Why Dog Does Stupid Things

There’s a Twana word that has no direct translation into English.  Dukwaps. Elders say it means “Something so stupid, only a dog would do it.”












Long and long ago, The Creator was giving out gifts to all the Animal People.

To Eagle, The Creator gave powerful eyes to see.

To Bear, The Creator gave the ability to heal.

To Beaver, The Creator gave the skill of working with wood.

To Wolf, The Creator gave great hunting prowess.

At last, when the bag of gifts was almost empty,

The Creator looked inside and saw there was only one item left…Dukwaps.

 “Who wants Dukwaps?” called The Creator.

Dog (Who had already been given Faithfulness) yelled back, “—I’ll take it!”

 And so it is, even today, when a dog does something so stupid, only a dog would do it, Elders say, “Why did you have to choose Dukwaps?”


A traditional Twana story retold by CoyoteCooks

Yesterday when I was taking the dog to do her business, she ran back over to a rotting bird carcass I had yelled at her about the day before.She ran up a vet bill for over $200 a couple of weeks ago for eating things she shouldn’t.  This time she not only ignored me shouting at her to leave it alone, but ran off with it in her mouth to wolf it down.

 Why did Dog choose Dukwaps?

  For all the years I lived in Seattle, I always tried to grow basil on my windowsill.  This resulted in a few scrawny stalks and tiny leaves for a few weeks which then broke out in mites and then ladybugs who swooped in for the mites.  I always enjoyed the ladybugs. 

 Imagine my delight to move to Arizona and discovering how much basil loves the constant sun as long as I water constantly.  I enjoy going out nearly every afternoon as I prepare dinner and harvesting not only fresh basil, but fresh mint from the abundance that spills over its pot.  The  basil and mint plucked from a few feet away on the patio combine nicely with fresh cilantro in a tasty mixed greens  salad and dressed with various vinaigrettes.  For an extra kick, I’ll add in some crumbled feta.  I’ve also discovered a stilton and apricot cheese at Trader Joe’s that is a great addition to the salad.  This trio also rocks when I toss in some bean sprouts and garlic while  making spring rolls as long as I add some shrimp or pork.

For a recent dinner, someone else took over duties and enjoyed being creative with the salmon and the fresh basil and additional herbs.  When the red onion he was cutting up unexpectedly fell apart,  he was inspired to take the slices and to place them in what he called “gills” but I thought looked more like the design of scales.  It looked so good I decided to take a photo before grilling it.  I’m happy to say it tasted as good as it looked.  Lately I’ve been using a marinade of honey whisked with a berry (blue/rasp) vinaigrette that does well under the broiler…a sweeter taste than the citrus combination  that’s my old reliable.

 While I love basil, I had never really spent much time looking into its origin, other than knowing it isn’t Native American.  We have a Native mint, which in Sahaptin is called shuka-shuka and is used in making tea–the scientific name is Clinopodium douglasii.  Mint and Basil are related.  The word Basil comes from the Greek basileus and it means “royal” or “king” and some have suggested it was often used in preparations for the nobility.  It’s also called the “king of the herbs.”   Although in the states we associate it with Mediterranean cooking, it appears to have come from the Iran/Indian area of southern Asia, where it’s been grown for over 5,000 years.

 Now excuse me, I have to check on the dog to make certain she isn’t being dukwaps

Explore posts in the same categories: American Indian, Native American food

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