Tradition of the Gwa?sî'la.
(Recorded by George Hunt.)
I shall talk about the ancestor of the North people, the Xô'los. He lived in the world above us, and sometimes
he would come down to a large mountain and sit on the beach at the upper end of a river on a lake which has the name Sitting-by-Itself-on-the-Beach. He did so every day, and the river was running along his feet.
One very fine day the large bird Xô'los came flying down, and sat on his summer seat. He saw the large river, and he said that he would come and look at the mouth of the large river. Then he flew down, and flew down along the large river. It did not take him long before he arrived at the mouth of the river, and there he saw a pretty place. Then he desired it. He took off his Xô'los mask and became a man, and then his name was Surpassing. Immediately he built a house at Lake.
Then he saw many sockeye salmon going up the river, and he considered how to get the salmon. Then he thought of the many stones in the river. He rolled them together, that the salmon should go into (the enclosure). As soon as he finished his work, he went across the river, and there he saw many alder-trees at the place where he was, and he carved a man out of one of them; and as soon as he finished his work, he took another alder-tree and again carved a man out of its bark; and he took still another alder-tree and carved a woman out of its bark, and he carved two women. After he had finished his work, Surpassing spoke, and said, "Go on, and think of trying to become real people!" Thus he said when he left them.
Night came; and in the morning, when day came, he looked at his salmon-weir; and as soon as he arrived at his salmon-weir, he heard men and women making a great
noise on the other side of the salmon-weir; and it was heard by Surpassing what they said when they made a noise. "Oh, if Surpassing would come and have mercy on us and pull us out!" Thus (the voices) said. Immediately Surpassing ran to look for the sound, and he saw a man sticking with his back to an alder-tree. He saw four men and women. Then Surpassing went and pulled the man off from the alder-tree, and the men came off easily from the alder-tree. As soon as he, got them all off, Surpassing asked the two men and the two women to go and roll stones together, so that they should also make a salmon-trap. Immediately the two alder-tree men and the women rolled stones together, and each had a salmon-trap of his own.
Then Surpassing went to purify himself in the river. As soon as he had finished purifying himself, he started to take home the four alder-tree persons to his house. As soon as the men had entered, Surpassing left. He was going to find blankets for the four alder-tree persons. He saw one old man, and an old woman, his wife. As soon as the old people saw Surpassing approaching them, they arose at once and danced. He did not hear a sound. As soon as Surpassing came nearer, he questioned them, and said, "O old people! why are you dancing?" Thus he said. Then the old man spoke, and said, "O child! we do this because we thought you had lost your way in the woods." Thus he said. Then Surpassing questioned the old mail, and said, "O friend! what is your name,
indeed?" Immediately the old man replied, and said, "I am Walking-over-All, and my wife's name is Born-to-walk-fast-alone."
Then Surpassing spoke, and said, "I am not your son; I am Surpassing, who came from the upper world to (the mountain) Right-on-Top." Then he said, "O friend! you shall be our nephew." Thus said the old man to Surpassing. Surpassing was just glad on account of what he had said, and he left them. Then he lassoed one deer, and he skinned it at once; and he saw many geese, and he clubbed the geese, and he skinned them; and after he had skinned the geese, he went home to his house.
As soon as he entered his house, one of the alder-tree men spoke, and said, "O lord! what did the geese say to us?" Thus he said. Immediately Surpassing questioned him, and said, "Tell me what they said to you." Thus he said. Then the other one said, "This is what they said: 'The good chief Surpassing, is making a salmon-trap.'" Thus they said. Immediately Surpassing laughed, and said, "O tribe, that is it! they meant that I am the only one who came down from the upper world; that I came to make right everything that is wrong in this lower world; and that is what they meant (in speaking) about me." Thus he said.
Then he gave the deer-skin and the goose-skin to his tribe for blankets; and Surpassing questioned the old people, that married couple, and he said, "O old people! how many children have you, and where are they?" Thus he said. Immediately they replied to him, and said they had four boys and four girls who had died. They had
eaten clams at the place Gê'g*äqê. Now no clams from that place are eaten. The clams of Gê'g*äqê are poisonous. That is the reason why the clams are not eaten, and now they have the xô'los for their crest, and they have the geese for their dance. That is the end.