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48. Wâ'walê. 1

Tradition of the Kwâ'g*ul.

Wâ'walê was a harpooneer who lived at Crooked-Beach (Qâ'logwîs).... His son's name was Gâ'dzêdalal. (The beginning of his story is as usual. He is a successful harpooneer, aid he kills seals very quickly. One day he cooks seals' heads for his boy and goes home. When it is evening, he arrives home, and finds the chief of Crooked-Beach with his wife. He sits down on a box

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outside of his room and scratches the walls. The woman thinks it is a mouse, and says, "I wish you would gnaw Wâ'walê's face!" Then they go to sleep. When they are sound asleep, Wâ'walê cuts off the head of the chief, which he takes along. The woman's child awakes, and she discovers that the chief has been killed. She tells the people who inquire why the child cries, that he has soiled his bed. She takes her child to his grandmother, rolls up the body in a mat, and buries it at the place behind the houses where the children used to play throwing spears.)

In the morning the children began to play. While they were throwing their spears, they would sometimes hear a peculiar noise when their spear struck the ground. As a matter of fact, the spear would strike the body of the dead chief, and as soon as they pulled it out, they discovered that there was blood or it. The children got frightened, went down to the beach, and told what had happened. Then the people dug up the place and found the body. They searched for the head, but they could not find it; and they did not know who the man was, although they thought that it must be their chief. They asked his wife whether he had been at home during the night, and she said that he had been away. Then they asked Wâ'walê's wife; and she said, "I have not seen the chief." She pretended not to know what had happened.

Soon Wâ'walê appeared at the point of land. They said, "Don't lift your paddles! Nobody knows who has killed our chief." Then he lifted his paddles. Then they said the same again, and he lifted his paddles again. Then they suspected that he might have killed him, because he raised his paddles. They said, "You raise your paddles, although our chief is dead." And he raised them once more.

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He went to his house, and his little boy was crying because he wanted his meal. The boy ate the seal-meat that his father used to bring him. Then he told his wife to bring the meat that he had boiled, and that was in his bag. She took it out, and asked, "Is this it?"--"No," he said, "it is down below." She pulled out another piece, and said, "Is this it?" He said, "It is down below." And right at the bottom of the bag she found the head of the chief. Then she screamed. He jumped up, pushed her down on the head, and said, "Is that the reason of your crying? Were you afraid of it before?" With that he cut off her head, and then he hung up both heads over the fire.

Night came, and a woman entered to get some fire. She carried some pitch-wood, which she lighted in the fire. Just then a drop of blood fell down upon her hand. For the moment she did not think what it might be; but when she went out, and when she saw the blood, she wanted to know where it came from. She dropped her torch, so that it was extinguished, and she went back. She pretended that the wind had blown it out. Then she saw that blood was dripping from over the fire, and she discovered the two heads. She went out again, and told the people that two heads were there. Then all the people arose to fight with Wâ'walê. He, however, pushed his house, with the ground on which it stood, out to sea; and it became the island Mâ'lmä, in front of Crooked-Beach. He himself and his parents were killed on this island; but his four sons fled, jumping from one island to another, and finally reached the woods.

The four boys were fleeing through the woods. Finally the youngest one said, "Stop! I hear the sound of chiselling." His older brothers said, "Don't be foolish! Where should that noise come from?" And they went on. Then the

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youngest one said again, I tell you, somebody is chiselling here. I hear it again." They listened, and then they all heard it. They went in the direction of the sound, and

came nearer. Then they saw a large woman, the Dzô'nôq!wa, making a canoe. Her breasts were so large that they hung down to the ground. She sat inside, using her adze. The young man said, "What shall we do?" And one of them remarked, "We will not be in a hurry. Let us send our youngest brother to pinch her baby." The child was in a cradle which stood not far from her. The youngest brother went up quietly and pinched the child, so that it began to cry. Then the Dzô'nôq!wa said, "Don't do that to my child! It never cries." After some time he pinched the child again, and this was repeated four times. Then the Dzô'nôq!wa gave them the canoe, and said, "I think you do this that I shall give you this canoe that I am making. I am making it for you. Now you have me for your supernatural power. I know everything about you. I know what has happened, and therefore I give you this canoe." And she also gave them the water of life and the death-bringer. She told the brothers, "You do not need to paddle this canoe; just slap its sides, and it will go by itself."

They launched the canoe. They were going to take revenge for the death of their father. The eldest one said, "What shall we do to tease our people? I think we will transform wood into young birds (gogonâ'p), so that they may come to take them. The birds shall belong to our youngest brother." Then they went right on to Crooked-Beach. They took many pieces of rotten wood, threw them into the water, and transformed them into young sawbill ducks. The youngest brother also was transformed into a sawbill duck. When the people saw them, they went to get the birds. When they came near,

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they thought that the eyes of one of the ducks looked like those of the youngest son of Wâ'walê. Then the brothers transformed the people into birds, and they had to remain birds. Those who had remained on shore were killed by the death-bringer. Only those whom they liked they revived and took them as slaves; and the eldest one resuscitated his parents and his grandparents.


487:1 See also F. Boas, Indianische Sagen, etc., pp. 162, 234, 257.

Next: 49. Additions to the Myth of Kwêkwaxâ'wê?