|The Child and The Cannibal
A Bella Coola Legend
Once upon a time there was a youth whose name was Anutkoats, who was playing with a number of girls behind the village. While they were
playing, a noise like the cracking of twigs was heard in the woods.
The noise came nearer and nearer. The youth hid behind a tree, and saw that a Snanaik was approaching. She was chewing gum, which caused
the noise. He advised the children to run away, but they did not obey. When they saw the gum, they stepped up to the Snanaik and asked her to
give them some. The Snanaik gave a piece of gum to all the children, and when she saw Anutkoats, who was advising the children to return home,
she took him and threw him into the basket which she was carrying on her back.
Then she took all the other children and threw them on top of him into her basket. After she had done so, she turned homeward. Then Anutkoats
whispered to the girls to take off their cedar-bark blankets and to escape through a hole that he was going to cut in the basket. He took his knife,
cut a hole in the bottom of the basket, and fell down. The girls also fell down one by one until only one of them was left.
All the children returned home and told their parents what had happened. The mother of the girl who had not been able to escape began to cry,
mourning for her daughter. She cried for four days and four nights. Then her nose began to swell, because she had been rubbing it all the time.
She had thrown the mucus of her nose on the ground. Now when she looked down, she saw that something was moving at the place where it had
She watched it from the corners of her eyes, and soon discovered that her mucus was assuming the shape of a little child. The next time she looked,
the child had grown to the size of a new-born baby. Then the woman took ti up, and the child began to cry. She carried it into the house, and
washed the baby for four days.
Then the child, who was very pretty and had red hair, began to speak, and said, "My father, the Sun, sent me to ask you to stop crying. I shall go
out into the woods, but pray don't cry, for I am sent to recover your daughter. I know where she is. Make a small salmon-spear for me, which I
shall need." thus spoke the boy.
Then the woman asked an old man to make a salmon-spear, which she gave to her son. His mother gave him ear-rings made of abalone shells,
and the boy played about with his spear, and always wore his ear ornaments.
One day when his mother was crying again, the boy said, "Mother, I ask you once more, don't cry, for my father the Sun sent me down to bring
back your daughter. He will show me where she is. I shall start today to recover my sister from the Snanaik who stole her. Don't worry about
Then the boy went up the river. After he had gone some distance, he came to a tree which overhung the river. He climbed it, and looked down in
order to see if there were any fish in the water. Soon he heard a noise some distance up the stream, and gradually it sounded nearer. Then he saw
the Snanaik coming down the river. When she reached the tree, she stopped and looked down into the clear water. She saw the image of the boy,
who was sitting in the tree, and thought it was her own reflection.
She said, "How pretty I am!" and she brushed her hair back out of her face. When she did so, the boy imitated her movements in order to make her
believe that she was looking at her own reflection. When she laughed, he laughed also, in order to deceive her. But at last the Snanaik looked
upward, and saw the boy sitting in the tree.
Then she addressed him with kindly words, and asked him to come down. She said, "What did your mother do in order to make you so pretty?"
The boy replied, "You cannot endure the treatment I had to undergo in order to become as pretty as I am."
The Snanaik begged, "Oh, come down and tell me. I am willing to stand even the greatest pain in order to become as pretty as you are. What are
you doing up there?"
Then the boy said, "I was watching for salmon, which I desire to harpoon with my salmon-spear."
The Snanaik repeated, "Oh, come down, and do with me whatever you please in order to make me as pretty as you are."
The boy replied, "I don't believe you can endure the wounds that I have to inflict upon you."
She replied, "You may cut me as much as you please. I want to become as pretty as you are."
Then the boy climbed down the tree, and the Snanaik asked, "What must we do first?"
He said, "We must go up this river to find two stone knives with which my mother used to cut off my head."
They walked up the river, and found the stone knives. Then the boy said to the Snanaik, "Now lie down on this stone. Put your neck on this knife."
