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Pregnancy and Birth

When a woman is with child she does not sleep long. She awakes early in the morning and arises at once. She opens the door. She does not stay in the doorway, but goes out at once. When a woman who is with child sits down, nobody must stand back of her and nobody must lie down crosswise [at her feet]. It is the same at night [when she lies down]. When a person lies down near her, his head must point in the same direction as her feet are turned. When she comes to a creek she jumps across twice. She does not lie down outside the house, else the sun would make her sick. It is forbidden. She does not wear a necklace, else the navel-string would be wound around the child's neck. She does not wear bracelets, else the navel-string would be tied around the child's arm. She does not look at a corpse. She does not look at anything that is dead. It is forbidden. She does not look at a raccoon nor at an otter. She does not look at anything that is rotten. She does not blow up a [seal] bladder. She does not eat anything that has been found. It is forbidden. She does not eat trout nor steel-head salmon. It is forbidden. Her husband does not eat anything that has been found. He does not kill raccoons. He does not singe seals. He does not shoot birds. He does not look at a corpse. He does not kill otters, else the child would get sick by sympathy. It is the same with the raccoon. When the child should fall sick and nearly die it would have a hard struggle against death, like the otter. It is the same with a bird or a raccoon. It would obtain sickness by sympathy. When a raccoon's eye is squeezed out [by the husband of the woman who is with child] the child's eye would be squeezed out. When the raccoon cries much on being struck [with a stick] the child will do the same when it is near death. When a woman who is with child eats trout, her child will faint whenever it cries and recover

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only after a long time. This will happen every day, sometimes it may faint four times a day. When her husband singes a seal, the child's body will be burnt all over. It will have blisters. When she blows up a [seal] bladder, the child will always have winds. When she eats anything that was found and there is a hole in it [eaten by birds or other animals], the child will have a hole at the same place. When she sleeps outside of the house, and it is nearly time for her child to be born, her belly will be filled with blood and she dies. When she stays a long time in the doorway and looks out of the house, the child will do the same when it is being born. It will take long for the child to be born. Sometimes the woman will die; sometimes the child. When a woman who is with child stays in bed long, she will do the same when she gives birth to the child. When anybody stands back of her the child will be born feet first.

When she gives birth to the child, she always heats five stones. She makes a hole in the ground and throws two stones into it. Then she ties her blanket around herself and takes a steam-bath over these stones. Five days and nights she takes steam-baths all the time. When the stones get cold she takes them out of the hole and puts others into it. She does so day and night. After she has finished her steam-bath she takes the stones inland and places them in the hollow of a tree with her coat, her tongs and her cedar-bark belt. The after-birth receives presents-short dentalia and beads. If this is not done the child dies after a short time. Then the after-birth takes it back. A woman who is with child does not drink water that has been standing [in a vessel] a day. She drinks only water that has just been taken from the river, else she will be sick for a long time.

When a chieftainess gives birth to a child a woman is called to look after her. Sometimes two are called. They take the child when it is born and wash it in a large dish. They take a good knife and cut its navel-string. Then the two women are paid; sometimes it is only one woman. It is the same with a male and with a female child. When the child is a girl the taboos extend over ten days; if it is a boy, they extend over five days. When it is a boy the father and the mother may eat fresh food after five days. If it is a girl they may eat fresh food after ten days.

One month after the birth of the child the people are invited by the father of the child. Now they dance. Now a man who has a guardian spirit [who helps him to understand] children, is asked to practice his art on the child. Then its ears are perforated. This is the custom of the Katlamat. They finish perforating its cars. Two holes are made in each ear and presents are distributed among the people. They are paid for dancing [for the child]. After a year, when the child begins to stand and to walk, the father becomes again glad and invites all the people, who dance for the child. Its ears are again perforated. Now five holes are made in each ear. This is done with both boys

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and girls. When the chief's child grows up and [first] catches fish with a hook, the father is gladdened again and invites the people. They dance, and all are paid for dancing. When the child becomes really large and shoots [the first] bird, he again invites the people. He gives a potlatch, and the people dance. Again all are paid for dancing for the child.


Other taboos and beliefs.--When a woman gives birth to a child out of doors, this will be a reproach to her child throughout life. Her husband is allowed to be present during her confinement.

The father must not go fishing for ten days nor do any work that requires his going out on the water. He must not go hunting, but he may gather wood. If the child is a boy this rule holds for five days only. If a sick person is in a house where a woman is about to be confined, his bed is surrounded with mats so that he cannot see the woman.

There is a certain guardian spirit which enables its possessor to understand the cries and the cooing of babies. The child may tell him where it came from. It may say: After four days I shall go home; then it will die after four days. This spirit informed us that the land of the children is in sunrise. If a child in a family dies and another one is born later on to the same family, it may be the same child which returned. Sometimes, if it died after its ears had been perforated, the new-born child will have its ears perforated. Old people cannot return as new-born infants.

Next: Puberty