Page:Tlingit Myths and Texts.djvu/43

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TLINGIT MYTHS AND TEXTS

6. THE LAND-OTTER SISTER[1]

A man set out from Sitka to a certain camp with his children in order to dry halibut, for in those days that was how they had to get their food. It w^as spring time. Then, too, they had stone axes and used small half baskets for pots in which to do cooking. His wife and children spent all of their time digging clams, cockles, and other shellfish down on the beach and in laying them aside for future use. The man, meantime, was hewing out a canoe with his stone ax. They had a hard time, for they had nothing to live on except the things picked up at low tide.

Many years before this man s sister had been drowned, but so long a time had passed that he had forgotten her. She, however, had been taken by the land otters and was married among them, having many children. From around a neighboring point she w^as watching him. Her children were all working to collect a quantity of food.

After this the woman s husband told her to take a lot of food to her brother. All the land-otter-people are called " Point people" (Qlatkwedi ); they have plenty of halibut, seal, etc. So she began packing these things up to take them to her brother. In front of his dwelling house her brother had a house made of branches, and one evening he heard someone come in front of his house and seem to lay down a heavy pack there. Then the person said, "The place where you are stopping is wonderfully far from us." He went out and saw a woman but did not know who she was because her arms were grown to her breast and her mouth was thrown open with her upper lip drawn up under her nose. But the woman could see how he felt, so she said to him, "It is I. I am your sister who lives a short distance away around this point." Then she brought the basket into her brother s house and said to him, "Take the things out of the basket, for I have to return before the raven calls."

Next evening she came back with another full basket. This time she said, "You have three nephews who will come over and help you get halibut and other things." So the little otters came to their uncle. From their w T aist up they looked like human beings; below they were otters, and they had tails. Their mother came with them and began to take her brother s children on her lap saying, "Little tail (Lilt k!Atsk!u ), little tail growing down." As she sang tails began to grow down from them. Then their father looked at them, became angry, and said, "What are you doing to my children anyway?" Immediately she slapped them on the buttocks and said, "Up goes the little tail, up into the buttocks (tu denAtsi yeq)," and the tails went up into their buttocks.

  1. See story 45.