The Snanaik did as she was bidden. Then the boy took the other knife, told the Snanaik to shut her eyes, and cut off her head. The head jumped
back to the body, and was about to unite with it, when the boy passed his hands over the wound, and thus prevented the severed head from joining
the body again. Thus he had killed her.
Then he went to the Snanaik's house. He found his sister whom the Snanaik had killed and smoked over her fire. He took the body down, and
patted it all over with his hands. Thus he resuscitated the girl.
On looking around in the house, he found the dried bodies of other children, whom he also brought back to life. Then he took the girl and the other
Music: The Sacred Fire by AH-NEE-MAH
|The Man Who Acted As The Sun
A Bella Coola Legend
Once upon a time there lived a woman some distance up the Bella Coola River. She refused the offer of marriage from the young men of the tribe,
because she desired to marry the Sun. She left her village and went to seek the Sun.
Finally she reached his house, and married the Sun. After she had been there one day, she had a child. He grew very quickly, and on the second
day of his life he was able to walk and to talk. After a short time he said to his mother, "I should like to see your mother and your father;" and he
began to cry, making his mother feel homesick.
When the Sun saw that his wife felt downcast, and that his son was longing to see his grandparents, he said, "You may return to the Earth to see
your parents. Descend along my eyelashes." His eyelashes were the rays of the Sun, which he extended down to his wife's home, where they lived
with the woman's parents.
The boy was playing with the children of the village, who were teasing him, saying that he had no father. He began to cry, and went to his mother,
whom he asked for bow and arrows. His mother gave him what he requested. He went outside and began to shoot his arrows towards the sky.
The first arrow struck the sky and stuck in it; the second arrow hit the notch of the first one; and thus he continued until a chain was formed,
extending from the sky down to the place where he was standing. Then he ascended the chain.
He found the house of the Sun, which he entered. He told his father that the boys had been teasing him, and he asked him to let him carry the sun.
But his father said, "You cannot do it. I carry many torches. Early in the morning and late in the evening I burn small torches, but at noon I burn
the large ones." The boy insisted on his request. Then his father gave him the torches, warning him at the same time to observe carefully the
instructions that he was giving him in regard to their use.
Early the next morning, the young man started on the course of the sun, carrying the torches. Soon he grew impatient, and lighted all the torches
at once. Then it grew very hot. The trees began to burn, and many animals jumped into the water to save themselves, but the water began to boil.
Then his mother covered the people with her blanket, and thus saved them. The animals hid under stones.
The ermine crept into a hole, which, however, was not quite large enough, so that the tip of its tail protruded from the entrance. It was scorched,
and since that time the tip of the ermine's tail has been black. The mountain-goat hid in a cave, hence its skin is perfectly white. All the animals
that did not hide were scorched, and therefore have black skins, but the skin on their lower side remained lighter.
When the Sun saw what was happening, he said to his son, "Why do you do so? Do you think it is good that there are no people on the Earth?"
The Sun took him and cast him down from the heavens, saying, "You shall be the mink, and future generations of man shall hunt you."
In a place on Bella Coola River, there used to be a salmon-weir. A chief and his wife lived at this place. One day the wife was cutting salmon on the
bank of the river. When she opened the last salmon, she found a small boy in it.
She took him out and washed him in the river. She placed him near by, entered the house, and said to the people, "Come and see what I have found
in my salmon!" She had a child in her house, which was still in the cradle. The little boy whom she had found was half as long as her fore-arm.
She carried him into the house, and the people advised her to take good care of him. She nursed him with her own baby.
When the people were talking in the house, the baby looked around as though he understood what they were saying. On the following day the
people were surprised to see how much he had grown, and in a few days he was as tall as any ordinary child. Her own baby also grew up with
marvelous rapidity. She gave each of them one breast. After a few days they were able to walk and to talk.
The two young men were passing by the houses, and looked into the doorways. There was a house in the center of this town; there they saw a
beautiful girl sitting in the middle of the house. Her hair was red, and reached down to the floor. She was very white. Her eyes were large, and as
clear as rock crystal. The boy fell in love with the girl. They went on, but his thoughts were with her.
