Alaskool -- Online resources about Alaska Native History, Education, Language, and Culture
Tsimshian Texts by Franz Boas, 1902
Page 1 of 1

*K' eLKu

Told By Moses

A number of children played camping every day. Many played this game in one large hollow long. They went into it and played that it was their house. They made a fire in it and ate there. They took a large quantity of provisions into the log. They ate salmon. They did so every day. One day when they were playing camping, the tide rose high and the large tree floated out to sea. The children did not know it. They were playing inside. Now the log had drifted far out to sea. Then on e child went out, and he saw that the log had drifted away. Then all the children went out, and they cried. The log was drifting about in the ocean.

One of the children was wise. He saw gulls flying about, and then he returned into the hollow log and said, "Gulls are always sitting on top of us. What can we do to catch them?" Then one boy said, "Let us hit our noses, and we will rub the blood all over the log, then the feet of the gulls will stick to the log." They did so. They hit their noses until they bled. Then they rubbed the blood on the log. Then they entered the log again. Now many gulls came and sat down on the log. About noon their feet dried to the log. Then one of the boys went out. The gulls tried to fly away, but they could not do so because their feet were glued to the log. Then the boy took hold of them and twisted off their necks. He killed many gulls and took them into the log. Then the boys were glad. They ate the meat of the gulls and forgot that they were drifting about on the ocean.

The land was far away. They were on the edge of the ocean. One day they heard a great noise. The boys went out and, behold, they were drifting round in a whirlpool. Then they began to cry. The tree almost stood on its end, because the whirlpool was swallowing it.

While it was drifting there on end a man ran out to it. He had only one leg. He harpooned the great log and pulled it ashore. He hauled it ashore. The boys were not dead. He had saved them. Then the boys went up to the house of the man. There were many boys. One-leg gave them to eat. The beach in front of the house smelled of seal. The man was spearing seals all the time at the edge of the whirlpool. He watched for seals, and therefore he stayed there. There was also another man living there whose name was Hard-instep. He was much troubled, for he was jealous because One-leg had saved the boys. One-leg was spearing seals all the time, and he carried them up for the children. They ate, and they grew up to be young men.

After a while the children remembered those who they had left behind, and they began to cry. Then One-leg asked the children why they cried, and they told him. Then he said, "The town of your fathers is not far. It is over there. To-morrow morning you shall start. You may use my canoe, which is at the end of the village." Early the next morning One-leg sent the boys, saying, "Take the cover off from my canoe. It is near by yonder." The children went, and grew tired walking about. They could not find the canoe. Finally they returned. Then One-leg asked, "Did you find it?" The boys said, "No." He sent them again, and they went; but again they grew tired walking about, but they did not find it. Again they returned. Then One-leg himself went. He went to a rotten tree that was there. It was covered with small branches. He took off the branches and they beheld a large canoe. It was made in the shape of a man, with a mouth at one end. It was the same at the other end. Its name was "WsE-at-each-end." It did not allow anything to cross its bow or its stern. When a man crossed it, it ate him. Then One-leg said, "Don't pass in front of the canoe." And they obeyed because they were afraid. Then they put it into the water. It was a fine, large canoe. They put many seals aboard, which were to serve as food for the canoe. They the boys went aboard. They fed the canoe. Its bow and its stern ate five seals each. Then the canoe went. After it had finished eating the seals it went very fast. Then they gave five seals more to the bow and five to the stern, and it went on again.

Finally the children landed at the town of their fathers. They went ashore. Their fathers and mothers and all their relatives were crying. Then the boys came back. That is the end.

*Note: the title contains a bar above the letter "e." Boas' alphabet chart denotes this sound as "obscure e in flower." Refer to Boas' alphabet for more sound pronunciations of special characters.