Beaver Steals Fire A Salish Coyote Story by Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

Beaver Steals Fire A Salish Coyote Story

Written by Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
Illustrated by


Beaver Steals Fire A Salish Coyote Story by Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

A long time ago, fire belonged only to the animals in the land above, not to those on the earth below. Curlew, keeper of the sky world, guarded fire and kept it from the earth. Coyote, however, devised a clever plan to steal fire, aided by Grizzly Bear, Wren, Snake, Frog, Eagle, and Beaver. These brave and resourceful animal beings raided the land above and risked all to steal fire from Curlew. Beaver Steals Fire is an ancient and powerful tale springing from the hearts and experiences of the Salish people of Montana. Steeped in the rich and culturally vital storytelling tradition of the tribe, this tale teaches both respect for fire and awareness of its significance, themes particularly relevant today. This unforgettable version of the story is told by Salish elder Johnny Arlee and beautifully illustrated by tribal artist Sam Sandoval.

Reviews -- Jodi Rave * * [A] beautifully illustrated retelling of a story of the Montana Salish People. . . . Beaver Steals Fire makes both a fine children's tale and an interesting way to introduce students to the complexities of the relationship of Indian Peoples to the land. -Journal of the West -- Stephen Aquila * Journal of the West * A gift for the whole family, beautifully produced, and very affordable. -Billings Gazette -- Sharie Clawson * Billings Gazette * Readers of all ages will find much to delight over in this tale. . . . The watercolor illustrations that accompany the tale are rich with earthy patinas and skillfully add intelligence and dramatic action to the animal characters. -The Bloomsbury Review -- Marcia Bloupe * The Bloomsbury Review * Wednesday, November 30 - Book of the Month: BeaverStealsFire: This tale from the Salish people explains how the animals brought fire from the sky to the earth. Like many Native stories, it can only be told in the cold winter months when snow is on the ground. The story shows how the animals helped prepare the world for human beings. It also touches on the ideas of teamwork, greed and deception. Beaver Steals Fire, is our November Book of the Month. Native America Calling airs live Monday-Friday 1pm EST, 10am PST. * Native America Calling * BEAVER STEALS FIRE: A Salish Coyote Story, by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005), 64 pp., $14.95 pb.

Beaver Steals Fire is a beautifully illustrated retelling of a story of the Montana Salish People. Johnny Arlee, the storyteller, is a Salish Elder, and worked with illustrator Sam Sandoval to create a book suitable for both younger children and those wishing to learn more about Salish and Pend d'Oreille culture. Beaver Steals Fire describes how Coyote leads a team of animals to steal fire from the denizens of the sky world and bring it to the chilly residents of the Earth below. The introduction to the book asks those who would read it aloud to confine such readings to the winter months, which is when the story was traditionally told.

This book retells the Salish version of the gift of fire. As in many other fire myths, fire comes from the sky, and fire is so valuable that it must be stolen. Coyote is voted in to brainstorm the expedition, but Beaver is the real hero. To reach the heavenly fire, the animals fasten a rope to the top of the sky and climb. Grizzly Bear climbed last. Because he was such a greedy person, he carried his lunch with him.

About the Author

Other Formats

Book Info


64 pages


Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
More books by Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes


Bison Books an imprint of University of Nebraska Press

Publication date

1st January 2008



I love lovereading4kids because I’ve read amazing books I would never have picked up, and its opened doors to new genre’s I now love.

Harriet Cunningham

I am so pleased to have signed my kids up as they are reading a much wider range of books and even choosing books out of their comfort zone.

Angela East

You give me age appropriate ideas of books I can read and buy for the children and find out what other children their age think of them too.

Katie Lonsdale

I love ‘LoveReading 4 kids’ because they let you read and learn things you’d never dreamed of learning before.

Emily Horncastle – age 11

A great way to introduce kids to great books, authors & genres. Parents can find age-appropriate books to share with their children.

Judi Davies – Aberdare Girls Sch

At @HHSHaringey we love @lovereading4kids because our pupils can practice reviewing & get free upcoming books before anyone else!

Helen Swinyard – Heartlands High

Writing reviews help the children with their literacy skills and we always read the books together which gives us good quality family time!

Cat Bisland (on behalf of the Bi

I have told all my friends, family & teachers to see for themselves just how great the site is. Without fail, they are hugely impressed.

Alexander Boxall – age 11

Lovereading 4 schools