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p. 28

5. KAKA' a

When KAka' was taken south, either to Cape Ommaney or farther, a woman came to him and said, "I am in the same fix as you. We are both saved b by the land otters." That is how he found out what had happened to him. The woman also said, "I am your friend, and I have two land-otter husbands who will take you to your home." Then she called him to her and began to look over his hair. Finally she said, "Your wife has put the sinew from a land-otter's tail through your ear. That is what has caused you to become a land otter."

Then they took down what looked to him like a canoe, but really it was a skate. The skate is the land-otter's canoe. When they set out, they put him into the canoe, laid a woven mat over him and said, "You must not look up again." He did look up, however, after a time and found himself tangled among the kelp stems. These land otters were going to become his spirits.

On their journey they started to cross a bay called Kên to an island called Têlnu', and, as daylight was coming on, they began to be afraid that the raven would call and kill them before they reached the other side. It was almost daylight when they came to land, so they ran off at once among the bushes and rocks, leaving KAka' to pull up the canoe. This was hard work, and while he was at it the skin was all worn from his lower arm, so he knew that it was a skate.

Some people traveling in a canoe saw his shadow there and tried hard to make him out clearly, but in vain. They did not want to have him turn into a land otter, so they said, "KAka', you have already turned into a ground hog."

By and by one of his friends heard him singing in the midst of a thick fog at a place near the southern end of Baranoff island on the outside. Each time he ended his song with the words, "Let the log drift landward with me." Then it would drift shoreward with him. Meanwhile he was lying on the log head down with blood running out of his nose and mouth and all kinds of sea birds were feeding on him. It was his spirits that made him that way. The real land otters had left him, but they had come to him again as spirits.

Now the people sang a song on shore that could be heard where KAka! was floating, but, although they heard the noise of a shaman's beating sticks, they could not get at him. Then the friend who had first found him went ashore and fasted two days, after which he went out and saw KAka' lying on his back on the log. He was as well as when he had left Sitka. Then his friend brought him ashore, but the land-otter spirits remained with him, and he became a great shaman.


28:a See story 31, pp. 87-88.

28:b So interpreters persist in speaking of the capture of a human being by anthropomorphic animals or other supernatural beings.

Next: 6. The Land-Otter Sister