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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


The Takelma Indians of Southwestern Oregon
First Page through Section II
Sections II through IV
Sections V through VI
This page, Sections VII through XI
Takelma Vocabulary


SECTION VII: CLOTHING, PERSONAL ADORNMENT, SHELLS/
[Page 77] Styles and materials in clothing worn by the Takelma seems to have been dictated by conditions of weather and available materials just as is the case with neighboring tribes or Karok, Hupa, Shastan, and Klamath.
In winter, men wore shirts and capes of deerskin, or fawnskin. The women and children dressed much the same, with softer materials and furs added to costumes also embellished with dyed skins of dangles (SP) and skirts and the like. Buckskin leggings or trousers and moccasins were worn, and belts were a popular item of dress. Women of more fortunate station wore buckskin skirts which extended to the knees, fringed with tassels made of white grass or balls of rabbit fur. Sometimes an apron was worn over this, attached at the waist by a thong or a belt, the apron being decorated with porcupine quills
[Page 78] worked in intricate pattern, with fur fringe and tassels at the edges.
Women wore basket-caps at any season although it was not a required item of dress. In winter, men wore hats of deer skin or small animal skins, and they responded to the arrival of spring by changing over to woven straw hats or basket-caps. Hats were not required by either men or women, but were left to individual tastes, however older women most often wore hats, while young women, children, and men most often did not.
Another head-dress was made of strips of buckskin to which were attached scalps of the the red-headed woodpecker for decorative purposes and to show the position of the wearer in the village. Other such bands were decorated with quills and shells and a miscellany of feathers. These bands were tied across the forehead and secured at the back of the head.
Women parted hair in the center and wore it hanging loosely or divided into two bunches and tied at either side, but it was not braided. Little girls could wear the top-knot or "ponytail" of the men, but at puberty this was denied them thereafter. Bangs at the front were common.
Medicine men had several styles peculiar to their position, one being similar to the women's hair style except that ties were made of otterskin strips (denied to women), woodpecker scalps, and many bright feathers hanging down as ornaments.
The tail feathers of the eagle and the yellow-hammer were worn by the goyo-shaman but never for any occasion except in the medicine dances. Ordinary "raw people," those not shamans, could also wear these items during ceremonial performances. The goya-shaman also was recognized by the wearing of a bun of hair on top of his head, and this was often combined with a ponytail emerging from the center of the bun. Such hairdress was a "topknot" and it was intended to resemble
[Page 80] the top-knot of certain birds thought to embody great Spirits.
This hair style was not limited to the goyo but was sometimes worn by the other men, and delicate nets were woven of grass to be secured over the topknot by attaching it tightly with bone hairpins. Into these knots and the nets were woven wild flowers, ferns, and feathers, for decorative purposes.
In summer, men wore only a loin cloth of matting or of skins, either in natural colors or dyed and decorated. Women wore sleeveless basket-woven shirts with brush skirts very similar to those native to South Sea Islanders. Sometimes an apron was worn over this, and it was decorated with strings of dentalia, tassels, strips of plain or dyed furs, shells, and quills.
Strings of dentalia, which was a form of currency, were sometimes worn suspended from holes in the ear lobes, as earrings. On some occasions and with some people, bones were worn in the nose on
[Page 81] special occasions, but no lip labrets (SP?) were used by the Takelma. Paints of red, white, and black were used for facial painting on special occasions, the use of white being highly restricted for any purposes other than those approved of by the village council. In cases of war or revenge, white face paint and white paint upon the canoe was used profusely. The painting of the forehead seemed to give the wearer a source of strength and courage directly credited to the spiritual help of Grizzly Bear whose own face bore a blaze of white above the eyebrow.
Boys did not tattoo, but it was considered proper for girls to wear three downward stripes tattooed on the chin, one in the center and one from each corner of the mouth. Some variations were three stripes at each corner of the mouth in an arch downward to bottom of the chin. The arms of girls were usually tattooed in some way,
[Page 82] and girls with no tattoos were looked upon as "tomboys."
The tattooing of men seems to have been limited to a measure-mark on the left arm. It was told that in olden times, strings of dentalia were measured from shoulder to elbow, or half-way to elbow, but as men were of different sizes, such measures were not uniform, and it was decided to make a standard dentalia measurement to be tattooed on the left arm when men had reached maturity and ended their youthful grown process.
Dentalia "money" came by trade from northward, from a land, as the Indians believed, where sharp-mouthed persons sucked out the meat of the shells, cooking and eating it. Other shells were bought, found, or bartered for and used as currency as well as for decorations. The g'os, a large highly valued rainbow-colored shell [Probably abalone shell] was considered much money. There were
[Page 83] small snail shells in abundance and these were often used in decorating women's shirts and aprons. Another species of money was the ts!itgwix string, measured from finger tip to finger tip and made up of round, flat bone-like discs, and these were also often put around the necks and arms of the dead, to be buried (or burned) with them.
Blankets made by the Takelma were for purpose of utility, but a few were exceptionally beautiful. Finely shredded cedar bast was woven into a matting and laced through with strips of rabbit fur, mountain goat hair, the down of birds, the scalps of red-headed woodpeckers (the only bird killed), and thin strips of skins from small furry animals. J. O. Powell as well as many other writers have reported the blankets of the Takelma as ranging to the exotically beautiful.
There is no record, either vocal or in writings or inferred by legends of any head flattening practises among the Takelma. Rather, it appears
[Page 84] that any embellishments upon the body closely followed natural inclinations and consisted of games, contest, and exercises designed to so improve the body. Sapir mentioned having particularly asked a number of surviving Takelma concerning head flattening or other shaping process, and few replied in the negative, while others could not even understand what was meant, indicating they did not so practise nor were they acquainted with any tribes or people who did.
Among the Takelma, men did quite as much if not more of sewing as was done by the women. The Klamath Indians reported to many early historians that they knew the Takelma men to sew, and to weave cedar bast and fur into mittens for his entire family for winter wear.
Few duties were not performed by both sexes, not excluding exhaustive pursuits of hunting, canoe making, tree felling, and even house building. Selection of duties seemed to rest with the individual, and
[Page 85] the tendency seemed to be toward a habit of doing whatever fell to an individual when he saw clearly that such task was in need of being performed.
At the same time, the women were not socially oppressed nor elected to perform less desirable chores, but they seem to have shared equally with men in all things, and at times given deference to only because of their smaller size or other limiting factors.
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SECTION VIII: NUMERAL SYSTEM AND SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
[Page 87] 80. hatxindanixdtl
90. hatgo gadanixdtl
100. t!eimis
200. ga mun t!eimis
300 xin t!eimis
400. gamgamun t!eimis
500. dehaldan t!eimis
1000. ixidildan t!eimis2000 yap!amits!adan t!eimis
On the surface, this appears to be a regular decimal system, but on closer look and analysis of the words themselves, there is betrayed a quite simple basis.
