Sacred Texts  Native American  Northwest  Index  Previous  Next 


All the people in a village called Tâ'sna, "just south of the mouth of the Yukon," once died of smallpox with the exception of one woman and her son. The boy was just old enough to realize what had happened. His mother kept weeping day after day, and it so distressed her son that he went off hunting with bow and arrows and did not return until he thought she was through.

One day he went farther than he realized and on turning about was puzzled to know where the village lay. He walked for a long time in different directions trying to find it but in vain. He was lost and had to camp that night. Next morning he began looking again, and he looked all day with no better success. On the third morning, after he had looked about until he was very tired, he caught sight of water through the trees and, thinking it was the ocean, ran quickly toward it. When he came up to it, however, he found it was only a lake. He remained there for some time, living on roots, and afterward continued his journey. Again he traveled all day and on the following morning he again saw water through the woods. Now he felt happy once more, but when he came down to it and looked around, lo! it was the same lake he had left.

By this time the boy was too tired to walk any more, so he thought, "Well! I might as well stay right here." He covered himself up with moss and went to sleep. Suddenly, however, he was awakened by a voice saying, "Who is this boy?" He looked around but saw no one. He was entirely alone. Then he fell asleep again, and again something said, "Who is this boy?" He thought that he was dreaming, for, when he looked around, he saw only a black duck far out on the water.

After this the boy said to himself, "Now I am going to sit up and watch." So he seated himself against a large bush and, although he became so sleepy there that his eyes kept closing, he would open them resolutely and keep on the watch. Finally he got up and went behind the bush. While his eyes were closed, the boy heard the same voice again, but he was not quite asleep, so he opened them quickly and saw the black duck (gâxu) on the beach. Immediately it turned into a man, who stood looking at him. "What are you doing here?" said the man. Then the boy told him how he had gotten lost. "All of our village people died, and my mother cried so that I wanted to

p. 209

get away from her, so I traveled in the woods alone and became lost. Since that day I have not been home to see my mother." Then the man took off his coat, gave it to the boy, and said, "Put on this coat. As soon as you have done so, stretch out your arms and keep going like that. Don't think of me and don't think of this lake. Think of your uncle's house."

The boy did as he had been told, and it seemed to him that he was flying along very rapidly far above the trees. For a long time he thought of nothing else than his uncle's house and his uncle's village, but at length he remembered the lake and lo! he was there once more with the man standing before him in the same place. Then the man said, "Didn't I tell you not to think of me or the lake? Start over again. Think of nothing but your uncle's house and the village you are bound for." So this time the boy tried very hard, and all at once he came out back of his uncle's house, where his mother was waiting and calling for him. When she recognized him she was very happy.

Next: 56. The Boy who Shot the Star