Recorded by James G. Swan for the Smithsonian in his 1874 report “Haidah Indians: Queen Charlotte’s Islands, British Columbia, with a Brief Description of Their Carvings, Tattoo Designs, Etc.”
“Figs., 14, 15, and 16 (Plate 7), representing the Skamsom or thunder bird, squid (octopus), noo, and the frog, Tl-kam-kostan, were copied from the tattooed marks on Kitkagens; the skamson or skamsquin on his back, the noo on front of each thight, and the Tl-kam-kostan on each ankle.
The belief in the thunder bird is common with all the tribes of the northwest coast, and is pictured by each tribe according to their fancy. I have traced this allegory from the Chenooks, at the mouth of the Columbia, through all the coast tribes to Sitka. The general idea is the same throughout; it is a belief in a supernatural being of gigantic stature, who resides in the mountains and has a human form. When he wishes for food he covers himself with wings and feathers as one would put on a cloak. Thus accoutred, he sails forth in search of prey. His body is of such enormous size that it darkens the heavens, and the rustling of his wings produces thunder.
The lightning is produced by a fish, like the Hypocampus, which he gets from the ocean and hides among his feathers. When he sees a whale he darts one of these animals down with great velocity, and the lightning is produced by the creature’s tongue, which is supposed to be like that of the serpent. This is the general idea of the mythological legend, slightly altered in the narrative by different tribes and differently depicted by various painters.”