Four is clearly nothing but "two two," and five is translated to mean "being in front." Six, seven, eight and nine are respectively equivalent to "one finger in," "two fingers in, "three fingers in," and "four fingers in." Ten translates to mean Spand waist line, or of one each of four legs or two each of legs of like size. Mrs. Johnson could not give details but she hinted to Sapir of a means of balance-weighing for fair division of game. Since certain animal parts were regarded as more beneficial, for religious reasons, one liver might equal one hind leg although the leg was twice the size and weight of the liver or other part in question.
The only true measure seems to have been the tattoo mark on the arm, the pay-stone of the shaman-goyo, and the fingers and toes upon one or more persons.
There are many varied reports concerning the social organizations of the Takelma, each coming from otherwise reliable sources, and all we can do is examine each and seek a center-of-the-road conclusion.
Sapir reported a very simple organization with the wealthier man of the village considered head of that village on basis of their belief that a wiser man thought ahead farther and was thus more abundantly
[Page 90] supplied by his own endeavors, against needs which would arise. In the case of battles, which were rare before the later encroachment of other tribes upon their lands, the bravest or strongest was chief, and at the end of such battles he was a sub-chief directly beneath the wealthier chief.
Marriage within the family even to cousins, was not permitted, and it was also forbidden that a man marry the sister of his brother's wife. If a man died, his brother was compelled to marry the widow no matter how many wives he may already have acquired by this practise. This clan system provided that descent was traced through the female parent except in rare cases where the female parent might have disgraced herself by breaking a tribal law, and in such case was put to death and forgotten, the children then "passing" to the father alone.
Children were named for events, characteristics, birth-marks, favorite animals, and the like. Some possessions were distributed
[Page 91] among all relations upon death, as well as were certain obligations. The practice of obtaining "blood money" was well developed, and renumeration for even slight injuries was common.
When a blow was received one kept a cool head and said "Ts!ulsu'si t!umuxda" meaning "give me dentalia for you have struck me." Such demands were legally justified and enforced by the presiding chief. In more serious feuds, the injured party had recourse to the services of a go-between (xa wisa) who, after much persuasion and many threats of vengeance, prevailed upon the offender to pay an indemnity and to cement a new friendship. All this was quite formal and precise, with the entire village as spectators.
In event a party had nothing valuable to give as "blood money," he must then offer his services to the injured or to the family of the injured for an agreeable length of time. The injured party was most often befriended by all and in particular by the shaman-goyo, since he had been unfairly treated, therefore, it was unwise to hesitate long in
[Page 92] bringing about a settlement, for not only the friends, but the goyo too, might take justice into their own hands.
Chiefs of several villages having much in common such as location, or hunting and fishing grounds, met frequently in council together. Of these, one was chosen to go forth and meet with other representatives from other such councils, thus the Takelma were independent, yet closely knit at the same time.
When a festival was due, the chiefs called area parleys well ahead of time, and runners were selected to go here and there, to carry and bring messages until it was agreed at what time and place the people would gather for such festival.
Almost as important as the chief and the goya, was Yiwiyawa, "one who talks much," and it was his duty to learn, to remember, and to tell and teach the legends to the entire village when they met for this purpose. He was to answer the questions of the children which parents could not answer, and his was the responsibility of presenting the legends and
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answer in such a way that they were interesting; so as to be memorable. He was often called upon as a go-between in more serious problems, and his was also the task of "talking peace" between villages, or tribes, and the Takelma.

SECTION IX: WAR AND WAR IMPLEMENTS
[Page 94] Sapir's opinion was that the Takelma, on the whole, was a rather warlike tribe, crediting their rapid extinction to this attitude upon the appearance of white men in their country.
Contrary to this are the opinions expressed by earlier writers who noted their thoughts at times when the Takelma were still living in their homelands.
Mr. Hastings, author of the noted "Emigrants' Guide" (1845) said that Indians with canoes paddled out and offered to take his party across the Rogue River, and he said they seemed very friendly (May 1843), and graciously ported every one of the 53 people in that party across the river, and refused any payment. George Riddle, husband to the Modoc princess Winema, wrote of a similar experience in being rowed across the river by the friendly Takelma.
To clarify the sudden change from peaceable people to warlike people upon the arrival of white men in
[Page 95] their lands, one need only remember the letter Dr. Ambrose wrote to Judge Matthew P Deady, (dated Jacksonville, Oct. 18, 1855) [In "History of Oregon," Chas. H. Carey, Pioneer, Rob. Co., Chicago, Portland, 1922, page 570, footnote]
"It may be well to determine what has caused all this. Last spring when Dryer was here stumping the country, he advised the extermination of the Indians, the innocent as well as the guilty. Clarendon, in his letters, has kept constantly before the people this favorite project of extermination, and to incite their passions and prejudices he has magnified every depredation committed by the Indians into the most brutal acts of barbarity, without any extenuating circumstances in their favor. The Indians have all along been told that just as soon as winter should set in they would all be killed, that the whites were determined to do it, and that if they went to the fort, it would be the same, that Capt. himself would do it was soon as winter set in. And furthermore, everything that was done by Indians the past summer, in
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[Page 96] this valley or in California, were charged upon the Rogue River Indians when they took no hand or participation in it.
"They, the soldiers, began this themselves. They raised a big company of men and made several simultaneous raids upon the Indians, killing some 25 or 30, mostly women and children. Some old gray-headed men were enticed by the women, who were captives, to give up their bows and arrows and come out of the brush, and they should not be hurt, and when they had complied, all were killed. [This was the Lupton attack upon village site where Little Butte flows into Rogue River, near Touvelle Park] I give you this upon the authority of James Bruce and Mr Pelton who both stated that they saw it done and walked off, in sorrow, because their countrymen would do so and they could not control it. The morning you left here, this had been done privily, and unknown to the settlers of the valley, and before ten o'clock those gallant men who had fought so bravely had mostly disbanded and scattered in different" [Page 97] directions and some denied any knowledge of it."
According to the private diary of Abigail Taylor, an early pioneer who came west as a young lady, the Rev. Charles Hoxie settled on grounds which are now Medford. As this was good grazing, it was used as "common grazing" grounds by early settlers, and to protect this stock against unexpected raids, a number of men would take turns on "watch" at the Hoxie place. Slowly, men were permanently stationed there until at last, this area was known as "Fort Hoxie" and present a face of a threatening army to the natives.
Still other conditions which served to give the Takelma a warlike reputation were the following: [From the popular "Walling - History of Southern Oregon"] (1) 1850, Congress passed an act extinguishing Indian titles to all lands west of the Cascade Mountains and appointed Anson Dart as Supt. of Indian Affairs in this area, with P.C. Dart as his secretary; (2) sub-agents were A. G. Henry and Elis Wampole, and H. H. Spalding who was in the area, but
[Page 98] Spalding, for the Umpquas, seldom visited them, and he was soon removed, and Dart reported back that with the extermination of most of the Indians there was more peace, (3) while other appointed persons did not arrive at all but launched upon voyages to the Sandwich Islands and down to southern California for the single purpose of swaying the white men to the opinion that all Indians should be killed.
