Nisga'a stories are affirmations of the history of the people, the land and our relationship to animals. Stories were only shared by specific delegates of one's family, and were considered the tangible property of the family.
The Chief's Rattle
In the Nass Valley, there is a sacred hunting lake. Many hunters tried to hunt on this lake, only to perish in its whirlpool. One day, a hunter watched the movements of the whirlpool, counting the bad times and the mild times. He had many successful hunts by timing the whirlpool, setting out carefully on the lake as the whirlpool became mild and returning before it turned bad.
On one hunt, a little bird came out of the water. It stood on the water and shook itself, making the sound of a rattle. The bird's mask-like head was that of a raven, and on its back there was a carving of a frog whose tongue was joined to that of a man.
The hunter knew that this was the spirit bird, who was controlling the movements of the whirlpool. By showing itself to the hunter, the spirit bird was giving him a blessing for more successful hunts. On returning home, the hunter carved a rattle in the shape of the spirit bird to show his respect and thanks.