The Salmon boy said, "I am going to enter this house. You must watch closely what I do, and imitate me. The Door of this house tries to bite every
one who enters." The Door opened, and the Salmon jumped into the house. Then the Door snapped, but missed him. When it opened again, the
boy jumped into the house. They found a number of people inside, who invited them to sit down. They spread food before them, but the boy did not
like their food. It had a very strong smell, and looked rather curious. It consisted of algae that grow on logs that lie in the river.
When the boy did not touch it, one of the men said to him, "Maybe you want to eat those two children. Take them down to the river and throw
them into the water, but do not look." The two children arose, and he took them down to the river. Then he threw them into the water without
looking at them. At the place where he had thrown them down, he found a male and a female Salmon. He took them up to the house and roasted
The people told him to preserve the intestines and the bones carefully. After he had eaten, one of the men told him to carry the intestines and the
bones to the same place where he had thrown the children into the water. He carried them in his hands, and threw them into the river without
looking. When he entered the house, he heard the children following him.
The girl was covering one of her eyes with her hands. The boy was limping, because he had lost one of his bones. Then the people looked at the
place where the boy had been sitting, and they found the eye, and a bone from the head of the male salmon. They ordered the boy to throw these
into the water. He took the children and the eye and the bone, and threw them into the river. Then the children were hale and well.
After a while the youth said to his Salmon brother, "I wish to go to the other house where I saw the beautiful girl." They went there, and he said to
his Salmon brother, "Let us enter. I should like to see her face well."
They went in. Then the man arose, and spread a caribou blanket for them to sit on, and the people gave them food. Then he whispered to his
brother, "Tell the girl I want to marry her." The Salmon boy told the girl, who smiled, and said, "He must not marry me. Whoever marries me
must die. I like him, and I do not wish to kill him; but if he wishes to die, let him marry me.
The woman was the Salmon-berry Bird. After one day she gave birth to a boy, and on the following day she gave birth to a girl. She was the
daughter of the Spring Salmon.
After a while the girl's father said, "Let us launch our canoe, and let us carry the young man back to his own people." He sent a messenger to call
all the people of the village; and they all made themselves ready, and early the next morning they started in their canoes. The young man went in
the canoe of the Spring Salmon, which was the fastest.
The canoe of the Sock-eye Salmon came next. The people in the canoe of the Calico Salmon were laughing all the time. They went up the river; and
a short distance below the village of the young man's father they landed, and made fast their canoes. Then they sent two messengers up the river to
see if the people had finished their salmon weir.
Soon they returned with information that the weir had been finished. Then they sent the young man and his wife, and they gave them a great
many presents for the young man's father.
The watchman who was stationed at the salmon-weir saw two beautiful salmon entering the trap. They were actually the canoes of the salmon;
but they looked to him like two salmon. Then the watchman put the traps down over the weir, and he saw a great many fish entering them. He
raised the trap when it was full, and took the fish out.
The young man thought, "I wish he would treat me and my wife carefully," and his wish came true. The man broke the heads of the other salmon,
but he saved the young man and his wife. Then he carried the fish up to the house, and hung them over a pole.
During the night the young man and his wife resumed their human shape. The youth entered his father's house. His head was covered with
eagle-down. He said to his father, "I am the fish whom you caught yesterday. Do you remember the time when you lost me? I have lived in the
country of the Salmon. The Salmon accompanied me here. They are staying a little father down the river. It pleases the Salmon to see the people
eating fish." And, turning to his mother, he continued, "You must be careful when cutting Salmon.
"Never break any of their bones, but preserve them, and throw them into the water." The two children of the young man had also entered into the
salmon-trap. He put some leaves on the ground, placed red and white cedar-bark over them, and covered them with eagle-down, and he told his
mother to place the Salmon upon these.
As soon as he had given these instructions, the Salmon began to come up the river. They crossed the weir and entered the traps. They went up the
river as far as Stuick, and the people dried the Salmon according to his instructions. They threw the bones into the water, and the Salmon returned
to life, and went back to their own country, leaving their meat behind.
