Music: Creatures of Prophecy by The Native American Flute Ensemble
|Adam and Eve
A Thompson & Tlingit Legend
When this Earth was very young, only two people lived on it, a man called A'taam and a woman called Iim. The Chief (or God) lived in the upper
world, and the Outcast (or Devil) lived in the lower world.
They were enemies to each other, and tried to do each other harm, but God was more powerful. He frequently visited the Earth and talked with
A'taam and Iim.
One day the Devil created an animal like a horse, and made it appear before the man and woman. When the latter saw it, she said, "That is God come
to visit us;" but A'taam said it was not. At last, however, he believed it must be God, and they went and spoke with it.
Soon afterwards God appeared, and then they recognized the difference. He was angry and said, "Why do you mistake the Devil for me and converse
with him? Have I not told you he is evil, and will do you harm?" Then, looking at the animal, he said to the couple, "Well, since this beast is here, I
will so transform him that he will be useful to you."
He wetted both his thumbs, pressed them on the animal's front legs and thus marked him, saying, "Henceforth you will be a horse and a servant and
plaything of the people, who will ride you, and use you for many purposes. You will be a valuable slave of man."
Now the mosquitoes were tormenting the horse very much, so God plucked some long grass which grew near by, and threw it at the animal's
backside, and it became a long tail. He also threw some on the horse's neck, and it became a mane. He said, "Henceforth you will be able to protect
yourself from the mosquitoes."
Then he plucked out more grass, and threw it ahead of the horse, saying, "That will be your food." It turned into bunch grass, which soon spread over
the whole country.
Now God departed, telling the man and woman he would soon return and show them which trees bore the proper kinds of food to eat. Hitherto they
had eaten no fruit, for they did not know the edible varieties. At that time all trees bore fruit, and the pines and firs in particular had large sweet fruit.
Now the Devil appeared, and, pretending to be God, he took the large long fruit of the white pine, and gave it to the woman.
She thought it was God, ate the fruit as directed, and gave some to A'taam. Then the Devil disappeared; and all the fruit on the trees withered up and
became transformed into cones. Some kinds shriveled up to a small size, and became berries.
When God came and saw what had happened, he sent the woman to live with the Devil, and, taking A'taam, he broke off his lower rib, and made a
woman out of it. This rib-woman became A'taam's wife, and bore many children to him.
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|Battle of the Birds
A Thompson Legend
All the birds agreed to help the Hala'u to steal the wife of the Bald-headed Eagle, who was a very good woman, but got treated bad by her husband.
The Hala'u said, "We will all go to the underground lodge of our grandfather, the Bald-headed Eagle. I will stay outside whilst all of you go inside,
and engage him in a game of lahal, and you will at the same time complain of the cold, and keep putting wood on the fire, until the house gets very
hot, then his wife will be sure to come outside to cool herself." Accordingly all the birds entered, and engaged the Bald-headed Eagle in a game. They
did as directed by the Hala'u, and soon the place was very hot.
Before long the wife arose and said, "I am going out to cool myself. I cannot stand the heat." As soon as she got outside, the Hala'u took possession of
her, and conducted her to his house. Shortly afterwards the birds ceased playing with the Bald-headed Eagle, and all went home in a body. As the
woman did not return, the Bald-headed Eagle knew what had happened, and began to train himself.
After training for some time, he donned a collar of several thickness of birch-bark, and repaired to the house of the Hala'u, where all the birds were
assembled. Here he took up his position on the top of the ladder, and challenged them to battle.
Each one of the smaller birds went in succession to the woman to get his hair combed, and straightway to fight the Bald-headed Eagle; but they all fell
an easy prey to their warlike and powerful enemy.
Then the larger and more powerful birds had their hair combed and went out; but they also were slain. The Raven had his hair combed by the
woman and then went out; but he, too, soon fell a victim.
Next came the Chicken Hawk; but he soon shared the same fate. Then the Fish Hawk sailed forth, and there was a stubborn fight; but eventually the
Bald-headed Eagle killed him and cut off his head. After that the Hala'u himself went forth with a bitch-hack collar around his neck, and forthwith
ensued a fierce battle. The combatants rose to the clouds, and dropped to the earth, fighting; but at last the Hala'u was slain and decapitated.
The woman then commenced to wail inside the house, for there was only one bird left, viz., the Ha'tabat, who also had his hair combed, and went to
give battle to the Bald-headed Eagle. The contest was a furious one. The combatants flew up to the clouds several times, and back again. At last the
Bald-headed Eagle was slain, and the Ha'tabat took possession of the woman. Afterwards he went around and healed the wounds of the dead birds,
put their heads on their bodies, and they all came to life again, except the Bald-headed Eagle.
|Beaver and Muskrat
A Thompson Legend
Formerly the Muskrat had a broad tail like that of the beaver at the present day, while the beaver had a narrow tail, like that of the muskrat now.
One day Beaver asked the loan of Muskrat's tail to try it, and gave his own to Muskrat to try. Beaver found that Muskrat's tail was much better than
his own for swimming with, and thereafter kept it. He always avoided Muskrat, who was now unable to catch him. When they were transformed, it
was ordained that each should keep the tail he had. The Transformer said that Beaver had more need of the large tail than Muskrat.
