Sacred Texts  Native American  Northwest  Index  Previous  Next 


An orphan girl in the Tlingit country named SAhâ'n (Orphan) was adopted by some high-caste people so that she might be a companion to their only daughter. She was very fond of going to the creek to get water, and the chief's daughter always accompanied her. Every time they went the chief's daughter would drink water from this creek against the protests of her foster sister, and it made her very unlucky. When she married into another high-caste family her husband became very poor on account of her and finally abandoned her. Then he married Orphan, who was very bright and knew how to take care of things, and she made him rich. She was quiet and paid a great deal of attention to her husband. The village people were also very much pleased with her, for after her husband married her, they lived off of him.

Everything that this girl had was good, her dishes and spoons being all set with abalone shell. She had four adopted brothers, of whom the elder two were rich but the younger two very poor and unlucky. The former she would always treat well because she knew that they were bright and able to take care of things, and she always gave them food in her fine dishes. When she invited her poor brothers her husband would say, "Go and get your dishes now and let your brothers eat off of them," but she always answered, "No, I don't want to let them use my good dishes. They might leave the marks of poverty on them."

After Orphan had lived some time in luxury, however, her husband died, and, as was customary, her husband's relations took the property all away from her. She became as poor as. she had been before. Luck went against her because she had treated her poor brothers so meanly. That is why, nowadays, when a rich person has a poor brother he always treats him just as well as the rich one.

Next: 81. The Dead Basket-Maker