Previous to the raid at Little Butte and Rogue River led by J. A. Lupton (The final event setting off the Rogue River Wars), other inhuman treatment of the Indians had continued, among which were the "Last People's Court" when the people of Jacksonville, urged on by T. McFadden Patton, hanged two Indian boys of about 12 years old "just because they were Indians," and the stealing of a young Takelma wife by a Mexican mule-skinner (who was aided by George Harris, husband of locally renowned Marry Harris.)
Is is interesting to note that upon that "Great Day of Infamy" when the
[Page 99] Takelma launched their great and final attack, at the start of the war, the home of George Harris was the first attacked, and this man who knew no Indians' rights which he ought to respect, was one of the first to be killed.
So it is that there were conflicting reports as to the disposition of the Takelma. At the turn of the century, both Modocs and Klamaths report having called the Takelma "enemies" but none could recall ever having actual conflict with them. The fact that obsidian was bartered for with the Klamath and Modoc by the Takelma could indicate there had been rather peaceable relations for a great length of time.
The Upper Takelma, inter-mixed with Athapascans, and living on less desirable lands (with less native foods) may well have made raids for taking necessary items from time to time.
It is safe to conclude that except for defensive action against intruders, the Takelma did not make war, and their lack of efficient war-
[Page 100] objects seems to substantiate this.
The bow and arrow used for hunting was the same as that used against the white men. The bow was held horizontally, the Indian keeping a second arrow between his teeth and at the ready for fast firing.
There are stories that the Takelma kept arrow points soaking in the blood of rattlesnakes to make them poisonous, but it is the venom and not the blood of this snake which is poisonous, and too, it is doubtful that a stone point would carry enough of venom dried upon its hard surface to have an appreciable effect upon a victim.
Elk-hide hats and a kind or armour-plate of sticks and rushes was reported worn by the Takelma in skirmishes with white men, but no history gives a record of their making such armour for a long enough period to have perfected this battle-dress as it was perfected by many other Indians.
When the Takelma was actually "on the war-path" to settle neighborhood
[Page 101] quarrels or to engage in the later skirmishes his intentions were clearly made known to all by the wearing of white paint upon the forehead, after the great Grizzly Bear, and because his hair was tied into a tight knot at the back of his head. The phrase, "he ties his hair tight" is synonymous in their myths with "he prepared for war."
Women participated in the war dance and they most often went with the men to battle, watching over any slaves taken, cooking for the men, and caring for the wounded. It was another task of the women to burn the bodies of their dead, on the spot, for this religious practise was strictly followed.
The drum seems to have been completely unknown, and time was kept, for dances, by stomping feet upon the ground or by beating on the ground with a heavy stick. The only musical instrument of which there is any record is a kind of flute or fife (deity') which was made of the reed of the wild turnip.
In conflict, it was considered well
[Page 102] to destroy the enemy, but to so frighten him and run him away that he could not burn his own dead, was considered a great victory, for it was believed that unless men killed in battle were burned, near the place, they could not continue in another life.
It was not uncommon for the Takelma to take one symbolistic bite from the heart of his victim, overcome in battle. Just as with the heart of the slain deer, the eating of the heart was thought to grant that courage and strength to the one who had killed it. There is no indication that the entire heart was eaten, in the case of a slain man. There is nothing to authenticate the old tales out of Jacksonville that spoke of the Takelma as practising true cannibalism.

|| SECTION VII:SECTION X. RELIGIOUS IDEAS, SUPERSTITIONS, LEGENDARY BEINGS
[Page 103] The hoyodagwan was a most important dance, which was performed in conjunction with some festivity. It was given for girls upon reaching puberty, along with proper ceremony. When a girl became about 13 years old, her father invited friends to a great feast lasting five days and nights, five being the mythical and ceremonial number of greatest importance to the Takelma. During this time, the girl ate nothing until noon, then an older woman, usually a grandmother, would come and direct the girl to run five times around two trees which had been selected nearby for the purpose. After this, she would eat, but after about 4:00 pm she could eat nothing more until noon the next day. During this festival the girl had her bangs cut and she painted herself with one
[Page 104] red and four black stripes on each cheek, and was subject to a number of taboos. To prevent her from looking at the sky or gazing about her, a string of blue-jay feathers was put across her forehead and tied to her hair in back. She was required to sleep with her head inside a funnel-shaped basket, this to prevent her from dreaming of the dead, a bad omen. During each of the five nights, a circle of men and women was formed about her, dancing around in a circle and singing the proper ceremonial song. On the fifth day, the girl, now seen as a young woman (K'aiso'-K'da), was dressed in her finest of hair, nose, neck, ear, and arm ornaments. She was tattooed at this time, upon the chin, if she had not already had this done at an earlier age.
Marriages were arranged by the parents, and a token "purchase money" was given for her. Status of the children depended largely upon the price which had been paid for the mother. This, with other customs, lead the Takelma into its
[Page 105] matriarchal form and heritage.
The husband's debt to his wife's parents continued as long as they lived, and canoe trips were often made for long distances to carry gifts of dried salmon and the like to the parents. These trips, called motwoK', literally meant "son-in-law arrives." After the birth of the first baby, a gift of a deerskin sack filled with Indian money was given to the wives' parents, considered equivalent to buying of the child, or "making its pillow."
The new mother could eat no meat until the baby was a month old. At this time, the baby was taken to the river and washed five times, and five times waved over the river as a sort of baptismal right. Until this time, the father could not spend a night in the house with his wife and child, and the elders of the village kept close watch to see this was not violated. If one day came and none could account for the place the husband had spent the night, he was punished severely and made a
[Page 106] sort of outcast for several days.
Due to this, the new father most often spent these nights in the home of his parents, careful to see that they were aware of his presence.
Both males and females could be shamans, and the intending Shaman would undergo a suitable period of training, of fasting and praying in the mountains, similar to the method of acquiring "totems" by the Columbia River tribes. During this period of his isolation and application, one or many spirits would appear and make known their guardianship by bestowal of a "medicine song." Each spirit had its individual song, and this was taught to the shaman adopting that spirit. These were usually animal spirits, or natural objects or forces.
The student was not free to choose whom he wished as his guardian spirit, but was rather chosen by the spirit or by its "good will." Therefore, the Shaman was considered the "slave of his spirit" and his actions were interpreted largely as a carrying
[Page 107] out of their behests. These spirits had to be kept in good humor: if a shaman was called upon to perform at a house - even at a great distance - he was not allowed to eat before he had performed. He must first dance much, such dance interpreted as being the "food" for the shaman's spirit. If the shaman were to eat first he would be guilty of satisfying his own hunger before that of his master, insulting the spirit whose resentment and ill will was never wished for.
