Sacred Texts  Native American  Northwest  Index  Previous  Next 

By and by this chief's daughter had a little boy who proved to be very smart and became a great hunter. He used to hunt far up on the mountains for mountain goats and other animals. One time he fell from the top of a mountain and lost consciousness, and, when he came to, he saw many men standing about him in a circle. They had cedar-bark rings around their heads and necks. Then they said to him, "What kind of spirit do you want, the Raven Spirit or the Wolf Spirit?" and he said "The Wolf Spirit." So they held white rocks over his head, and he became unconscious. That is how he got the spirit. Then he ran around screaming, naked except for an apron, while all of the Cliff Spirits and all of the Forest Spirits sang and pounded on sticks for him. They also tied up his hair like a wolf's ears. This is the origin of the LuqAna', or secret societies, and the one this man first started is said to have been the Dog-eaters' society. He sang a song, too, only employed nowadays by a high-caste person

p. 134

when he is initiated. It is called Cînâ'xlk!, and goes this way, "I am above the world. I walk in high places. There is nobody else after me. I am alone." Those who became luqAna's after this were not like him, because he said, "I am alone. There is nobody after me." They only imitate him.

There are many kinds of luqAna's. Some are dog-eaters and some pretend to eat the arms of people. It is previously arranged between the luqAna' and his father what he is to do and whom he is to injure, and, after the spirit has come out, the father has to pay a great deal of money for damages. The luqAna's are always found at feasts, and high-caste people stand around them. The people who learned from this boy first are those in the direction of Victoria, and there they think that a person who has performed many times is very high. It is only very lately that we Alaskans have had luqAna's. LuqAna' is a Tsimshian word meaning yêk. a When they perform up here, the southern Tlingit dance Tsimshian dances and the northern Tlingit Athapascan dances.

After this youth had come back to his people from the woods and had shown them all about the luqAna', he went to the Queen Charlotte islands and came to the greatest chief there. Then the people at that place said to him, "It is terrible the way things have been going on. We have wizards (nuks!â'tî), who kill men in a sly way. There is one very high-caste person here who has taught himself to be a wizard. And they told him this man's story.

He and his friend were very dissolute young men who wanted very much to be wizards, and the former begged his slave to tell him what to do. "If you want to become one very much," said he, "go down there and sleep among the driftwood left by the tide. Then you will see what it is." They did this, and a very nice looking woman came to them and taught them witchcraft. This was the mouse (k!uts!î'n). They thought that it was a fine thing. After a while the woman again appeared to them in a dream and said, "Would you like to be among the geese and brants?" They answered "Yes," one saying, "I will be a goose;" the other, "I will be a brant." At once they flew off in those forms. They thought that it was a fine thing to be wizards, and would spend all their nights going about that way, never coming in till morning. For that reason the town people began to suspect that something was wrong with them. Nowadays a person among the natives who sleeps much is said to be of no account, for it was through sleep that witchcraft started. They also say that a wizard has no respect for anything and never speaks to his neighbors.

p. 135

Finally a certain man began to drink salt water and fast in order to discover the wizards. He also made a medicine. Then he dreamt about them, and went to them, telling them everything he know. The two young men replied, "Don't tell about us. If you keep it to yourself we will pay you ten slaves. We will let you win ten slaves from us in gambling." And they did so.

This is the story that the luqAna' man told to his friends when he came home, and wherever he told it there began to be wizards. Therefore witchcraft came to Alaska through the sons of Ayâ'yî a and through the Haida. They also learned from the Haida that witchcraft may be imparted by means of berries. When women are gathering these, they do not pick up the ones that are dropped accidentally, no matter how many they may be, because that is what witches do.

The shamans say it is this way: A man claims that he sees a large creek. It is witchcraft. A smaller creek flows into this. It is the lying creek. Another creek comes into it. It is the stealing creek. Still another creek comes into it. It is the profligates' creek. All these are in witchcraft.



133:a For another version of this part, see story 89.

134:a Actually it is from the Kwakiutl word Lû'koala. Katishan calls it Tsimshian because the Tlingit received their secret societies through them.

Next: 31. Raven, Part XI