Alaskool -- Online resources about Alaska Native History, Education, Language, and Culture
Tsimshian Texts by Franz Boas, 1902 Page 1 of 1
Told By Moody
When a sorcerer wants to kill a fellow man, he takes some of the man’s perspiration, or an old shirt, and takes it to the place where he keeps his witch-box. Then he opens his box, takes a string, and fastens a piece of the old shirt to it. He ties it across the box. When he wants the man to die quickly, he takes a piece of the old shirt, and cuts the string in the box so that the piece of shirt falls on the corpse that is in the box. As soon as this is done, and the string breaks, he pretends to cry for his victim; then the man from whom he has taken the piece of shirt must die. When he knows that the person is dead, he goes around the house in which the bewitched dead person is lying. After he has finished going around the house, he stops for a while; and when the dead one is buried, he goes to his grave and walks around it. Then he sits down in the grave and rubs his body, pretending to cry all the time. Then he returns, and his work is finished.
It is said that there was a son of a chief who had a friend who was also a prince. The chief was jealous of this prince, and he made up his mind to bewitch him. The chief told his son to invite his friend and to ask him to sleep in his house.
One day the chief’s son invited his friend in, and they lay down. The prince lay on the outside and the chief’s son on the inside of the bed. The chief’s son fell asleep, but the prince could not sleep, because he was afraid the chief might bewitch him. He rose and changed places with the chief’s son. He lay down on the inside and put the chief’s son on the outside. When the chief heard that they were asleep, he rose and slowly walked to the bed on which the prince and his son were sleeping. The prince was much afraid when he heard the chief coming, but he pretended to sleep. The chief felt about with his hands until he found the place where the prince had lain down in the evening. Then he wiped out the mouth of his own son (thinking him to be the prince). Then the chief lay down again.
In the morning the prince rose and went out. After a short time the chief’s son got sick. Then the chief knew at once that he had made a mistake. For four days the boy was sick. Then he died. Now the chief was much troubled. He cried because his son was dead, saying, “I have destroyed him myself! I have destroyed him myself!”