Tlingit Myths and Texts/3

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


There were four brothers who owned a dog of an Athapascan variety called dzi.[2] They had one sister. One day the dog began barking at something. Then KAckU Lk!, the eldest brother, put red paint inside of his blanket, took his rattle, and followed. The other brothers went with him. They pursued it up, up, up, into the sky. The dog kept on barking, and they did not know what it was going to do. It was chasing a cloud.

When they got to the other side of the world they came out on the edge of a very steep cliff. They did not know what to do. The dog, however, went right down the cliff, and they saw the cloud still going on ahead. Now these brothers had had nothing to eat and were very hungry. Presently they saw the dog coming up from far below bringing the tail of a salmon. After a while they saw it run back. Then they said to one another, What shall we do? We might as well go down also." But, when Lq!aya k!, the youngest brother, started he was smashed in pieces. The two next fared in the same way. KAck ! A r Lk !, however, braced his stick against the wall behind him and reached the bottom in safety. Then he put the bones of each of his brothers together, rubbed red paint on them, and shook his rattle over them, and they came to life.

Starting on again around this world, they came to a creek full of salmon. This was where the dog had been before. When they got down to it they saw a man coming up the creek. He was a large man with but one leg and had a kind of spear in his hand with which he was spearing all the salmon. They watched him from between the limbs of a large, dead tree. When he got through hooking the salmon, he put all on two strings, one of which hung out of each corner of his mouth. Then he carried them down.

Then LqJaya k! said to his brothers, "Let us devise some plan for getting the salmon spear." So he seized a salmon, brought it ashore and skinned it. First KAckU Lk! tried to get inside of it but failed. When Lq!aya k! made the attempt, however, he swam off at once, and, if one of his brothers came near him, he swam away. Then the other brothers sat up in the dead tree, KAckU Lk! at the top.

When the big man came up again after salmon, Lq!aya k! swam close up to him, and he said, "Oh! my salmon. It is a fine salmon." But, when he made a motion toward it with his spear, it swam back into deep water. Finally it swam up close, and the big man speared it easily. Then Lqlaya k! went to the tail of the fish, cut the string which fastened the big man's spear point to the shaft and swam off with the point. Upon this the big man pulled his shaft up, looked at it and said, "My spear is gone." Then he went downstream. In the meantime Lq laya/k! came ashore, got out of the fish, came up to his usual station on the lowest limb of the tree, and sat down there. They had him sit below because he talked so much, and because he was the most precipitate. That night the one-legged man did not sleep at all on account of his lost spear. He was using it in working for the bear people. When he came up next morning he had a quill in his hands which would tell him things. He took this about among the trees, and, when he came to that on which the brothers were sitting, it bent straight down. Then he cried, "Bring my spear this way." Although he saw no one, he knew that there were people there who had it. Then he came to the bottom of the tree, seized Lqlaya k! and tore him in pieces. So he served the next two brothers. But KAckU/Lk! had his dog, which he was able to make small, concealed under his coat and, after his brothers were torn up, he let it go, and it tore the big man all to pieces. Because he had his red paint, rattle, and dog he cared for nothing. Now he put the red paint on his brothers bodies and shook the rattle over them so that they came to life. Next morning they got into the same tree again. Then they saw a man with two heads placed one over another coming up the stream. It was the bear chief. He hooked a great many salmon and put them on pieces of string on each side of his mouth. Next evening a little old man came up. Lq laya/k! came down and asked, "What are you doing here?" He said, "I have come up after salmon." But he could hook none at all, so Lqlaya/k! caught a lot for him. Then Lqlaya k! asked him: "What does that double-head that came up here do?" The old man said, "I will tell you about it." So they said to him : Now we want you to tell the truth about this ? What does he really do when he gets home with his salmon? We will get you more salmon if you tell us truly." And the old man answered: When he gets home with a load of salmon, he leaves it down by the river. Then he takes off his skin coat and hangs it up." This is what he told them. The next time the two-heads came up and began to throw salmon ashore, it said all at once, "I feel people's looks."[3] As soon as he came opposite the place where they were sitting, KAckU Lk! threw his dog right upon him. It caught this big bear by the neck and killed him. Every time thereafter, when the little old man came up, they questioned him about the people in the place he came from. At last they caught a lot of salmon and prepared to descend. Then KAckU Lk! put on the bearskin, placed his brothers under his arms inside of it, took strings of salmon as the bear had done, and started on. When he came in front of the houses he acted just like the two-headed man. First he entered the two-headed man's house and shook his skin, whereupon his brothers and the dog passed behind the screens in the rear of the house and hid themselves. After that he began fixing his salmon, and, when he was through, took off his coat and hung it up in the manner that had been described to him.

Toward evening a great deal of noise was heard outside, made over some object. Lqlaya k! very much wanted to go out and look, but they tried to prevent him. Finally he did go out and began to play with the object, whereupon the players rolled it on him and cut him in two. After that the two brothers next older went out and w r ere cut in two in the same manner. After this KAcklA Lk! sent his dog out. He seized the object, shook it and made it fly to the tops of the mountains, where it made the curved shapes the mountains have to-day. Then it rolled right back again. When it rolled back, the dog became very angry, seized it a second time, shook it hard, and threw it so high that it went clear around the sun. It made the halo of light seen there. Then KAck!A r Lk! took his brothers bodies, pieced them together, put red paint upon them and shook his rattle over them. They came to life again. Then he took the dog, made it small, and put it under his arm; and they started off. Since that time people have had the kind of spear (dma ) above referred to. The brothers started on with it, and, whenever they were hungry, they got food with it. They always kept together.

After a while they came across some Athapascan Indians called Worm-eating people (Wun-xa qoan). These were so named because, when they killed game, they let worms feed upon it, and, when the worms had become big enough, they ate them through holes in the middle of their foreheads which served them as mouths. Lq laya k ! wanted to be among these Athapascans, because they had bows and arrows and wore quills attached to their hair. They used their bows and arrows to shoot caribou, and, when they were pursuing this animal, they used to eat snow.

After Lqlaya/k! had obtained his bow and arrows they came out at a certain place, probably the Stikine river, and stayed among some people who were whipping one another for strength, in the sea. Every morning they went into the water with them.

At that time they thought that Lq laya k ! was going with his sister, and they put some spruce gum around the place where she slept. Then they found the spruce gum on him and called him all sorts of names when they came from bathing. They called him Messenger-with-pitch-on-his-thigh (Naqa ni qlAcgu qlo), the messenger being a brother-in-law of the people of the clan giving a feast. They named him so because they were very much ashamed. This is why people have ever since been very watchful about their sisters. Because he had been fooling with his sister, when Lq laya k ! went out, his brothers said to him, "You do not behave yourself. Go somewhere else. You can be a thunder (hex!)." They said to him, "Ha/agun kadi."[4]

This is why, when thunder is heard, people always say, "You gummy thigh." It is because Lq laya k! became a thunder. Their sister was ashamed. She went down into Mount Edgecumbe (L!UX) through the crater.

Because the thunder is a man, when the thunder is heard far out at sea, people blow up into the air through their hands and say, "Let it drive the sickness away," or "Let it go far northward." The other brothers started across the Stikine and became rocks there.

  1. This story was told by Dekina k!". According to some, the story begins with the birth of five children from a dog lather. See stories 97 and 31 (pp. 99-106).
  2. EAkitCAne , the father of these boys, is said to have lived near the site of the Presbyterian school at Sitka and to have used the "blarney stone," so called, as a grindstone.
  3. Meaning "I feel that people s looks are on me."
  4. It is said that no one knows what these words mean.