Sacred Texts  Native American  Northwest  Index  Previous  Next 


A man at Sitka had three little children who were crying with hunger because he had nothing to give them. His sister had been captured by the land otters after having been nearly drowned. Then be said to the little ones, "You poor children, I wish your aunt were living." Some time afterward that same evening he heard a load set down outside, and going out to look, he saw a very large basket filled with all kinds of dried meat and fish, and oil. The sister he had been wishing for had brought it. Then this woman herself came in and said, "I have brought that for the little ones. I will be right back again. I live only a short distance from here.

p. 188

[paragraph continues] We have a village there named Transparent-village (KânA'xA-dak-ân). You must come and stay with us." The man said that he was making a canoe and had to finish it, but she replied, "Your nephews are coming over, and they will finish your canoe for you."

After the food that his sister had brought him had given out she came to him again with more and said, "I have come after you now. Bring your little ones and come along. I see that you are having a hard time with them."

So her brother prepared to go. Before he started he got some blue hellebore (s!îkc), which he soaked in water to make it very strong and bitter, and finally his sister's boys came, fine-looking young men who were peculiar only in having very long braids of hair hanging down their backs. In reality these were their tails. He showed them where his canoe was so that they could go to work on it, and, after they had completed it roughly, they pulled it down for him.

Then the man started off with his family, and, sure enough, when he rounded the point what appeared to him like a fine village lay there. The people came to meet them, but his sister said, "Don't stay right in the village. Stay here, a little distance away."

The people of that place were very good to him and gave him all the halibut he wanted, but he always had the blue hellebore by him to keep from being injuriously affected. They were also in the habit of singing a cradle song for his youngest child which went this way, "The tail is growing. The tail is growing." Then he examined the child, and in fact a tail was really growing upon it, so he chopped it off.

Finally the man's sister told him that he was staying there a little too long, and he started back toward his village. As he went he looked back, and there was nothing to be seen but land-otter holes. Before they had appeared like painted houses. Then he returned to his own place with all kinds of food given him by the land otters.


187:a See story 6.

Next: 46. The Land-Otters' Captive