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p. 170


The head chief of the people living at the head of Nass river once came down to the ocean and on his way back tied. his canoe to a dead tree hanging from a cliff. At midnight he felt the canoe shaking very hard. He jumped up and was terrified to see foam breaking almost over his canoe. Then he thought of a sea monster, and climbed up to the cliff by means of the dead tree. His nephews, however, went down with the canoe. A GonaqAdê't had swallowed them.

Along with this canoe had come down another, which stopped for the night at a sandy beach right opposite. They had seen the chief's canoe there the night before, and, observing next morning that it was gone, supposed the chief had started on ahead and continued their journey. They had also felt the motion of the sea, although it was previously very calm. When they reached home the canoe chief asked whether the head chief had returned, and they said, "No." Then he told them how strangely the sea had acted and how he missed the chief's canoe and thought that it had gone on ahead.

After he had remained in the village for five days the canoe chief began to think seriously about the chief's absence. Then he got into a large canoe along with very many people and set out to look for him. Four men stood up in the canoe continually, one at the bow, one at the stern, and two in the middle, looking always for the chief from the time that they left their village. They camped very early that night and arrived next morning at the dead tree where the chief's canoe had been tied. As they passed this place they hoard somebody shout, and the man in the stern, looking up, saw the missing chief standing on the very top of the cliff. They saw also signs of the GonaqAdê't and knew what had happened. Then they took him in, but he would say nothing until they had gotten back to the village. There he spoke, saying, "I did not have time to awaken my sisters' children. I could not have saved myself if I had done so. That is why they are gone." He felt badly about them.

Then all the people in the village began bathing for strength, sitting in the water and whipping each other, so that they might kill the monster. The chief, however, was very quiet, and, when they asked him what they should do, he told them to do as they pleased. They were surprised at this. When he saw that they really meant business he was very silent, and they could see that he was thinking deeply. Finally he said, "Boys, you better not punish yourselves so much. You are injuring yourselves, and you are all that I have left now. Let us treat this monster kindly. Instead of having destroyed my sisters' children, he may have taken them to live with him, and, if we were to kill him, we might kill my sisters' children as well. Instead

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[paragraph continues] I will give a feast and invite this GonaqAdê't to it." They all told him to do so if he thought he could get his nephews back thereby.

Then they talked this whole matter over in the chief's house, and the chief said, "Who will go to invite this GonaqAdê't?" And many of the brave young men answered, "I will; I will," so that he got a canoe load very quickly. After that the chief said, "Which one of my brothers-in-law will go to invite him?" "I will," answered one of them who was also brave. Then all got into the canoe, traveled that night and encamped just before dawn on a sandy beach close to the GonaqAdê't's cliff. About noon they put on their best dancing clothes and paddled to the cliff. Then the chief's brother-in-law arose in the canoe and shouted out as loudly as he could, "The great chief has invited the GonaqAdê't to a feast." He repeated these words four times, and the fourth time he did so the water began to act as on the night when the chief's nephews had been lost. The foam became very thick finally, and the cliff opened, revealing at some distance a very long town. They were invited to come nearer, and, although they thought that the cliff would close upon them, they did so. There were many men about this town, and out of one large house came the chief (the GonaqAdê't), who said, "Our song leader is out after wood. Therefore, my father's people, you will have to stay out there quite a while. We must wait for our song leader." Then the GonaqAdê't said, "A long time since I heard that I was going to be invited to a feast by that great chief." While he was so speaking there came people into the town with a load of wood, and they, knew that it was the song leader himself. The GonaqAdê't's people were now so impatient that all rushed down to the song leader's canoe and carried it up bodily. Then the streets became empty, because everyone had gone in to dress, and in a little while they came down on the beach again and danced for the people in the canoes.

As soon as this was over the visitors asked to come ashore, and immediately their canoe with everyone inside was carried up to the house of the chief. One of the visitors was sent to all the houses in the town to invite them to the chief's house, and there they gave them Indian tobacco and watched very closely to see what they would do with it. They seemed very fond of it.