There is nothing to show that either male or female shamans were the more powerful. Mrs. Johnson reported to Sapir [Journal American Folklore, vol XX, Jan-March 1907, No. LXXVI, Sapir "Religious Ideas of the Takelma (et al)] a duo-sexed person, swayau, with a man's voice and female attire, credited with unusually strong shamanistic powers. This resembles the "berdashes" found among Shasta Indians.
Coyote was the most powerful and popular spirit held by most shamans,
[Page 108] and his song was known because every word began with a meaningless prefixed 's'. This peculiarity would be imitated by the Shaman in his "Coyote Song," if he had acquired Coyote as one of his guardians. Other strong spirits were panther, wolf, rattlesnake, eagle, hummingbird, woodpecker, yellowhammer, moon, sun, and wind. Of these, the sun was least desirable for its acquisition, it was believed, entailed the loss to the shaman of his own children.
These spirits were not possessed by the great run of people who were called yap!a gamaxdi, or "raw people."
The attitude of the Takelma toward shamans is illustrated in their attitude concerning retaliation for murder. Ordinarily, the murder of an Indian gave rise to much ill will, and nothing was settled until payment of considerable value had been made to the relatives of the dead. But when a shaman was slain, his or her relatives must be content with the payment of a small fine by the killer, and his
[Page 109] relatives retained no right of retaliation for none knew how many deaths had been caused by that shaman in his or her lifetime. Shamans received respect, and fear, but little else of that nature.
The theory of disease among the Takelma was that which almost universally obtains among primitive tribes. The disease or ailment was believed caused by a "disease spirit" or "pain spirit" that had become lodged in some part of the victim's body. This ts idaxgwa, the disease spirit, was thought of in quite natural terms and could be extracted by persons properly qualified, much as a splinter is extracted. No bodily ill, nor even death, was the result of purely natural causes but was due to the malice of some evil-minded person or thing. Shamans were always suspected of causing disease and death, either of their own wish to do so or because he had been hired by a third party to do so. The Takelma term, yap!a da-uya ts! ayaK'i, means literally "people disease-spirit he shoots them with." A powerful shaman
[Page 110] might reach his victim by merely wishing him ill, or "mind-poisoning" him. This method was often used by Coyote. Sometimes the wish could be carried by hummingbird or whirlwind.
It often happened that when a person fell ill a particular shaman was accused by another shaman of being the one responsible. In such cases, the accused shaman was required to cure the sick person or else suffer death as a penalty.
In doctoring a sick person the method was to appeal to the guardian spirit for information as to the location of the tx!isdaxgwa so that the shaman might "catch it and extract it from the body." The medicine song, a series of meaningless syllables or "burdens," intermingled with snatches of connected words, all chanted in a monotonous song of indeterminate length. The people assembled in the house and joined in this singing.
If the shaman is a woman, her husband begins the song; if a man,
[Page 111] his wife begins the song. This person also explained the unintelligible communication of the shaman to the people, and was called a "shaman answerer" or "shaman helper." When this helper begins the song, the shaman joins in, and lastly the people who believe their voices add to the effective powers of the shaman.
Despite the fear they inspired, shamans were called upon often in the cure of disease, in rain-making, causing of the rain or snow to stop, and to remove the curse of another shaman set upon doing evil to the individual.
The following story was told to Mr. Sapir by Frances Johnson, his informant at Siletz: [Religious ideas of the Takelma-" Sapir, Journal American Folklore, et al]
"at that time I became sick. And then a shaman was paid, my father paid a shaman; four shamans danced for me. I almost died. Now I dreamt of a shaman. And then I was nothing but bones; my food was half a spoon, not even a full
[Page 112] spoon did my mother give me to eat, not even that much, nor did I drink any water. Now in the fall-time I dreamt of a shaman who had not danced for me. Four shamans had been dancing for me, but that shaman I dreamt of, that one had not danced for me yet. [Success of this shaman, the fifth to dance for Mrs. Johnson, was practically assured since he would be the fifth, a number of great religious importance.] My mother went to fetch the shaman I dreamt of, and just then she came. Then the people assembled together, but I did not see the people coming together. I was dead. And she danced just when it had become noon, in the afternoon. Then the shaman said, "She might jump up!" Now I was dead. Who jumps up when he is dead? Jumping now upon the disease spirit, then something like a splinter of wood being pulled out, and then I arose. "Give me food Mother!" I said. Then she had pulled it out. I felt it when she pulled it out. Then she laughed from joy and said
[Page 113] thus, "Tell her to wait now until I set her body right!" Then she sang again and set my body completely right. Then she put the blood into a basket-bucket (K!el) and set everything right. With her lips she sucked it from me, the blood, and she put it in her basket-bucket. Not again did I become sick. Then thus she said "Not again, not again will you become sick as long as I live, as long as I do not die; if I die, just then will you again fall sick: she said to me. "She is a good girl, not badly she talks to people, always good in her heart, ever she laughs." Then, "Now let her bathe" she spoke to my mother. Prepare hot water and let her bathe, then give her food to eat." So my mother prepared warm water and then she made me bathe, then gave me food. After this they all returned to their homes, and the shaman returned to her own house. She cured me and I did not become sick again. My hair all came out, this way
[Page 114] I did become so, no hair I had upon my head, I just tied a mat upon my head. Thus she cured me. For that reason, I, for my part, believe in shamans.”
It is interesting to note that this shaman, aware of the general feeling toward shamans, used this opportunity to assure a measure of safety to herself by warning that as long as she lived, Frances Johnson would live, but if some other shaman should "mind-poison" her, of their own wish or because they were hired, and if she should die, Mrs. Johnson would die also. Such subtle diplomacy in pre-historic tribes seems to indicate an advanced mentality of higher degree than has been credited to them.
Besides the popular goyo (shaman), there was the somloholxas {represented as s-omloholxa's in Takelma and their Athapascan Neighbors, by Dennis Gray.} who was also endowed with supernatural powers, capable of influencing powerful spirits, yet in every respect entirely distinct from the goyo. He was said to be able to dream of the creation
[Page 115] of all things, and of all that was to be. Like the goyo, he could cure diseases, but unlike him, he had no power of inflicting it, or if he did he did not use it. He was looked upon as of friendly disposition towards his fellow man. He was not able to "catch the pain," and he did not dance nor require the services of others in his singing. His procedure consisted mainly in sitting down by the side of the sick person and rubbing the affected part while softly singing his medicine song. The untranslatable words "ha gwatchi ha gwatchi" recurred often.
These two classes of medicine men correspond to those often found in other Indian tribes, illustrated among the Wasco of the Dalles by the idiagiwan, one who "shoots people," and the idiaxilalit, one who "doctors" people.
