Tradition of the Koskimo.
(Recorded by George Hunt.)
The ancestors of the Koskimo lived at Cut-Beach, and they had for their chief Leader, and Leader had for his wife Sitting-in-Canoe, the princess of Going-Straight-on, the chief of the ancestors of the North people. Leader was always happy while he was hollowing out canoes. He was making a canoe, and he had not finished working on it when he went home. In vain his wife tried to feed him. He said that he was not hungry. He just lay down on his face. In the morning, when daylight came, he remained in the house in the same way. Then Sitting-in-Canoe tried to give him some breakfast, but he only said that he was not hungry. For four days he staid thus in the house. Then the tribe began to talk about what he was doing in the house.
Therefore his tribe called every one to go into his house. They tried to discover why their chief was sitting in the house in this way, but Leader never noticed those who had him for their chief. Therefore those who had him for their chief guessed that he did not feel right. Then one among the wise men spoke, and said, "O chief!
go on, and you shall see (the world) when we look all round our world for a wife for you, chief." Thus he said.
Immediately Leader answered him, and said, "O tribe! that is what I wished for, that you should talk about, for I wish that you go and woo the princesses of the chiefs on both sides of this our tribe, that we may add to our crests." Thus he said. Immediately many of the Koskimo who are now dead got ready. They lifted their canoes from the beach, and burned the bottoms; and as soon as the bottoms of the canoes were burned, they launched them. Then they went towards Wind Island. There Leader wooed Copper-Box-Woman, the princess of Property, chief of the Tribe-staying-in-the-Right-Place.
As soon as they arrived at Wind Island, the wise men sang the wooing-songs; and after they had done so, they paddled, and stopped in front of the village. There they sang some more songs, and then Leader married Copper-Box-Woman. Then he obtained a (new) name, and also masks. Then they started again.
They came to the south side of Crossing-Point, and arrived at Red-Sand-Beach. That was the village of the ancestors of the Ocean people, and their chief was Getting-Rich; and Leader said that he did not wish to go ashore at that place. The sand on the beach of the village of Getting-Rich called Leader ashore to go and woo the princess of Getting-Rich; but Leader did not wish to go ashore at Red-Sand-Beach. Leader went past, and went
to Open-Bay, the village of the ancestors of the Nâ'k!wax*da?xu. Their chief was Potlatch- Dancer, and the princess of Potlatch-Dancer was Cloud-making-Woman. She was wanted by Leader for his wife. As soon as Leader and his other canoes came in sight at the point of Open-Bay, the ancestors of the Koskimo began to sing their wooing-songs. This is the way the ancestors of the Koskimo did when they went wooing.
As soon as they arrived at the beach of the village, an attendant of Leader began to speak, and woo the princess of Potlatch-Dancer. Then he--namely, Leader--also got a (new) name. Then he had the name Potlatch-Dancer, and he also obtained the feast-dishes. For four days he staid at Open-Bay. Then he got ready and started.
Now they were going to the Northern people, who lived at Whale-Beach. They had for their chief Great-River; and he had a princess whose name was Potlatch-giving-Woman; and she was obtained in marriage [wooed] by Leader, for how could anything be ineffective that the ancestors said? Then Leader obtained the princess of Great-River; and Leader had the name Great-River, and he obtained in marriage this name, and he obtained the cannibal dance, and he had the cannibal name Pushing-down-the-Throat; and his cannibal's assistant had the name Pressing-down, and he obtained the feast-dish representing the seal, the killer-whale, the wolf, and the double-headed serpent.
After they had staid four days, the ancestors of the Koskimo got ready and launched their canoes, and were going to the Back tribe. Leader had been told by the North people that the Back tribe had for their chief
[paragraph continues] Death-Owner, and that he had had for his princess Warrior Woman; and therefore Leader asked his tribe to go to Grass Island, for that was the village of the ancestors of the Back tribe. The ancestors of the Koskimo desired (to obtain) the names of the chief of the tribes, therefore they went right to Having-a-River. As soon as they arrived at the upper end of Having-a-River, they saw the houses of the ancestors of the Back tribe at Grass Island. Immediately the ancestors of the Koskimo began to sing their wooing-songs. Then they arrived at the beach of the houses. Immediately an attendant of Leader arose in the canoe and began to speak, and he wooed the princess of Death-Owner. Death-Owner at once consented. Then Leader presented him with his canoe, and with (the gift of) another canoe he called 1 Warrior-Woman, the princess of Death-Owner. As soon as the attendant of Leader stopped speaking, the attendant of Death-Owner came and stood in front of the house of Death-Owner. He spoke, and said, "O chief! just take care, for Rising-Woman,--namely, Warrior-Woman,--the princess of this Death-Owner, is constantly rising (in rank)."