A Thompson & Tlingit Legend
God came down to the Earth, and found it was very dirty, and full of bad things, bad people, mysteries, and cannibals. He thought he would make a
flood to clean the Earth, and drown all the bad people and monsters.
The flood covered the tops of the mountains; and all the people were drowned, except one man and his two daughters, who escaped in a canoe. When
the water receded, they came ashore and found that the Earth was clean. They were starving, and looked for food, but nothing edible could they see.
No plants grew near by, only some trees of several varieties.
They crushed a piece of fir with stones, and soaked it in water. They tried to eat it, and to drink the decoction; but it was too nasty, and they threw it
away. Thus they tried pine, alder, and other woods, and at last they tried service-berry wood, which tasted much better. The women drank the
decoction, and found that it made them tipsy. They gave some to their father, and he became quite drunk. Now they thought to themselves, "How is
the Earth to be peopled!"
And they each had connection with their father without his knowing it. As the water receded, they became able to get more and more food; but they
still continued to drink the service-berry decoction, and as their father was fond of it, they frequently made him drunk, and had connection with him.
Thus they bore many children and their father wondered how they became pregnant.
These children, when they grew up, married one another, and thus was the Earth re-peopled. The animals and birds also became numerous again.
|The Bag of winds
A Thompson Legend
Long ago the Wind did much damage, blowing violently over the country of the Indian. Moreover, it often killed many people and destroyed much
property. At that time there was a man who lived near Spence's Bridge, who had three sons.
The youngest was very ambitious, and fond of trying to do wonderful things. One day he said to his father and brothers, "I will snare the Wind," but
they laughed at him, saying, "How can you do that? The Wind is unseen." However, he went out and set a snare.
He did not succeed for several nights, as his noose was too large. He made it smaller every night, and, on visiting his snare one morning, found he
had caught the Wind. After great difficulty, he succeeded at last in getting it into his blanket, and made for home with it, where he put it down. He told
his people that he had at last captured the Wind.
They laughed at him. Then, to verify his statements, he opened one corner of the blanket, and immediately it began to blow fiercely, and the lodge
itself was almost blown over.
The people cried to him to stay the force of the Wind, which he did by again tying up the corner of the blanket. At last, he released the Wind on the
condition that he would never blow strongly enough to hurt people in the Indian country again, which promise he has kept.
|The Youth Who Joined The Deer
A Thompson Legend
There was a man who was a great deer hunter. He was constantly hunting, and was very successful. He thought continually of the deer, and
dreamed of them. They were as friends to him. Probably they were his manitou. He had two wives, one of whom had borne him no children, while
the other one had borne a male child.
One day while hunting, he came on the fresh tracks of a doe and fawn, which he followed. They led to a knoll on which he saw a young woman and
child sitting. The tracks led directly to them. He was surprised, and asked the woman if she had seen any deer pass. She answered, "No." He walked
on, but could not find the tracks. On his return, he said to the woman, "You must have seen the deer; the tracks seem to disappear where you are, and
they are very fresh." The woman laughed, and said, "You need not trouble yourself about the tracks. For a long time I have loved you and longed for
you. Now you shall go with me to my house." They walked on together, and the hunter could not resist the attraction of the woman, nor help
following her. As he went along, he thought, "It is not well that I am acting thus. My wives and my child are at home awaiting me." The woman
knew his thoughts at once, and said, "You must not worry or think that you are doing wrong. You shall be my husband, and you will never regret it."
After the two had traveled a long way, they reached a hilly country. Then the man saw an entrance which seemed to lead underground. When they
had gone some distance underground, they found themselves in a large house full of people who were just like Indians. They were of both sexes and all
ages. They were dressed in clothes of dressed skin, and wore deer-skin robes. They seemed to be very amiable and happy. As the travelers entered,
some of the people said, "Our daughter has brought her husband." That night the woman said to the hunter, "You are my husband, and will sleep with
me. You may embrace me, but you must not try to have intercourse with me. You must not do so before the rutting-season. Then you may also go
with my sisters. Our season comes but once a year, and lasts about a month. During the rest of the year we have no sexual connections." The hunter
slept with his new wife.
On the following day the people said, "Let our son-in-law hunt. He is a great hunter. Let him get meat for us. We have no more meat." The hunter
took his bow and arrows and went hunting. Two young deer, his brothers-in-law, ran ahead and stood on a knoll. Presently the hunter saw them,
and killed both of them. He cut them up and carried them home, leaving nothing but their manure. The chief had told him in the morning to be careful
and not to throw away any part of the game.
Now the people ate and were glad. They saved all the bones and put them away in one place. They said to the hunter, "We always save every bone."