After this tobacco feast was over the GonaqAdê't said, "Let us have a dance for these people who have come to invite us. Let us make them happy." They went away and dressed, and that evening they had a dance for their visitors. Then the GonaqAdê't said, "These people that come to invite me have to fast." a Early next morning, therefore, the GonaqAdê't sat up in bed and said to the people in the house, "Make a fire and let us feed these people who have

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come so far to invite me." He sent one of his men through the village to announce that he was going to have a feast for the people who had come after him. When this was over, he said to his visitors, "You will stay here with us for four days."

Many people had volunteered to go on this expedition, because they thought that if they were swallowed they would see those who had been lost before, and they looked for them all of that time, but in vain. At the close of the fourth day the GonaqAdê't said, "We will start off very early in the morning." When they got close to the host's village, however, it rained hard, and they thought they would not be able to dance in it. Seeing that it did not let up, they said to the GonaqAdê't, "Haven't you a shaman among you! Now is the time to get help from your shaman. He ought to make it stop raining." They employed him, and he made the rain stop by summoning his spirits. All this time the people who had invited the GonaqAdê't were very silent, and only he knew what was the matter with them. As they were now very close to the town, they sent one canoe thither to make it known that the GonaqAdê't's people were encamped close by, ready to come to the village. The chief told his people to get a quantity of wood and take it to those he had invited, because they were to stay there another day. All in the village were anxious to do this, because they thought that they would see the chief's nephews. As they went along they said to one another that they would look for the chief's eldest nephew, whom they expected to see dressed in his dancing clothes. But, when they arrived at the camp, they were disappointed.

Next morning all of the GonaqAdê't's people started for the village, and, when they arrived, they were asked to stop their canoes a few feet off so that the village people could dance for them. Then the village people came down close to their canoes and danced. Afterward the GonaqAdê't's people danced. The GonaqAdê't himself always led, wearing the same hat with jointed crown.

Next day the village people danced again, and, after they were through, the chief said that his guests would have to fast. So they fasted all that day, and very early in the morning the GonaqAdê't got up and told his people that they must sit up in bed and sing before the raven called. This they had to be very particular about. Then the village chief sent to the different houses to announce that the GonaqAdê't and his people were to eat, and he gave them food that day. They danced for three days and feasted for the same length of time. The fourth day the village chief invited the GonaqAdê't's people in order to give them property. He gave more to the GonaqAdê't than to all the rest. That was his last feast. The evening he finished it he felt sad, and he and all of his people were very quiet because they had not yet seen his nephews. He said to himself, "I

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wonder why this GonaqAdê't did not bring my sisters' children. That is just what I invited him to the feast for."

Soon after this thought had passed through the chief's mind the GonaqAdê't called loudly to one of his men, "Bring me my box from over yonder." This box was beautifully carved and painted, and it was from it that the Tsimshian came to know how to carve and paint boxes. Then he took out a chief's dancing hat with sea lion bristles and a rattle, and just as soon as he had done so the chief's eldest nephew stood beside him. He put the headdress upon him and gave him the rattle, and the GonaqAdê't's people sang songs for him. They sang four songs, and the GonaqAdê't said, "This hat, this rattle, and these songs are yours." The village chief was happy when he saw his nephew.

Then the GonaqAdê't went through the same actions as before. There had been twenty youths in the chief's large canoe, and he gave each a hat, a rattle, and four songs, making them all stand on one side of the house. Now the village chief felt very happy and was glad that he had invited the GonaqAdê't to him instead of doing as the village people had planned.

Next morning, when the GonaqAdê't was preparing to start, it was very foggy. He and his people left the village singing, and their canoes went along side by side until they passed out of sight in the fog. They returned to their own home.

It is from this story that people do not want to hear the raven before their guests get up. The chief's headdress with sea lion bristles also came from the GonaqAdê't, and so it happened that the Nass people wore it first.


171:a See Twenty-sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, p. 440.

Next: 35. Origin of the L!ê'nAxxî'dAq