Immediately Leader picked out some of the best men among his tribe, although they were chiefs of the ancestors of the Koskimo, to lift Warrior-Woman from the floor of the house. Then she had the name Rising-Woman. As soon as the chiefs of the Koskimo had gone to lift her, Rising-Woman was carried out of the house of her father, sitting on a board. She was taken aboard the canoe of
[paragraph continues] Leader; and the covered box was also taken aboard the canoe. In it were all the masks and all the names. As soon as Rising-Woman and her property were all aboard the canoe, Leader went on paddling.
He was going on to Hê'gEms, the village of the ancestors of the Gwâ'waênoxu; and the chief of the Gwâ'waênoxu was Place-of-obtaining-Coppers, and he had for his princess Warrior-Woman. As soon as they arrived at the point of Hê'gEms, the ancestors of the Koskimo began to sing their wooing-songs and when they arrived at the beach of the house of Place-of-obtaining-Coppers, the Koskimo stopped singing. Then one of the attendants of Chief Leader arose, and began to speak in the way in which the attendants speak when they praise the one from whom they want to get a wife. As soon as he stopped speaking, Place-of-obtaining-Coppers came out of the house and thanked him for his words. Then he called Chief Leader to come out of the canoe, and Place-of obtaining-Coppers called Leader his son-in-law. Then he called him out of the canoe to go and warm himself in his house; and in this way Leader had Warrior-Woman for his wife. Then the Koskimo unloaded their canoe, and Place-of-obtaining-Coppers fed his son-in-law, and he gave his name to Leader; and thus Leader had the name Place-of-obtaining-Coppers, and he also had the winter dance implements and the names.
He staid there for four days, and then Leader got ready and started. He was going to Nô'xudEm, the village of
the Ma'malêleqa. Their chief was Paddled-to, and the princess of Paddled-to had the name Mâ'laqêlayugwa. Immediately Leader said that he would go to Nô'xudEm, for he wanted to woo the princess of Paddled-to. Then he turned the bow of his canoe towards Nô'xudEm. They arrived at the passage of Nô'xudEm, and again the Koskimo sang their wooing-songs They only stopped when they were in front of the beach of the village of the ancestors of the Ma'malêleqa. Then one of the attendants of Leader arose in the canoe, and he began to speak in the way in which the Koskimo speak when they go a-wooing, and he praised Paddled-to. Paddled-to just came out and stood in front of his house, and called them to come up from the beach, and to warm themselves in his house; and he named Leader Son-in-Law, for he was really thankful for what Leader had said to his princess. Immediately the Koskimo unloaded their cargo. As soon as all the cargo was unloaded, they were fed. Then Mâ'laqêlayugwa was called to come and sit down with Leader in the rear of the house of her father; and then they shouted that the princess had Leader for her husband. He was given as marriage presents the house and the dances and the names.
After they had staid for four days at Nô'xudEm, they got ready and went home. Immediately they made a new house to invite in the ancestors of the North tribe, of the Ocean tribe, and of the Divided tribe. They were invited by Leader. Then he showed the winter-dance
implements and his names. In this way he came to be the only real chief among the ancestors of the Koskimo.
Then he had children from his wives the princesses of the chiefs of the tribes. Therefore all the tribes have some Koskimo among them, because Leader had gone and done this way in his house; namely, when he lay down on his back, trying to make the canoe, in the beginning of this tradition; and that is what he thought about in the house, to woo these princesses all around our world, and thus he obtained his wish. That is the end.
303:1 See F. Boas, Social Organization and Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians. Annual Report of the U. S. National Museum for 18951 p. 361.