In the same town, TA'qdjîk-ân, lived a chief named GA
lwê't! belonging to the Takwane'dî family. He was bathing in the sea for strength every day, and the people of his village bathed with him. In the cold mornings he would rise, run down to the sea, and rush in. Then he would run up to a good-sized tree and try to pull a limb out of it. He would afterward go to another and try to twist it from top to bottom. He wanted to do these things because he was trying to become a killer of sea lions.
The same chief had a nephew who was thought to be very weak and a great coward. He would not go into the water, and the people
teased him by pushing him over, when he would not do a thing in return. He was very slow. The man's real name was Dukt!û'L! (Black-skin), but they nicknamed him Atqahâ's!î. His real name may also have been a nickname originally, applied to him because he was ugly.
At the same time Black-skin was merely feigning weakness, and, though he continued to lie in bed when the others bathed, at night after all were asleep, he would steal off and do the same thing himself for hours and hours. He remained in so long that he had to float to rest his feet. On coming out he would throw water on the ashes of the fire so as to make it steam and lay his mat on top. That was the only bed he had. The people thought that he was a low, dirty fellow, but in reality he kept himself very pure and would not lie or steal. He did not say a word when they made fun of him, though he was strong enough to have done almost anything to them if he had so desired. When they sent him after big pieces of firewood he acted as if they were very hard to lift, and they thought he was so lazy that they gave him very little to eat.
The people went on in this way, bathing every day with their chief, while Black-skin bathed at night. After they were through, the village people would make a big fire, take breakfast and then go after wood. As soon as the people came up, Black-skin moved into a corner and slept there. One night, while Black-skin was bathing, he heard a whistle that sounded to him like that of a loon. He thought, "Now that I am seen I better let myself go." So he went toward the place where he had heard it and saw a short, thick-set man standing on the beach clothed in a bear skin. This man ran down toward him, picked him up, and threw him down upon the beach. Then he said, "You can't do it yet. Don't tell anyone about me. I am Strength (
Latsî'n). I have come to help you."
Toward morning Black-skin came in feeling very happy, for he thought that he had seen something great. He kept thinking of Strength all the time. He could not forget him, but he was quieter than ever in his demeanor. When they were playing in the house he would never pay any attention, and, if they said mean things to him, he let them go on unnoticed, although he belonged to the family of the chief. Anything they wanted they asked him to get, and he got it. In olden times the boys used to wrestle in the chief's house while their elders looked on, and they would try to get him to wrestle also. Sometimes the little boys would wrestle with him, and he pretended that they pushed him down. Then they would make fun of him saying, "The idea of a great man like you being thrown by a child."
When he went in bathing again, this man felt very happy for he knew that he had strength. Anything hard to do, when he looked at it, appeared easy to him. That night he heard the whistle once more.
[paragraph continues] He looked round and saw the same man, and the man said, "Come over this way. Come over to me." Then they seized one another, and as soon as the short man felt his grip, he said, "Don't throw me down. Now you have strength. You are not to go into the water again. Go from here right to that tree and try to pull the limb out." So he went to the tree and pulled it right out. Then he put it back again. After he had done so, the man told him to go to the other tree. "Twist it right down to the roots," he said. So he did. Afterward he untwisted it and made it look as before.
Just after he got to bed the people started in bathing. As they passed him the boys would pull his hair saying, "Come on and go in bathing, too;" but he paid no attention. After they had bathed they went up to this limb as usual, and GA
lwê't! pulled it out with ease. Black-skin lay in bed, listening to the shouting they made. Then GA lwê't! ran to the other tree and twisted it to the very root. When they came home, they told the story to one another, saying, "GA lwê't! pulled out that limb." The chief himself felt very proud, and the people of the village were very happy that he had done so, especially his two wives. Then they tried to get Black-skin out of bed. They laughed at him, saying, "Your chief has pulled out the limb. Why couldn't you? He has also twisted that tree. You sleep like a chief and let your chief go bathing in the morning." They laughed at him, saying, "He is sleeping in the morning because he has pulled out that limb and twisted that tree."
They had been bathing in order to hunt sea lions, so the young men said, "To-morrow we are going after sea lions. I wonder which part of the canoe Black-skin will sleep in. He is such a powerful fellow." And one boy said, "Why this Black-skin will sit in the bow of the canoe so that he can land first. He will tear the sea lions in two." Black-skin listened to all this, but he paid no attention to them. The whole town was going all day long to see the place where the limb had been pulled off and the tree twisted down to the root. Those people almost lived on this sea-lion meat, but it was very scarce and only powerful people could get it. For this reason they picked out only the strongest fellows from among those who had been bathing with the chief, to go after them to the sea-lion island. This island was very slippery because the sea lions stayed there all of the time and very few could get up to the place where they were. That is why they went through such hardships to get at them.
The elder of the chief's two wives had had pity on Black-skin, and would do little favors for him on the sly. So Black-skin, after he had bathed secretly, came to his uncle's wife and said, "Will you give me a clean shirt; it doesn't matter much what it is so long as it is clean, and something for my hair? Are you asked to go?" she said. He replied, "I am not asked, but I am going." So she prepared food for
him and put it in as small a package as she could. All prepared and got into the canoe. Last of all came down Black-skin, and, when they saw him, they said, "Don't let him come. Don't let him come." Seeing that he was determined to get in they began pushing the canoe out as fast as they could. Black-skin then seized the canoe, and they struck his fingers to make him let go. It sounded like beating upon a board. And, although all of them were shoving it out, he exerted a very little of his strength, pulled the canoe back, and jumped in. Then the people talked very meanly to him, but the chief said, "Oh! let him be. He will bail out the canoe for us on the way over." So he sat in the place where one bails. The uncle might have suspected something after his nephew had pulled back the canoe, but he did not appear to. As they went rapidly out they said, "Black-skin came along to tear the sea lions in two." They asked him, "How many sea lions shall I skin for you?" But Black-skin said nothing.
