SWAMP LANTERN has an interesting history. According to a first nation's Kathlamet story: "In the ancient days, they say, there was no salmon. The Indians had nothing to eat, save roots and leaves. Principal among these was the skunk cabbage. Finally the spring salmon came for the first time. As they passed up the river, a person stood upon the shore and shouted: "Here come our relatives whose bodies are full of eggs! If it had not been for me, all the people would have starved." "Who speaks to us?" asked the salmon. "Your uncle, Skunk Cabbage," was the reply. Then the salmon went ashore to see him, and as a reward for having fed the people, he was given an elk-skin blanket and a war-club, and was set in the rich, soft soil near the river."
According to Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, wherever the leaves of this plant were available, they were used as 'Indian wax paper' for lining berry baskets, berry-drying racks and steaming pits. Skunk cabbage was rarely used as food by the northwest coast peoples; it was mostly a famine food in early spring; and it was then eaten only after steaming or roasting.