The relationship between the two medicine men was hostility, the doctor-shaman often being called upon to counteract the evil work of a goyo. The two appealed to two entirely
[Page 116] different sets of "guardian spirits" or supernatural helpers. Among such helpers available to the doctor-shaman were such powerful spirits as that of chicken-hawk, sparrow-hawk, the Acorn Woman (Talsunne) and a number of local "mountain" spirits. At a place north of Rogue River between Grants Pass and Leaf Creek situated near the (then) village of Da'daniK, was a rock of about three feet in height with elongated top, and near to this a basket-shaped rock formation. This was "Rock Old Woman" of whom there is a legend. [On following pages under sub-head "Legends"] She was addressed as "Grandmother" and was considered to be a great spirit-power for the somloholxas. Other such nature-spirits were near Jacksonville, and in the Illinois Valley. Plans also were credited with supernatural powers which could be bestowed upon the doctor-shaman, and of these were the yellow-pine, and certain group-formations of fir trees or knolls covered with
[Page 117] oak and brush. Each of these plant, animal, and mountain spirits had his or her particular song which gave healing powers to the doctor-shaman but which could also bring harm to the goyo-shaman.
In the Chicken-Hawk myth, the shaman is treated with little consideration. In order to revenge himself for the death of his wife, Chicken Hawk slays wholesale hosts of shamans, and not content with that, proceeds to the annihilation of all mankind until caused to desist by a gigantic embassy of the Crow people. Chicken Hawk, chief helper of somloholxas, possessed a war-song which was particularly strong medicine. If a shaman made himself especially feared by the community which did not wish to kill the shaman, the doctor-shaman was hired to drive out the evil guardian spirits and render the shaman incapable of doing further harm. Mrs. Johnson gave the following report of such a "healing": [ibid]
[Page 118] A bad-hearted shaman, of such a one his bad spirits are driven out, since they eat up people. Now it is not desired to kill him, so for that reason his spirits are driven out. Raw People" cannot do it, only can the somloholxa do it. 'Do that to him' he is told by the people, for he does not do it of his own accord. So now night has come and the people have gathered together in the house. Then the shaman is placed alongside the fire without any clothes on him. Then dust-ashes are scattered all over his body by clapping hands, and one of the guardian spirits goes out. Now as it goes out the shaman groans, and there is blood in his mouth. Then the somloholxa does that to him again and claps dust over him. Now when one of his guardian spirits goes out of him again, there is blood in his mouth and the shaman counts how many of his guardian spirits go out of himself. Now two have come out.
[Page 119] The the shaman is addressed 'Do not hide it! Let them all go!' he is told. As many as twenty spirits may be ejected. Now the shaman is asked "Are they all gone now?' There are many people, the house is full, and he says 'Yes they are all gone now there are none now!' He is asked 'Do you tell the truth? Have they all disappeared now?' and he says 'Yes.' The somloholxas is told by the people 'Well, try him again!' so he does the same thing again, he rubs ashes over him and scatters it clapping his hands. There are no more of his spirits to come out. They are all gone now. Twice the bad shaman ate up people, therefore that was done to him. Now when the shaman has recovered, then he has become like 'one that has had dust thrown on him.' But sometimes many shamans were able to conceal one of their guardian spirits and so continued to harm people secretly, but this was not often the case."
[Page 120] Concerning death and burial, the customs of the Takelma were not uniform at the time white men came into the country. In his book,"Life Among the Modocs," Joaquin Miller expresses his belief that all the people from the Sacramento area, northward and eastward to some distance and including southern Oregon, were of a giant tribe, and it had been their custom to burn their dead, but a stranger, an Indian traveling from the east, had come among them and told them if they burned the dead they could not come back. At this time, Mr. Miller explains, they started burying the dead in clay, carried on foot for miles, packing it around the body in layers along with some of their possessions, and building a fire on top to dry the clay into a kind of cement.
Since few burials have been found in consideration of the past size of the Takelma tribe, and the great length of time they seem to have occupied these lands, and
[Page 121] these burials seem to be less than 200 years old, it is reasonable to assume that burial customs did undergo change in more recent times. The "canoe-burial" referred to in the legends was probably quite widely practised among people living along the rivers, giving a third burial custom for the Takelma.
Of ceremonies, all of which are referred to as hodagwa (which is also the dance performed at the time), there were those at the regular salmon "runs" and on the appearance and harvesting of the acorn, while those concerned with only the people were the "menstrual feast" for the girl at puberty, and in time of war or such conflict, on special "hunts" occasions and in special medicine rites of the goyo-shaman. Such ceremonies varied from an evening of singing and dancing to the days-long feasts and festivities held at a pre-arranged place, usually in Sam's Valley near the Table Rock, when people came from great distances to celebrate the hodagwa to Acorn Woman, mythical creature living on Mt. McLaughlin, who caused acorns
[Page 122] to grow.
The psychological basis of Takelma belief is similar to that of other northwestern tribes. Of a Supreme Being, approaching the Tirawa of the Pawnees, there is no trace. Reference is made to a being who created all things and who existed in the dawn of time and was termed Haap'Kemnas, or "Children Maker" but no myth was obtained of this being which was devoted to him, and he does not seem to figure in their traditions and worship.
Events of nature and the good or ill fortune of men was identified with animals or plants, the present transformed representatives of the primeval inhabitants of earth. Thunder was caused by the drumming of a giant raccoon-like animal, while the lightning was his camp fire, and when he was heard, the Takelma "pinched their dogs" to make them bark, hoping the sound would drive him away. Phases of the moon were due to its being swallowed by frogs and lizards.
[Page 123] Still other supernatural beings are identified with or manifested in such inorganic objects as sun, moon, wind, whirlwind, snow, rain, and storm.
There seems to have been no demarcation between such apparently lifeless phenomena and the organic world; both seem to act of their own volition to influence human life. A third group of "spirits" are localized and associated with certain rocks, trees or mountains, and direct offerings of food and other valuables were sometimes left at these places as offerings.
There was another class of beings which were thought to have inhabited the woods or waters, figuring in their mythology. Chief of these is Talsunne, the "Acorn Woman" or "Acorn Chieftainess," a giantess who was thought to walk forth upon the land with her great burden-basket, sprinkling small undescribed objects which, when coming to rest on limbs of the oak trees, caused the acorns to grow. The mythological "seeds" she
[Page 124] thus distributed were not described but it was said that it was "parts of her body flesh."
Hulun-wa-iwi, half-human mermaid, with other vaguely described denizens of waters, was thought to live in Rogue River and its tributaries, and she taunted the unwary canoeman with jibes and insulting epithets, making him lose his head in attempt to seek vengeance so that he fell into the water and disappeared, never to be seen again, or if his body should be found, it was darkly discolored, the same color as this water-person and such was reasonable proof to the Takelma as to the disaster which had befallen the man at the hands of this or other like creatures.