The Cohoes Salmon had the slowest canoe, and therefore he was the last to reach the villages. He gave many presents to the Indians. He gave
them many-colored leaves, and thus caused the leaves of the trees to change color in the autumn.
Now all the Salmon had returned. The Salmon-berry Bird and her children had returned with them. Then the young man made up his mind to
build a small hut, from which he intended to catch eagles. He used a long pole, to which a noose was attached. The eagles were baited by means of
Salmon. He spread a mat in his little house, and when he caught an eagle he pulled out its down.
He accumulated a vast amount of down. Then he went back to his house and asked his younger brother to accompany him. When they came to
the hut which he had used for catching eagles, he gave the boy a small staff. Then he said to him, "Do not be sorry when I leave you. I am going to
visit the Sun. I am not going to stay away a long time. I staid long in the country of the Salmon, but I shall not stay long in heaven.
"I am going to lie down on this mat. Cover me with this down, and then begin to beat time with your staff. You will see a large feather flying
upward, then stop." The boy obeyed, and everything happened as he had said. The boy saw the feather flying in wide circles. When it reached a
great height, it began to soar in large circles, and finally disappeared in the sky. Then the boy cried, and went back to his mother.
The young man who had ascended to heaven found there a large house. It was the House of Myths. There he resumed his human shape, and
peeped in at the door. Inside he saw a number of people who were turning their faces toward the wall. They were sitting on a low platform in the
rear of the house. In the right-hand corner of the house he saw a large fire, and women sitting around it. He leaned forward and looked into the
house. An old woman discovered him, and beckoned him to come to her. He stepped up to her, and she warned him by signs not to go to the rear
of the house. She said, "Be careful!
"The men in the rear of the house intend to harm you." She opened a small box and gave him the bladder of a mountain-goat, which contained the
cold wind. She told him to open the bladder if they should attempt to harm him. She said that if he opened it, no fire could burn him. She told him
that the men were going to place him near the fire, in order to burn him; that one of them would wipe his face, then fire would come forth from the
floor, scorching everything.
The old woman told him everything that the people were going to do. Now the man in the rear of the house turned round. He was the Sun himself.
He was going to try the strength of the visitor. When he saw the young man, he said to the old woman, "Did anybody come to visit you? Let the
young man come up to me. I wish him to sit down near me." The young man stepped up to the Sun, and as soon as he had sat sown, the Sun wiped
his face and looked at the young man (he had turned his face while he was wiping it).
Then the young man felt very hot. He tied his blanket tightly round his body, and opened the bladder which the woman had given him. Then the
cold wind that blows down the mountains in the winter was liberated, and he felt cool and comfortable. The Sun had not been able to do him any
harm. The old man did not say anything, but looked at his visitor.
After a while he said, "I wish to show you a little underground house that stands behind this house." They both rose and went outside. The small
house had no door. Access was had to it by an opening in the center of the roof, through which a ladder led down to the floor. Not a breath of air
entered this house. It was made of stone. When they had entered, the Sun made a small fire in the middle of the house; then he climbed the ladder
and closed the door, leaving his visitor inside. The Sun pulled up the ladder, in order to make escape impossible. Then the house began to grow
When the boy felt that he could not stand the heat any longer, he opened the bladder, and the cold wind came out; snow began to fall on the fire,
which was extinguished; icicles began to form on the roof, and it was cool and comfortable inside. After a while the Sun said to his four daughters,
"Go to the little underground house that stands behind our house, and sweep it," meaning that they were to remove the remains of the young man
whom he believed to be burned. They obeyed at once, each being eager to be the first to enter. When they opened the house, they were much
surprised to find icicles hanging down from the roof.
When they were climbing down the ladder, the youth arose and scratched them. The youngest girl was the last to step down. The girls cried when
the youth touched them, and ran away. The Sun heard their screams, and asked the reason. He was much surprised and annoyed to hear that the
young man was still alive. Then he devised another way of killing his visitor. He told his daughters to call him into his house. They went, and the
young man re-entered the House of Myths. In the evening he lay down to sleep.
