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WSU/Pend Oreille Extension introduced the Sense of Place series in 1999, with a focus on local landscape and natural history of Pend Oreille County, Washington. A partnership with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department has allowed us to expand this program through EPA funding to include more classes, a newsletter and this website.

Why Mosquito has a Spoon in his Hair


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A long time ago there was a monster called Mosquito, who would visit the various Kalispel villages along the Pend Oreille. Every year he would come and demand a tribute of blood from each village, and any community that failed to meet this demand he would punish by killing a person with his magic. Mosquito, when he was angered, would thrust his spear into the foot track of a person and they would fall over dead on the spot, so every village took great pains to have Mosquito’s blood ready for him when he arrived. Early in the morning his reed canoe would be seen coming down the river and the village’s town crier would tell everyone to get some blood and put it in a bucket for him. Then the town crier would run to the next village and warn them to prepare for Mosquito’s approach. When he landed his canoe, he would stand in the middle of the village towering aver everyone, demanding and threatening punishment if he didn’t get his blood. The villagers would run to him with the bucket of blood that they had gathered and Mosquito would sit on the ground pulling a spoon from his hair to drink his tribute. Everyone noticed that he would gorge himself before rushing to the next village for his next meal. Eventually this continual abuse by this monster made all the villages of the valley very angry, and a community here on the Kalispel Reservation got an idea...

Early in the morning the villagers sent out scouts to anticipate Mosquit’s arrival. As the sun rose, mosquito’s canoe could be seen turning around a bend in the river, and the scouts ran home to prepare enough blood to bloat him when he arrived. Soon he came, and found in front of each lodge there was a full bucket of blood and Mosquito was pleased. He sat outside each lodge in turn and drank and drank and drank. This was a large village and there were many lodges that had left buckets out for this monster. As the sun rose further he became bloated and his stomach sloshed with all the blood he drank. Just before he finished his last meal and while he was thinking about the next village he would terrorize, some of the village’s children snuck out to where his canoe was beached and pushed it adrift into a slough. Above this slough there was a great pine tree that littered the ground with pine needles. All the villagers gathered these up and cast them into the slough where Mosquito’s canoe was drifting away. As Mosquito finished his last bucket a young boy shouted to him, “Mosquito, Mosquito, your canoe is drifting away. Come quick!” Mosquito went running toward the slough, his bulbous belly sloshing as he dashed from the village. The young boy sat there laughing. “You should not be so greedy and take better care of your things, Mosquito,” the young boy chided. Mosquito laughed at the boy and said, “It’s a small thing. I can swim that far.” And with that, he dove into the slough with the spoon in his hair. In his haste, Mosquito did not see the pine needles that covered the surface of the slough. His belly was so swollen that the skin was stretched around him like a drum, and the pine needles ruptured his belly. As Mosquito died and sank into the slough, tiny little mosquitoes flew out of his ruined stomach. That is why mosquitoes are so small and live near sloughs. They have not forgotten the greed of Mosquito, as they steal blood from everyone now.

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