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In the town where this occurred a man named S!âwA'n became a shaman. He told the people to leave and go somewhere else because spirits were saying in him, "If you stay in this village, you will all

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die." There was so much respect for shamans in those days that people obeyed everything that they told them to do. By and by his spirit said to the shaman, "You will be asked to go somewhere, my master. My masters, the people of the village, do you go away with me?" And the village people kept saying to him, "Yes, we are going along with you." Then the spirit said, "The persons that are going to invite me from here are not human beings. They are already getting ready to come."

By and by the canoe came after him. He seemed to know that there was something about to happen, and said, "Somehow or other you people look strange. He put all of his things into small boxes ready to depart. Then he got in and they covered him with a mat until they reached their village, when he got up and saw some fine houses. The fronts were beautifully painted. Among these houses was one with a crowd of people in front which they tried to make him believe was that where the sick person lay. His rattle and belt, however, ran up on the shore ahead of him and entered the proper house, which was in another part of the town. These people were land otters, and they called him by name, "S!âwA'n, S!âwA'n." They said to him, "All the shamans among us have been doctoring him, and they can not do a thing. They can not see what is killing him. That is why we have asked you to come."

Then the shaman thought within himself, "Who will sing my songs for me?" but the land otters spoke out, saying, "We can sing your songs. Don't be worried." Inside of this house there hung a breastplate made out of carved bones, such as a shaman used in his spiritual combats. The land otters saw that he wanted it and said, "We will pay you that for curing him." Then the shaman began to perform. He could see that the land otter was made sick by an arrow point sticking in its side, but this was invisible to the land otters. After he had pulled it out, the sick otter, who belonged to the high-caste people, sat up immediately and asked for something to eat. The shaman kept the arrow point, however, because it was made of copper, and copper was very expensive in those days.

Then one of the land-otter shamans said to him, "I will show you something about my spirits." And so he did. He saw some very strange things. When he was shown one kind of spirit, the land otter said, "You see that. That is Sickness (Nîk!). What he called Sickness was the spirit of a clam. These clams look to the spirits like human beings. That is why the spirits are so strong." He also showed him the Spirit of the Sea (Dekî'na yêk), the Spirit of the Land (Dê'qna-yêk), the Spirit from Above (Kîyê'gî), and the Spirit from Below (Hâyî'nAq-yêk). All these became the man's spirits afterward.

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Nowadays, when a man wants to become a shaman, he has to cut the tongue of a land otter and fast for eight days. You can tell a shaman who has been fasting a great deal because his eyes become very sharp.

After he had shown all of the spirits, they said, "We will take you to your town any time you want to go." Then they took him to his own town. They had to cover him up again.

The people of S!âwA'n's village were always looking for him, and one day four men in a canoe saw something far out on the shore which looked very strange. A number of sea gulls were flying around it. Going closer, they saw the shaman lying there on a long sandy beach, the gulls around him. They did not know of any sandy bay at that point, and said that it was the shaman that brought it up there. They then took him into the canoe and brought him over. He was so thin that he appeared to have fasted a long time. After they got him home the spirits began mentioning their names, saying, "I am Spirit of the Sea; I am Spirit of the Land," etc. Every time a spirit mentioned his name, the people would start its songs.


Next: 31. Raven, Part XXI