Then the Sun said to his daughters, "Early tomorrow morning climb the mountain behind our house. I shall tell the boy to follow you." The girls
started while the visitor was still asleep. The girls climbed up to a small meadow which was near a precipice. They had taken the form of
mountain-goats. When the Sun saw his daughters on the meadow, he called to his visitor, saying, "See those mountain-goats!" The young man
arose when he saw the mountain-goats. He wished to kill them. The Sun advised him to walk up the right-hand side of the mountain, saying that
the left-hand side was dangerous. The young man carried his bow and arrows.
The Sun said, "Do not use your own arrows! Mine are much better." Then they exchanged arrows, the Sun giving him four arrows of his own.
The points of these arrows were made of coal.
Now, the young man began to climb the mountain. When he came up to the goats, he took one of the arrows, aimed it, and shot. It struck the
animal, but fell down without killing it. The same happened with the other arrows. When he had spent all his arrows, they rushed up to him from
the four sides, intending to kill him. His only way of escape was in the direction of the precipice. They rushed up to him, and pushed him down the
He fell headlong, but when he was halfway down he transformed himself into a ball of bird's down. He alighted gently on a place covered with
many stones. There he resumed the shape of a man, arose, and ran into the house of the Sun to get his own arrows. He took them, climbed the
mountain again, and found the mountain-goats on the same meadow. He shot them and killed them, and threw them down the precipice; then he
returned. He found the goats at the foot of the precipice, and cut off their feet. He took them home.
He found the Sun sitting in front of the house. He offered him the feet, saying, "Count them, and see how many I have killed." The Sun counted
them and now he knew that all his children were dead. Then he cried, "You killed my children!" Then the youth took the bodies of the goats, fitted
the feet on, and threw the bodies into a little river that was running past the place where they had fallen down. Thus they were restored to life.
He had learned this art in the country of the Salmon. Then he said to the girls, "Now run to see your father! He is wailing for you." They gave him
a new name, saying, "He has restored us to life." The boy followed them. Then the Sun said, when he entered, "You shall marry my two eldest
On the next morning the people arose. Then the Sun said to them, "What shall I do to my son-in-law?" He called him, and said, "Let us raise the
trap of my salmon-weir." They went up the river in the Sun's canoe. The water of the river was boiling. The youth was in the bow of the canoe,
while the Sun was steering. He caused the canoe to rock, intending to throw the young man into the water. The water formed a small cascade,
running down over the weir. He told the young man to walk over the top of the weir in order to reach the trap.
He did so, walking over the top beam of the weir. When he reached the baskets, the beam fell over, and he himself fell into the water. The Sun saw
him rise twice in the whirlpool just below the weir. When he did not see him rise again, he turned his canoe, and thought, "Now the boy has
certainly gone to Nuskyakek." The Sun returned to his house, and said to his daughters, "I lost my son-in-law in the river. I was not able to find
him." Then his daughters were very sad.
When the boy disappeared in the water, he was carried to Nuskyakek; and he resumed the shape of a salmon while in the water, and as soon as he
landed he resumed human shape and returned to his wife. The Sun saw him coming, and was much surprised. In the evening they went to sleep.
On the following morning the Sun thought, "How can I kill my son-in-law?" After a while he said top him, "Arise! We will go and split wood for
He took his tools. They launched their canoe, and went down the river to the sea. When they reached there, it was perfectly calm. There were
many snags embedded in the mud in the mouth of the river, some of which were only half submerged. They selected one of these snags a long
distance from the shore, and began to split it. Then the Sun intentionally dropped his hammer into the water, and thought at the same time, "Do
not fall straight down, but fall sideways, so that he will have much difficulty in finding you." Then he sat down in his canoe, and said, "Oh, I lost
my old hammer. I had it at the time when the Sun was created." He looked down into the water, and did not say a word.
After a while he said to the young man, "Do you know how to dive? Can you get my hammer? The water is not very deep here." The young man
did not reply. Then the Sun continued, "I will not go back without my hammer."
