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The Legend of the Seven Devils

On the Idaho side of Hells Canyon, the Seven Devils peaks stand in a semi-circle, towering 8,000 feet above the Snake River.

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Legend Continued ...

According to Nez Perce legend,

There were once seven giant, child-eating monsters living in the Blue Mountains of Oregon.
Each year the monsters traveled eastward, devouring all the little ones they could find along the way.  The chiefs of the tribes asked Coyote to help free them from the tyranny of the seven giants.  Coyote asked his friend Fox for advice.

"We will first dig seven holes," said Fox.
"We will dig them very deep, in a place the giants always pass over ... Then we will fill the holes with boiling liquid."

Coyote called together all the animals with claws -

Beavers, marmots, cougars, bears, and even rats, mice and voles - to dig the holes.  Then Coyote filled the holes with a reddish-yellow liquid.  Coyote and Fox dropped hot rocks into the boiling liquid to keep it hot.

The next time the seven devilish monsters journeyed eastward,
they fell into the seven deep holes of boiling liquid.  They fumed and splashed and roared, but could not get out.  As they struggled, they scattered the reddish liquid around them as far as a man can travel in a day.


 Coyote came out of his hiding place and said,
"You are being punished for your wickedness.  I will punish you even more by changing you into seven mountains.  I will make you very high so that everyone can see you.  You will stand here forever, to remind people that your punishment comes from wrong-doing.  And I will make a deep gash in the earth here so that no more of your family can get across to trouble my people."
Coyote changed the seven giants into the Seven Devils Mountains,
and then he struck the earth a hard blow and so opened up a deep gorge, Hells Canyon, at the feet of the giant mountain peaks.  The boiling reddish-yellow liquid that was splashed across the land by  struggling giants formed the copper deposits found in the area today.

Legend Source
Reported by Ella Clark in 1953, from the Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest by Ella E. Clark.
Copyright 1953 by the Regents of the University of California
Source:  Indian Myths and Legends (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
Selected and Edited by Richard Erdoes & Alfonso Ortiz, Copyright 1984


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