Yap!a daldi, or "wild men of woods" were described just as such beings today in the many reports of an "Abominable Snowman," or "Yeti" or "Big Foot." Half man and half beast, he was quite tall and hairy, but he figures as a
[Page 125] half-civilized being and sometimes helpful to the people who seemed not particularly afraid of him. In a legend, KuKu, the son of Blue Jay, was a half-grown Yap'a-Daldi who was burnt to death by a culture-hero, and he seems intended to represent, in his later transformed form, the echo.
Dint Dint, a race of dwarfs no bigger than small children, were said to be exceedingly strong and able to pack whole elks, alone, out of the forest. Their home was thought to be at the edge of the Takelma lands and extending on into Northern California into the Shasta Indian lands. These were also thought of as somewhat friendly and helpful to those who treated them well and needed their help.
Xilam t!egilixi, (x is pronounced as ch in Bach), the "rolling skulls of dead people" were thought to kill all in their path. With a cry thought to imitate the cry of these beings, of "ximi ximi," disobedient children were sometimes pressured to hasten or to
[Page 126>] be more obedient.
Gelgal was a large serpent in their mythology, described much as a boa constrictor, capable of squeezing human beings to death[Only one constrictor type serpent has been noted on this continent, in ancient times, and it was no more that 2 feet long.]
Datwadagalai, a black four-legged and tailed "water-dog" was supposed to crawl along at the bottom of the creek, never coming to land. ["Water Monsters of Northern California," Jrnl. Amer. Folklore No. 75 page 323]
The third group of non-material terrors are similar to those man has plagued himself with the world over. There were a number of "charms" which were certain chants or actions or both which were to be performed on occasion of necessity. These are often the "appeals" of shamans in cure of disease, or by "raw people" to prevent disease or other ill fortune. The general content of these prayer-charms is an adjuration to powers of evil to depart
[Page 127] and an expression of the desire for long life, health, safety, prosperity, and the like. When one of the spirits manifested itself, these were performed, or when certain animal cries were heard, or at the appearance of a snow storm, and so on. The available list is not at all complete, but the following are all that were available:
When the screech-owl (bobop') was heard, a prayer for the capture of deer the next day was recited. This bird was a harbinger of good telling of deer which would be taken for he also hungered for the fat of the deer. Directing a puff of smoke in the direction of the screech-owl, the following words were said:
Dost thou wish to eat? Tomorrow, five deer I shall catch them 'Then fat thou will eat it, blood thou wilt eat it, thou wishest to eat.
Such "prayer" or "charm" was intended to confirm the good omen by a promise of food to the bringer of the message, or screech-owl.
[Page 128] Hummingbirds were looked upon as messengers sent out by shamans to work for evil. When one of these birds was heard humming about near one, it was supposed to be trying to tear out one's hair, to return some of it to the shaman-goyo. This seems related to a widespread belief of the power to do harm by applying sympathetic magic to one's hair, nail-trimmings or the like. To obviate, if possible, the ill omen of the hummingbird, a curse is directed to it, or perhaps to the shaman-goyo whom it represents:
Thou shalt die with my hair when thou pullest it and from side of my head. Thy house, in it, thou shalt rot with it.
T!gwala, the larger hooting-owl, is a bird of ill omen, prophesying death and stealing children. When heard, one called out this address to him:
"News? Didst thou come to tell me? [Page 129] Yonder, alongside the earth's rib, look! [The Takelma saw the earth as a giant lizard, with directions pointing to head, rib, tail, and other rib.] Who has been killed? Far away people are many there? Didst thou see them there? Are they dying? That? Far news didst thou come to tell me?"
Thus it is hoped to cajole the owl into reporting the death of someone far away rather than referring to the speaker or someone near him.
T!eK', the yellow-hammer is distinguished by an ancient story told about him when a number of people passed a group of houses. Unable to control his excitement, he announced loudly to all "T!eK! Now they have passed the first house. T!eK! Now they have passed the second house" and so on, reporting step by step the progress of the visitors. So it was that when his cry was heard he is supposed to be telling of some one's arrival, and he was spoken to thus:
"People, when they come he discovers them. 'People' they are [Page 30] coming' he says. Didst thou see people coming? Thou need not tell me again that thou has seen them!"
When new-moon (bixalbaat!ebet'a) was seen, the people were joyous. The moon, in passing through its phases was thought subjected to the attacks of its reptilian enemies and to be completely worsted in the end when it did not appear at all (dark of moon). But then, the mood has powerful "medicine" with which to combat its enemies, and when it reappears, it has surely triumphed over greatest odds. This wish-prayer is spoken to the moon when it returns:
"I shall prosper, still longer I shall go. Even when people say 'I would that he should die,' if they say that of me, just like thee I shall do, again, I will rise. Even many beings, when they devour thee, frogs when they eat thee, many beings evil such as lizards, when they devour thee, [Card 131] " still again dost thou rise. Thee, just like, I shall do in time to come."
P!aas, the Spirit of Snow, though he drove deer down from the mountains, was not believed to be particularly well disposed to men whom he begrudged the game. When it snowed too heavily or too long, advantage was taken of his character to bring him to halt by reciting this address as a ruse, each syllable being pronounced clearly by itself and with pomp:
Hitherwards drive the elk, the black-necked ones that dwell back of the mountains, in dark places under the trees. Snow is stingy, it does not desire to drive down the elk.
Winter Storm Woman was thought to be a giantess who came, with her children and digging-sticks [As those used by Takelma for digging camas roots.]
[Page 132] and her sifting basket from which she sometimes sifted sleet when she came. Instead of digging up camas, she dug up trees, and the discarded ones were found fallen and lying about after a storm. When it stormed, she was called out to thus:
Away from here pass. Thy digging stick! Not hither come with it. Not hither come. Thy children, perchance they touch the bones of the dead ones with their feet. Pass with thy sifting basket-pan! To Mt. Alwilamchadis pass with it thy digging stick.
P'o-yamx, the whirlwind, was felt to be an undesirable presence, for it was feared it sought to bear a message fraught with evil for some one. It was believed that an evil omen might be dealt with by claiming some relationship to it, for this often worked among people. So it was said to him:
[Page 133] Now whirlwind-house whirls up past my house-door, earth it is kicked up, and it is said 'ennnnnnnn,' (imitative sound), and it says 'ennnnnn, thy friend I am, thy relative I am, of thy relations,' he says to me.
Ordinary winds, if not too strong, were thought to effectively drive the sickness from the body. The medicine-formula was spoken to it:
He! From lower part of my body thou shalt drive away evil things bad, from crown of my head thou shalt drive them away, from above my hands though shalt drive them away, from within my backbone thou shalt drive away evil things bad, psssssssssss!
