There were people living in a certain town on the mainland. You know that in olden times the people did not use guns. They hunted with bows and arrows, and horn spears, and it was very hard work to use them. So, when they were going hunting, they had to fast and wash their heads in urine. That is why in all of these stories-which I am telling you just as they were told in the olden times-food was very scarce and hard to get. Success depended on what things were used and how people prepared themselves.
One day a certain man at this place began preparing himself by washing his head in urine, and the following morning he dressed and started up the valley carrying his horn spear. At the head of this valley he saw a flock of mountain sheep, but he could not get at them, so he camped over night. In the morning he saw that a wolverine (nûsk) was among these sheep killing them off.
Next evening he reached the top of the mountain and started into the brush to camp, but came to a house with the door wide open for him. On the inside hung pieces of fat from all kinds of animals the wolverine had killed. He wanted to go in very much, but instead he sat down in the brush near by and waited.
Presently a man came along carrying a pack. This was Wolverine-man (Nû'sgu-qa). He said, "My trader, you are here. Why don't you step inside?" Then they entered, and Wolverine-man took off his clothes and began wringing them out just like a human being. Then he heated some hot rocks, took his half basket, chopped up the bones of a ground hog and put these into it along with the cooking stones. Then he said to the man, "Give me that kAndALâ'x. Give me that k!AxA'kaok." These were his own words which he was teaching to this man, and they mean, "Give me my dish. Give me my little spoon." So, when one went up to the top of this mountain in olden times he called his dishes and spoons by those names.
Then Wolverine-man placed the food before his guest, but, when the latter was about to take some, Wolverine-man said something that sounded strange to him. He said, "There he is picking it up. There he is going to eat it." It sounded strange. Then he kept on talking: "He is getting closer to the small bones. He is getting closer to the small bones. He is getting closer to the small brother of the big bone. He is getting closer to the small brother of the big bone." He did not want the man to eat the small bones at the joint, a and it was from Wolverine-man that people learned not to eat these. He said, "I am not saying this to you because I hate you. If anybody swallows these, the weather is not clear on top of the mountain. It is always foggy, and one can kill nothing. This is why I am telling you." Meanwhile the people in the camps hunted every day for this man but in vain.
By and by Wolverine-man said to him, "Go around to the other side of the mountain and sit down where the ground-hogs' places are." He went there every day, but always came home without anything. Wolverine-man, however, brought him a great load every time. Finally Wolverine-man told him to go and cut off two small limbs with his ax. People generally carried a stone ax when off hunting. With these he made a trap for him and named it Never-lasting-over-night (
Lankâ'k!îxê). It was so named because it was certain to catch.
When they went up next day, Wolverine-man said, "I am going this way. Do not set your trap until you see a large ground hog going into a hole. Set it there." Soon after he left Wolverine-man he saw a big ground hog going into its hole. He set up his trap there, stood near, and watched. Soon he heard the crack of his trap falling.
He set it up many times, and each time he caught one. He killed four that day. That is why the trap is called Never-lasting-over-night. From that time on he increased the size of his catch every day, while Wolverine-man did not catch much. When he got home with all his ground hogs Wolverine-man lay down by the fire and began singing, "What I would have killed has all gone over to a lazy man's side."
Next morning, when they again started off to hunt, Wolverine-man, instead of continuing on his usual route, came back to see what his companion was doing. Then he climbed into a tree to watch him, began to play around in the tree, and afterwards suddenly fell down. He wanted to deceive the trapper. This tree is a small bushy one called s!Ax, and it is Wolverine-man's wife with which he had really been cohabiting. The man, however, observed what he was doing, and returned home at once, upon which Wolverine-man became so ashamed that he lay down and covered himself with ashes.
After that Wolverine-man told his guest to lie down and cover himself up. Then he took his urinal full of urine, with two white
rocks in it, to another place. He was going to bathe to purify himself from his wife. After he had purified himself, he came home, put grease into the fire and began to motion toward his face and to blow with his mouth. Then he took a wooden comb and began to comb his hair. The man had covered his head with the blanket but was watching through a hole.
Now the man arose and said to Wolverine-man, "I am going home to my children." Then Wolverine-man told him not to say where he had been but to keep him in remembrance by means of the trap. He had stayed with Wolverine-man more than a month, and, when he went down, he had a big pack of skins.
Then he began to distribute these to all his friends, telling them that he had discovered a place where there were lots of things, and that he had a trap which never failed to kill ground hogs and other animals if set on the mountain over night. When he explained to the people how to set up this trap, a man named Coward (Q!Atxâ'n) said, "I will go along with you." This time they did not go way up to the place where Wolverine-man had helped him but into one of the lower valleys where there were many ground hogs. There they constructed a house out of dry sticks and began trapping. Coward had understood him to say that he caught ground hogs by whittling up sticks near the hole. That was what he was doing every day, until finally his companion said, "What do you do by the holes that you do not catch anything?" He said, "Why, I have already cut up two big sticks by the holes." Then the other answered, "That is not right. You have to cut and make a trap with which to trap the ground hog."
After that this man thought he would do the same thing to the tree he had seen Wolverine-man do, but he fell to the ground and was barely able to crawl home. When he thought he had enough skim, he started to pack up and return. The trap was very valuable at that time because it was new, and anyone borrowing it paid a great deal. So he became wealthy by means of it. He went to every other town to let people know about it. They would invite him to a place, feast him, and ask him for it. He became very wealthy.
37:a The knee-pan or the ankle and wrist bones.