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The history of humanity is etched upon the land we inhabit; the mountains, valleys, rivers, and bays share intimate stories with those who know how to listen.Since time immemorial, places have been endowed with names as a means of communicating significant cultural geography.The Indian with whom I was talking at the time said, "Do you hear the thunderbird?" I did not understand what he meant and asked him to tell me about the thunderbird and the thunder noise we had heard. Well, the thunderbird is many hundreds of times larger than a fish hawk.He wrote: is a Lummi word indicating that the summit of the peak has been damaged, or blown off by an explosion ('just as if shot at the end,' as one Indian explained it).This word is used of other things damaged or supposed to be damaged in a similar manner, and it is not limited at all in its use to Mt. The term does not mean 'The Great White Watcher/ or 'The Shining One,' as commonly interpreted." (Buchanan in Winthrop 1913, pg 279)It is possible that Buchanan's source for this information was William Mc Cluskey (abt.Both of his parents died when he was young and he was raised by the Tulalip Missionary, Father Chirouse (1821-1892). Mc Cluskey said he had talked it over with many of the old men of the different tribes, and he found that they all agreed that the name had something to do with the fact or legend as it might be, that the extinct crater upon the side of the mountain was once a living mass of flame as though, in the symbolism of the Indian, it had been shot at from on high by the thunderbolts of heaven, and carried an open wound. Mc Cluskey explains the significance thus: The verb Kulshilla is to shoot; the spot where the arrow or weapon entered the flesh would be the Kulshan; the point where it came out would be another word entirely, if an Indian were asked where he had been struck he would say, “This is the Kulshan.” So in his opinion, agreed to by the old men of the people, the name Kulshan was given to the mountain in ancient days to indicate the bleeding wound upon its snow-covered sides. Out here, in the home of the Indian, we might at least pay him the compliment of retaining his names.One day it thundered, the noise coming from a cumulus cloud southeast of us, toward the mountains from Lummi.
It is dangerous at these times, for the bolt of fire thus hurled will kill anything it strikes.
He said: "You see, it hardly ever thunders here; but yonder in the mountains it quite often thunders. It is so large that it can carry a large whale in its talons from the ocean to its nest. Whenever this bird comes from its nest and flies about the mountain top it thunders and lightnings, and even when it is disturbed in its nest it makes the thunder noise by its moving about even there.
The feathers of its wing tips are as long as a canoe paddle. Furthermore, when greatly disturbed or when in search of food it flies far from its mountain home, far out over this place.
1862-1937), a half native man that spoke freely with outsiders.
Historians Herbert Hunt and Floyd Kaylor cited Mc Cluskey as their source for a brief etymology of the place name (1917, pg 532).