The sea-lion island had very precipitous sides against which great waves came, so GA
lwê't! waited until the canoe was lifted upon the crest of a wave and then jumped ashore. He was a powerful fellow, and seizing a small sea lion by the tail smashed its head to pieces on the rocks. Then he thought he would do the same thing to a large one. These large sea lions are called q!At!-cu-qâ'wu (men-of-the-islands). He went to the very largest of these and sat astride of its tail, intending to tear it in two, but the sea lion threw him up into the air, and, when he came down, he was smashed to pieces on the rocks.
Now, when Black-skin saw what had happened to his uncle, he felt badly. Then he put his hand into his bundle of clothes, took out and put on his hair ornament and his shirt, while all watched him, and said, "I am the man that pulled out that limb, and I am the man that twisted that tree." He spoke as high-caste Indians did in those days, and all listened to him. He said to them, "Take the canoe closer to shore." Then he walked forward in the canoe, stepping on the seats which broke under his weight, precipitating their occupants to the bottom of the canoe. The young men that were sitting in his way he threw back as if they had been small birds. Then the people were all frightened, thinking that he would revenge himself on them for their meanness, but he jumped ashore where his uncle had gone and walked straight up the cliff. The small sea lions in his way he killed simply by hitting them on the head and by stepping on them. He looked only at the big one that had killed his uncle, for he did not want it to get away. When he came to it, he seized it and tore it in two. A few of the sea lions escaped, but he killed most of them and loaded the canoe down. While he was doing this, however, his companions, who were very much ashamed of themselves and very much frightened, paddled away and left him. They said to the people in the town, "It was Black-skin who pulled out the limb and twisted the
tree." Then the town people were troubled and said, Why did you leave him out there? Why didn't you bring him in?"
Meanwhile Black-skin took out the sea-lion intestines and dried them. He had nothing to make a fire with and did not know what he should do. So he lay down and went to sleep, his head covered with his blanket. Then he heard something that sounded like the beating of sticks. Suddenly he was awakened by hearing someone say, "I have come after you." He looked around, but could not see anything except a black duck which was swimming about in front of him. Then he saw the black duck coming toward him and said to it, "I have seen you already." It answered, "I am sent after you. Get on my back but keep your eyes closed tight." So he did. Then the duck said again, "Now open your eyes." He opened them and saw that he was in a fine house. It was the house of the sea lions. It is through this story that the natives to the present day say that everything is like a human being. Each has its "way of living." Why do fish die on coming out of the water? It is because they have a "way of living" of their own down there.
Meanwhile the elder wife of the chief, who had helped Black-skin, was mourning for her husband and nephew. Her husband's body was still on that island. The older people were also saying to the people who had left him, "Why did you do it? A powerful fellow like that is scarce. We want such a fellow among us." Then the widow begged the young men to go back to the island and bring home her nephew and her husband's body but the younger wife did not care. Finally some other people did go out. They saw the body there, but Black-skin was gone. Then they took aboard the body, loaded the canoe with the bodies of sea lions, and went home. When they heard of it the wise people all said that something was wrong. The shamans said that he was not dead and that they would see him again. They said that he was off with some wild animal. This troubled the village people a great deal. They felt very badly to think that he had kept himself so very lowly before the low-caste people, and they feared that he was suffering somewhere when he might just as well have occupied his uncle's place.
Black-skin, however, continued to stay among the sea lions. They looked to him like human beings, but he knew who they really were. In the same house there was a boy crying all the time with pain. The sea-lion people could not see what ailed him. Black-skin, however, could see that he had a barbed spear point in his side. Then one of the sea lions spoke up saying, "That shaman there knows what is the matter. He is saying, I How is it that they can not see the bone in the side of that child?"' Then Black-skin said, "I am not a shaman, but I can take it out." So he cut it out and blood and matter came out with it. Then they gave him warm water to wash the wound, and,
since the young sea lion belonged to high-caste people, they said to him, "Anything that you want among us you can have." So he asked for a box that always hung overhead. This box was a kind of medicine to bring any kind of wind wanted. The sea lions would push the box up and down on the water, calling the wind to it like a dog, whistling and saying, "Come to this box. Come to this box." So the natives now whistle for the winds and call them. Then the sea-lion people told Black-skin to get into it, and, as soon as he did so, he saw that he was very far out at sea. He began to call for the wind that blows shoreward, and it carried him ashore. Then he got out of the box and hung it out on the limb of a tree in a sheltered place. He did this because the sea-lion people had told him to take very good care of that box and not go near anything unclean with it.
Black-skin had now landed only a short distance from his own town, so he walked home, and his uncle's wife was very glad to see him, feeling as if his uncle had come back. The dried sea-lion entrails he wore around his head. Then he asked all of the town people to come together, and the people who had been cruel to him were very much ashamed, for they thought that he had gone for good. He, however, looked very fine. He eyed his enemies angrily but thought thus, "If I had not made myself so humble, they might not have treated me that way." So he overlooked it. Some of the people that had left him on the sea-lion island were so frightened that they ran away into the woods. Some of the old people and the good-hearted people were very glad that he was back, but he could see that others hung their heads as if they were ashamed. Then he said, "Some of you know how cruel you were to me. You know well that you are ashamed of yourselves. But I can see that some of you feel good because you know that you felt kindly toward me. It will always be the case that people who are cruel to poor people will be ashamed of it afterward." They had thought that he would avenge himself on them, but he talked to them in a very kindly manner saying, "Do not make fun of poor people as you did when my uncle was alive." a
145:a See story 11.