When it rained hard for very long and it was desired that the rain should stop, these steps were followed, for most rain-bearing winds came from the west, and it was hoped to frighten the
[Page 134] rain spirit as he proceeded to the west. A fire of cat-tails was burned in the western portion of the fire-hole in the house, and this prayer-chant was said:
How long is it before though wilt cease? So long hast thou been raining!
Then from outside, the speaker would shout loudly enough for Rain Spirit to hear the orders:
Do ye burn cat-tails to the west? The answer was supposed to completely discourage Rain Spirit, who would soon go away.
When a person sneezed it was believed that his name was being mentioned by someone far off. [Similar to superstition currently popular in some areas, that if one's nose itches, someone is speaking of them.]
If such mention should be in association with evil wishes, this chant was spoken, and at the end, a long continued current of breath was blown by the speaker as symbolic
[Page 135] of the long life desired:
Who is it that calls my name? May ye who speaks of me say in regard to me Do thou prosper, mayest thou go ahead, continue life for another day.' May he speak thus of me. Pssssssssssss."
X'ilam sebet, or "roasting dead people," was a certain black long-legged bug about half an inch long. According to an old myth, this bug was blamed for originating death, so when he was seen he was quickly killed. This may have been the common "black-widow" spider we know today.
Other ill-omens were the black-striped snake (unidentified) which was always killed when it crossed one's path, and to fail to do this was a sign that some of one's relatives would die. If a "rattlesnake bites your shadow" it is a sign you will vomit. It was good to dream of traveling to the east but to dream of going westward was a bad omen as was dreaming of muddy water or
[Page 136] of snakes.
Blue Jay (ts!ais) was supposed to be trying to imitate Eagle, and thereby making people fear him, for Eagle's screech was a sign that someone would soon be killed with an arrow.
When a man hiccoughs he is supposed to have told a lie. As a remedy a piece of food was given to him, handed back across one's shoulder with the words "Altgai" which meant "eat this." [Similar to slowly drinking a glass of water to rid oneself of hiccoughs, the basic idea being to stimulate nerve and muscle systems to reverse and move downward rather than upward.]
It was believed that if myths were related to children in the daytime, their ears would grow very long and be caught by rattlesnakes. Nor were legends told in summer time, for this would cause the days to begin to grow shorter. Myth-telling, then, was reserved for long winter evenings when little other activity was possible.
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SECTION XI:LEGENDS (AS TOLD)
[Page 137] Legends (As Told)
Origin of death [Handbook of American Indian Language, BAE Bulletin 40, part 2, Wash, 1922.]
The child of Roasting Dead People died.["Roasting Dead People," thought to originate death (per this legend) described as "black bug 1/2 inch long, with long legs - probably the black widow spider.]
He and Coyote were neighbors to each other. Thereupon he said to him "Lend me a blanket for my child has died, lend me a blanket. [A Takelma belief seems to require wrapping the dead (who were buried) in a blanket to assure a future life to them.]
I'll not lend you a blanket for where are they going to be if dead people come back? said Coyote.
Next door Roasting Dead People he returned and buried his child that died.
Then tis said a long time elapsed. Now Coyote's child became sick
[Page 138] and died. Now next door he went to Roasting Dead People. "Lend me a blanket for my child has died."
What did you say? Roasting Dead People said that. "Yesterday indeed when I did say to you 'Lend me a blanket' you, for your part, did say to me 'Where will the people be if they return? Now my child is rotting" said Roasting Dead People.
So next door Coyote returned "Sga!" he cried. [Sga! is untranslatable, but is prefaced by the usual 's' attributed to Coyote as a "Power-spirit," and shaman-goyos with Coyote power, used s before all words spoken.] For that reason people do not nowadays return when they die.
[Page 139] Note:
The following legends are from a work by Edward Sapir, a George Lieb Harrison Research Fellow in Anthropology ["Takelma Texts," pub Univ. Pennsylvania Museum Anthropological Publications Vol II, No 1. 1909.]
During his studies, in July and August 1906, at Siletz Reservation, there were only a handful of speakers left (of the Takelma language). Mrs. Frances Johnson, of unknown age, but active and "very bright," (Indian name Gwisgwashan) a full-blooded Indian of Takelma tribe, related these legends, and was listened to by the remaining Takelma who were to help by correcting, in event she made errors, however, they were in agreement that she had made no mistakes, and that the legends were just as she told them.
Sapir noted that while there at first seems a "California character" of Takelma culture, the mythology differs strikingly from the typical mythology of California in at least two important respects: the
[Page 140] absence of a creation myth and the presence of a well-defined culture-hero mythology. It does not identify culture-hero with Coyote, and so differs from other Oregon Indian legends. Coyote appears frequently enough but never as culture-hero, but sometimes as transformer, along with Daldal, the creature who came from the sea, walked up Rogue River, transforming what Children Maker had made and making things "better." Daldal is not mentioned but rarely in the myths for he has long since turned into the dragonfly who keeps watch and "even yet helps Takelma by eating mosquitoes."
As a number of the legends were not greatly significant, nor entirely appropriate in a work to be read by both children and adults, they are deleted here.
It is interesting to note the high degree of sophisticated humor displayed in these legends, in the more complex story of the Ghost People, and others. This revelation
[Page 141] of advanced intelligence taken in connection with recent discovery of clay dishes, pipes, figurines and the like, along Snider Creek, in Sam's Valley, in "Derby Valley" and at other places where the Takelma lived, seems to give us a new picture of these now-extinct Takelma as of being far more advanced and intelligent than was previously thought.
Coyote and His Grandson (their oldest legend)
There are Wolf and Panther in ten houses. [That is, there were 10 houses, 5 occupied by Wolf people and 5 occupied by Panther people.] These were Coyote, Crane, Coyote's wife, and one daughter of his, a girl sleeping on a board platform, [an unmarried but mature girl.] Coyote's daughter. Black clouds spread out in long strips as the girl was bathing in the evening time. Her shirt she took off and bathed. One otter youth arrived in the river with his canoe, and landed. Then he stole the girl and
[Page 142] took her with him. Then, tis said, a stone he took up and put into her and into his own house he came with her.
The girl was pregnant and gave birth to a child. Then Coyote missed his girl. He looked for her but found only her skirt by the water. Then he became a mourner. Before, Coyote always killed big deer, but now he could only kill fawns, and he was as a slave. Coyote did not know where his daughter had been taken away.
Now the child was born and it grew. Now he became big. His mother told him "your maternal grandparents are living up the river." Then he traveled about in his canoe. "Mother, I shall go to see my maternal grandparents."
Tis far away she said.
There I will go he replied.
You will be lost she said.
I shall go! What is their appearance?
"He is redeared, sharp-clawed,
[Card 143] sharp nose, and red in his ears. Your grandmother has a long neck."
Rock Boy had become big. He paddled a canoe off up the stream. He sang "As Otter's boy, I wander about." Over a house he walked, "tul, tul, tul."
Who is on top of the graveyard house? someone said.