Then the boy said, "I know how to dive. If you so wish, I will try to get it."
The Sun promised to give him supernatural power if he was able to bring the hammer back. The youth jumped into the water, and then the Sun
ordered the sea to rise, and he called the cold wind to make the water freeze. It grew so cold that a sheet of ice a fathom thick was formed at once
on top of the sea.
"Now," he thought, "I certainly have killed you!" He left his canoe frozen up in the ice, and went home. He said to his daughters, "I have lost my
son-in-law. He drifted away when the cold winds began to blow down the mountains. I have also lost my little hammer."
But when he mentioned his hammer, his daughters knew at once what had happened. The young man found the hammer, and after he had
obtained it he was going to return to the canoe, but he struck his head against the ice, and was unable to get out. He tried everywhere to find a
crack. Finally he found a very narrow one. He transformed himself into a fish, and came out of the crack. He jumped about on the ice in the form
of a fish, and finally resumed his own shape.
He went back to the Sun's house, carrying the hammer. The Sun was sitting in front of the fire, his knees drawn up, and his legs apart. His eyes
were closed, and he was warming himself. The young man took his hammer and threw it right into his stomach, saying, "Now take better care of
The young man scolded the Sun, saying, "Now stop trying to kill me. If you try again, I shall kill you. Do you think I am an ordinary man? You
cannot conquer me." The Sun did not reply.
In the evening he said to his son-in-law, "I hear a bird singing, which I should like very much to have."
The young man asked, "What bird is it?"
The Sun replied, "I do not know it. Watch it early tomorrow morning."
The young man resolved to catch the bird. Very early in the morning he arose, then he heard the bird singing outside. He knew at once that it was
the ptarmigan. He left the house, and thought, "I wish you would come down!" Then the bird came down, ane when it was quite near by he shot it.
He hit one of its wings, intending to catch it alive.
He waited for the Sun to arise. The bird understood what the young man said, who thus spoke: "The chief here wishes to see you. Do not be afraid,
I am not going to kill you. The chief has often tried to kill me, but he has been unable to do so. You do not need to be afraid." The young man
continued, "When it is dark I shall tell the Sun to ask you to sit near him, and when he is asleep I want you to peck out his eyes."
When the Sun arose, the youth went into the house carrying the bird, saying, "I have caught the bird; now I hope you will treat it kindly. It will
awaken us when it is time to arise. When you lie down, let it sit down near you, then it will call you in the morning."
In the evening the Sun asked the bird to sit down next to his face. When he was asleep, the bird pecked out his eyes without his knowing it. Early in
the morning he heard the bird singing. He was going to open his eyes, but he was not able to do so. Then he called his son, saying, "The bird has
The young man jumped up and went to his father-in-law, and said, "Why did you wish for the bird? Do you think it is good? It is a bad bird. It
has pecked out your eyes." He took the bird and carried it outside, and thanked it for having done as it was bidden. Then the bird flew away.
When it was time for the Sun to start on his daily course, he said, "I am afraid I might fall because I cannot see my way." For four days he staid in
his house. He did not eat, he was very sad. Then his son-in-law made up his mind to cure him. He did not do so before, because he wanted to
punish him for his badness.
He took some water, and said to his father-in-law, "I will try to restore your eyesight." He threw water upon his eyes, and at once his eyes were
healed and well.
He said, "Now you can see what power I have. The water with which I have washed my face has the power to heal diseases. While I was in the
country of the Salmon, I bathed in the water in which the old Salmon bathed, in order to regain youth, therefore the water in which I wash makes
everything young and well."
From this time on, the Sun did not try to do any harm to the young man.
Finally he wished to return to his father's village. He left the house, and jumped down through the hole in heaven. His wife saw him being
transformed into a ball of eagle-down, which floated down gently. Then her father told her to climb as quickly as she could down his eyelashes.
She did so, and reached the ground at the same time as her husband. He met his younger brother, who did not recognize him. He had been in
heaven for one year.
|The Sun Tests His Son-In-Law
A Bella Coola Legend