When the deer were eaten, the bones were wrapped in bundles, and the chief sent a man to throw them into the water. He carried the bones of the two
deer that the hunter had killed, and of another one that the people were eating when the hunter first arrived. The hunter had missed his two
brothers-in-law, and thought they were away hunting. When the man who had carried the bones away returned, the two brothers-in-law and
another man were with him. They had all come to life when their bones were thrown into the water. Thus these Deer people lived by hunting and
killing each other and then reviving. The hunter lived with his wife and her people, and hunted whenever meat was required. He never failed to kill
deer, for some of the young deer were always anxious to be killed for the benefit of the people.
At last the rutting-season came on, and the chief put the body of a large old buck on the hunter, and so transformed him into a buck. He went out with
his wife and felt very happy. Some other young bucks came and beat him off and took his wife. He did not like others to have his wife; therefore he
went home and felt downcast. That night the people said, "What is the matter with our son-in-law, that he does not speak?" Some one said, "He is
downcast because a young man took his wife." The chief said, "Do not feel sad. We shall give you ornaments tomorrow which will make you strong,
and then nobody can take your wife away from you." On the following morning he put large antlers on him, and gave him the body of a buck in its
prime. That day the hunter beat off all the rival bucks, and kept his wife and also all her sister and cousins for himself. He hurt many of his
brothers-in-law in fighting. The Deer people had shamans who healed the wounds of those hurt in battle, and they were busy throughout the
In this way they acted until the end of the rut, and the hunter was the champion during the whole season. In due time his wife gave birth to a son.
When the latter was growing up, she said, "It is not fair to your people that you live entirely with my people. We should live with them for a while."
She reduced a large quantity of deer-fat to the size of a handful. She did the same with a large quantity of dried venison, deer-skins, and dressed
Now she started with her child and her husband, who hunted on the way, and killed one of his brothers-in-law whenever they required food. He put
the bones into the water, and they were revived. They traveled along as people do; but the woman thought this too slow; therefore they transformed
themselves into deer. Now they went fast, and soon reached the country where her husband's people lived. She said to her husband, "Do not approach
the people at once, or you will die. For eight days you must prepare yourself by washing in a decoction of herbs."
Presently they saw a young woman some distance away from the lodges. The hunter recognized her as his sister, showed himself, and called, "O
sister! I have come back, but no one must come near me for eight days. After that I shall visit you; but you must clean your houses, so that there may
be in them nothing old and no bad smell." The people thought him dead, and his childless wife had married again. After the hunter had become like
other people, he entered his lodge with his new wife and his son. His wife pulled out the deer-fat from under her arm, and threw it down on long
feast-mats that had been spread out by the people. It assumed its proper dimensions and covered all the mats. She did the same with the dried meat
and the deer-skins, which almost filled a lodge. Now the people had a feast, and felt happy and pleased. The hunter staid with his people for a
considerable time. Whenever they wanted fresh meat, he gave his bow and arrows to his son and told him to hunt. The youth always took with him
his half-brother, the son of his father by his Indian wife. They killed deer, for the deer were the boy's relatives and were willing to be killed. They threw
the bones into the water, and the deer came back to life. The Deer-Boy taught his half-brother how to hunt and shoot deer, how to hold his bow and
arrows so that he would not miss, how to cut up and preserve the meat; and he admonished him always to throw the bones into the water, so that the
deer might revive.
Finally the Deer-Woman said to her husband, "We have been here now for a long time. Let us return to my people." She invited the people to
accompany them, but they said they had not a sufficient number of moccasins to undertake the long journey. The woman then pulled out a parcel of
dressed skins, threw it on the ground, and it became a heap of fine skins for shoes. All the women worked night and day making moccasins, and soon
they were ready to start. The first day of the journey the hunter said to his wife, "Let us send our son out, and I will shoot him." He hunted, and
brought home a young deer, which the people ate. They missed the Deer-Boy, and wondered where he had gone. At night the hunter threw the bones
into the water, and the boy came to life. On the next day the hunter's wife went out, and he killed her and fed the people. They missed her, and
wondered where she had gone. At night he threw the bones into the water, and she came to life. She told her husband it would be better not to continue
to do this, because the people were becoming suspicious and would soon discover what they were doing. She said, "After this kill your
brothers-in-law." The people traveled slowly, for there were many, and the hunter killed deer for them every day.
After many days they reached the Deer people's house. They were well received. After a time they made up their minds to return; and the Deer-Boy
said he would return with his half-brother's people, and hunt for them on the way, so that they might not starve. He accompanied them to their
country, and never returned. He became an Indian and a great hunter. From him the people learned how to treat deer. He said to them, "When you
kill deer, always see to it that the bones are not lost. Throw them into the water. Then the deer will come to life. A hunter who does this pleases the
deer. They have affection for him, are not afraid of him, and do not keep out of his way, for they know that they will return to life whenever they give
themselves into his power. The deer will always remain plentiful, because they are not really killed. If it is impossible to throw the bones into water,
then burn them. Then the deer will really die, but they will not find fault with you. If a man throws deer-bones about, and takes no care of them, if he
lets the dogs eat them, and people step on them, then the deer will be offended and will help him no more. They will withhold themselves, and the
hunter will have no luck in hunting. He will become poor and starve." The hunter never returned to the people. He became a deer.