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Yana Texts, by Edward Sapir, [1910], at


p. 178

(The) medicine woman (said), "It is four days now that I have been doctoring her, and she is not well yet. I am afraid that perhaps she will not recover." "Do you go after him," (said the sick woman's husband,) "perhaps he will cure her. He is always saying, 'I am a great medicine-man.'"

(The medicine-man) has arrived. "Put down water on the ground!" 274 Round white shell beads he offered him as pay, he offered him dentalia. (He thought,) "He will be glad because of these, when he sees them." "I do not like these trinkets

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here," (said the medicine-man). "I like p!ale'‘si shell beads." "And do you doctor her! Doctor her during the night, perhaps she will recover." "Oh, I am not afraid of my doctoring the one that is sick. Why should I be afraid? I am a medicine-man. She will not cry. She will yet eat her own food." "Go out of the house! Shout! Call upon your dream spirit So always does the medicine-man do." "She will recover, I dreamt. 'Pray speak to the spring of water!' my dream tells me. 'Pray do not eat! Go ahead and eat tomorrow when the sun is overhead! You shall go to the spring to bathe!' I dreamt. 'Pray pass the night on the mountain!' Now I shall return in the night. Wake up the people. They will help to sing. I am a good medicine-man. 'Pray ask the rocks! Ask the trees! Ask the logs! Go about twice, and the owl will talk and the yellowhammer, and pray roll tobacco between your hands and smoke it. Do not eat anything! Pick up the round luck stones!' Thus I dreamt. She will recover."

"Ho! you people wake up! He's 275 already coming back. Do you all go into the house together and sing. I shall do likewise whenever any of you are sick; I shall do likewise, even if I do not sleep. There are still other people who have not come to my house. If I had had much to eat they would all have come, and they would all have been laughing among themselves, if I should have had food to give them. 276 Those people do not like to assist in singing. I shall go to bring them; they shall help to sing. I suppose they raise their hands contemptuously at me. 277 Perhaps, is it not, they are sound asleep or eating, therefore they do not come over. I suppose they do not hear. Run over to tell them to come tomorrow! 'I am a sensible person,' indeed they say. Pray do not let them say that, even if they have handsome wives. 278 If they refuse, pray let at least one come along. Pray

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let him come the day after tomorrow." "I should like to see my brother. Do you go after him to bring him back to me!" (said the sick woman).

(The medicine-man said,) "I have dreamt of everything. 'Pray do so!' it said to me. 'Doctor her for three nights!' said my dream to me. 'She shall recover and go about, she shall go off to get roots, she shall procure food for herself,' said my dream to me. 'Shout! Run around the house, when you are about to enter the house again.' Pray do not make a noise. Pray stop the children from making a sound, stop the dogs from making a noise! I might stagger and fall down, I have not much heart." (When he returned, he said,) "There is no one here, I am the first. I am tired already. The medicine-woman is angry, is she not? therefore she does not help me in doctoring. Let her soak cu'nna roots in water. I shall eat them raw. Now I shall eat them, if I see that she 279 is to eat her own. I shall not go off and leave her, I shall go off home only when she shall have recovered. I rejoice (that she will recover). I do not like to have my brother lose her. I always come here and I always eat here, that is why I am sorry for him. I am the only medicine-man. I go to every spring, and I am answered. It 280 will not abandon me. Blood flows from out of my nose, I have it running out of my body; the blood flows straight out, every part of my body is covered with blood. I shall find it 281 for you. If I die, then all the good people will die, then they will drop dead. I was possessed of supernatural power. The women are not thus. The women that are doctors I have never yet heard to cure; they merely put on style, wearing their ceremonial net-caps. I am not thus, that is why I remain alive. 282 I am let alone, and I am good. People take pity on me, that is why it is that I am quick to take pity on them. I am seen coming and she is told, 'Hurry up and cook! he is already coining! Feed him!' he says to his wife. 'Cook!'

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he says. 'Feed him!' I dreamt, that is why I came here; I came to see what I could do for you. I would not do thus, I shall not step in that trail, if I drop dead. Now I shall have ceased. 283 I seem to be like one who looks on, while you people are eating. I have never done thus, although my people are many in number. 284 I seem to be like one who looks on, and as though I say, 'Would that I might enter the house!', that therefore I came."


p. 182

He had been bringing her food. (She said to him,) "I do not love you." (Her mother said to her,) "I like him. Take him for your husband! I want to have him as son-in-law. I will not have you in my house, you shall not again enter my house (unless you take him as husband). Let us get food!" 286 (Then she said to him,) "We shall go together. I love you very much. To-morrow we shall get married. Let all of your people come here. All of you come and see us, and stay all night! I have nothing to say against it. I do not know what (my mother) says, but probably she will be very glad to have (you) as son-in-law.

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(Her mother said to her,) "I am glad that you have taken him as husband; I am tired of feeding you. You shall go home with him and keep house with him, and you will have children. Truly I shall come to see you, and he will come to see us. Whenever I am hungry you will give us food. He will go to hunt deer, and I shall fetch it home. He will go to get salmon, and I shall fetch it home. Do you give us food! You shall give us food, and I shall pound acorns. I shall do similarly for you. I shall fetch them to your house, and you will feel rejoiced, my daughter! Whenever you see me coming you will feel rejoiced, and you will give food to your people. Every one of them will be glad. You have always been very good, you have been sensible. Your husband is a good man and he is sensible."

(He said to her,) "And I will give you as food whatever I hunt. Surely I shall not whip you. You on your part shall not scold me." (She said to him,) "If I have a child we shall go off to your house. Stay now in my house." (He said to her,) "Yes, I will stay in your house. Now I shall go out hunting." (She said to him,) "Now we shall grow old together. Perhaps it will be I who shall die first, perhaps it will be you."


174:273 In this and the following texts attempt was made to secure from Betty Brown an account in her own language of some phases of Yana religious and social life. Owing to her tendency to use conversational narrative instead of general description, these texts are rather illustrative by means of real or imaginary incidents of the life of the Yana than ethnologically satisfying statements. No. XIV gives an idea of the touchy medicine-man, insulted because few are found willing to assist him in his doctoring.

178:274 For the medicine-man. Cf. p. 193, l. 2.

179:275 I.e., the medicine-man, who has passed the night up on the mountain to gain supernatural power.

179:276 They would laugh for joy. As it is, they are not very enthusiastic about helping a poor man.

179:277 It was a sign of contempt to extend one's arm with outspread fingers towards another.

179:278 Bitterly ironical.

180:279 I.e., the sick woman.

180:280 I.e., my supernatural power, guardian spirit.

180:281 I.e., the disease-causing "pain."

180:282 He implies that he does not cause any one's death, so that there has been no reason to seek his life. If a medicine-man failed too frequently to cure, he was suspected of malice and was decapitated.

181:283 The medicine-man is disgusted with the scurvy treatment accorded him and swears never to do as much again.

181:284 I.e., although there are many relatives whose hospitality I might claim.

182:286 In other words, the mother finds it hard to support her daughter and is only too glad to dispose of her to a desirable son-in-law.

Next: XVI. A Lovers' Quarrel