Sacred Texts  Native American  Northwest  Index  Previous  Next 


At Sitka lived four brothers who were very fond of hunting. In those days people liked to hunt about the straits north of Sitka for fur seals, sea otters, etc. One day, while they were out, they were forced to take refuge from a storm at a place near Mount Edgecumbe, called Town-on-the-inside-of-blue-paint-point (Ne'ntaiataq!-ân), and while hunting about this place during their long stay they discovered a rocky cave or overhanging cliff from which soft blue stuff continually dropped. The youngest said, "I have discovered a valuable thing which will be used for painting and for everything carved."

After they had been there for a long time the weather became fine and the sea smooth. Now in olden times people knew that everything was dangerous. When the brothers were about to start, they said, "We will take some off now to carry home." So they knocked off a big piece, rolled it up among their clothes and hid it away. But the canoe had scarcely started before the sea began to get rough. When they were some way out they headed for an island outside of Edgecumbe which they had to pass. Then the eldest, who was steering, began to compose a song about the course he was taking: "Which way shall I steer the canoe, straight out into the ocean or straight on to the shore?" The youngest said, "There is no way of getting home. Would it not be better to throw this blue paint into the water? Then we can get ashore." So the eldest brother put in the next verse as follows: "Which way shall we steer, straight in or not? Shall we not throw this blue paint into the water? If not how shall we be saved?" Then he exclaimed, "Bring the blue stuff here and tie it to my head, and I will be drowned with it so that things shall eat me up with it."

They were not drowned, however, and reached shore in safety, so people still speak of their bravery in not throwing the blue paint overboard. To this day they say that, if you take anything from there, the weather will be stormy, and people are still afraid to do it, but take the risk because the thing obtained is valuable.

For a long time after the brothers reached shore with this blue paint the weather was bad and great rollers came sweeping in out of the ocean. No one could go to sea after halibut.

At that time some people were camping a short distance north of Sitka, and one day two women went from there with their children to dig clams. The came into a small inlet and made their camp.

p. 47

[paragraph continues] Then the women began bringing up shellfish, which they afterwards boiled to get the insides out, ran small sticks through them, and hung them up to dry for their children. One day they went down on the beach as usual, leaving their babies in camp; and the smallest began crying. Then a child somewhat larger shouted, "The baby is crying. The baby is crying." Its mother said, "Bury one of those cockles in the fire and cook it for her," but the little boy understood his mother to say, "Dig a hole for your little sister in the fire and put her into it." So the little boy began to pull the fire apart and to make a hole in the middle of it. He tried to knock his little sister into this hole but she kept getting up again, so he shouted, "She keeps trying to get away from me." After a while he became too strong for his little sister, put her in, and covered her over.

When his mother came up, she said, "Little son, where is your little sister?" "I have buried her in the fire. She is there." So after that they named the stream Creek-where-a-person-was-burned (KA'xsîgAnîhîn).

Next: 18. Various Adventures Near Cross Sound