Is that a graveyard house? he asked.
Look inside they said. Inside he looked and was hit, his nose was scratched and became full of blood. Then he went in the house and hit and whipped the people. He demanded and got dentalia for that injury, and when he had got it he made all the people to be well again. He took up water and blew it upon them and made them well.
Then he went off up the stream and soon this all happened again, and he was hit and he hit the people and got dentalia then blew water upon them and made them well again.
Then he went on, singing. And
[Page 144] night came, but then he thought he had found his maternal grandparents. He was hungry, he looked for food and he found acorn mush and ate it. Then he awakened the people.
It must be Wolf's children she said. And when Coyote was awake, Rock Boy said "I am hungry, go and hunt, I desire venison fat."
Coyote could no longer kill big deer but only fawns. And Wolf's wife kept stealing Coyote's wife's food. And Rock Boy beat her then, and killed all the women. Coyote only had a fawn. When they came the women said "he has whipped us all." And Rock Boy was hard and he beat all the Women of Wolf and their husbands.
Then he went down river again, to his mother, and he told her how Wolf had enslaved all her Coyote people, taking their food and firewood.
So Rock Boy's mother, Coyote's daughter, went to her father, and
[Page 145] her husband too, with a canoe ful of salmon. Coyote was very happy when he saw them, and their daughter returned, and Rock Boy had killed all the Wolf people.
Coyote and Pitch
(Sapir notes this is similar to an African tale of the E'we-speaking people of the west coast of Africa, and which was brought by slaves to America and altered to the "Tar-Baby Story," but the decidedly idiomatic and allusive character of the Takelma text proves beyond doubt it is entirely aboriginal with Takelma)
There was a house. Coyote and his younger brother, tis said, for a long time were wont to hunt. Then one day when (little) Coyote was out hunting he heard something say "Who is going to hit me? Who is it that is sharp-mouthed, red-eared, sharp-clawed who is going to hit me?"
Who is saying that? said Coyote.
[Page 146] Then he heard it all again and he said "long ago when I hit someone, I hit him so hard a blow in the face that I pushed his eye clear through his head."
But the voice kept teasing Coyote and then they quarreled with each other. Now he hit Pitch, and Coyote's hand was held fast.
"What are you doing? You have my hand held fast!"
And then Pitch said "Who is going to hit me with his other hand?" And Coyote was angry and struck at Pitch with his other hand and it was stuck.
"Who is going to dare kick at me with his foot?" Pitch asked. Coyote grew angry and kicked and was stuck, and when he kicked with his other foot it became stuck fast also.
Then Pitch kept taunting: "Who is going to try to cut me with his tail?"
Coyote struck with his tail and it was also stuck fast.
[Page 147] "Who is going to bite me with his mouth?" Pitch asked, daring.
Coyote replied, "Long ago by the ocean I bit people and many died" and then Coyote bit Pitch.
"Now Coyote is stuck to me as is a salmon to the string by which it is carried," Pitch laughed.
Coyote's brother, meanwhile, was at the house, and he wondered why Coyote did not return. When dawn came, he went off to look for him, and for a long time he looked, and then he found Coyote all stuck to Pitch.
So Coyote drilled for fire and when he had fire builded, he took it to Pitch. Then he took hold of his brother and took him away from Pitch, and when he put him safe to the side, he took the fire and burned Pitch and killed him.
So it is in this way that sometimes Pitch teases and quarrels then kills people.
[Page 148] Coyote In a Hollow Tree
Coyote was traveling about all by himself. It began to storm, then rain was falling, and then snow was falling. Then, no further he got because the snow was very deep. He was very cold, and he came to a hollow tree (pine) and he went in.
"Close up!" he said to it, and the tree closed up.
Then, tis said, all winter he was therein. He became hungry after a while, and he did not know how long he had been in the tree. He thought he heard people walking and he shouted "Do open it for me. Is not someone going about over there? Whenever I killed anything, did I not give you some of it to eat? Do open it up for me!"
Then, tis said, after a little time a woodpecker came there. "Bak! Bak! Bak! Bak!" he said. Now he chopped and cut a hole, but this only gave Coyote a headache and so he was left there.
[Page 149] Coyote listened. A long time passed and then again he shouted, "Oh! Whither have you all gone? If perchance I should kill anything after a while, you shall eat of it. Come here and chop for me. Open up for me!"
After this Yellowhammer came to the tree and cut a hole. "Pau! Pau! Pau! Pau!" he said. Then for a long time he made his heart strong. Then Coyote said "Oh, my head is aching and my ears are deafened." Yellowhammer was then angry and he flew away also.
So Coyote called again, and soon the Big Woodpecker came and chopped but Coyote got another headache and shouted, so that Big Woodpecker flew away with his feelings hurt.
So there was Coyote, still sitting in the tree. Now he could see out through the little holes they had chopped.
"Oh, has summer come already?" he asked himself. "Can I have been
[Page 150] here so long?"
So he shouted louder for someone to come and help him, but nobody came.
"Well then" he said "I will cut myself in pieces to go through the little hole they have chopped." So he cut off his arm and threw it out, and then the other arm. Then he cut off his legs and threw them out. Now he pulled out his intestines and threw them out.
(At this point the legend falls away into two separate endings, both of which will be given).
Ending A. About that time Crow flew long, and tis said that he took up Coyote's intestines and flew away with them.
Come back with my intestines, Black Thing!
So, being now out of the tree, he said "Come back together" and all of him did that and he walked on then and was very happy. For the rest, he walked to an area
[Page 151] which had been burned off for the purpose of food gathering, and he started right in to eat grasshoppers but they went right through him and fell out on the ground for he had no intestines.
Now squirrel is there and teases Coyote who looked back and saw his condition. Then Coyote took some Pitch from a pine tree and plugs the hole so the grasshoppers will no longer fall out. Then he went back to the burned area to find food, but now the hot coals sets the Pitch on fire, and squirrel screams to warn him. The Coyote runs to the river and jumps in, to put out the fire.
End B. Now Coyote throws out his head and when it strikes the ground, Crow steals the eyes which were jarred and had rolled out.
Come back here with my eyes Coyote says, but Crow has flown away.
Now, outside the tree, Coyote
[Page 152] says "Come back together" and his body parts do that and he is one Coyote again, all but his eyes.
Perhaps they rolled out when I threw my head, and now they are under a bush Coyote said. Then he got down on four legs and felt all around, but he could not find his eyes.
Now as he is reaching here and there, his hand falls on Snail's back, and now Coyote takes snail's eyes and puts them in his own head. Now he can see. And that is why Snail has no eyes and must always feel his way wherever he goes.
Coyote Visits the 'Land of the Dead'
Wili Youvo (a house there was) [Mrs. Johnson almost always began a legend with these words.]
Coyote lived by himself. But he kept hearing people say "Ghosts are taking away dead people." He heard this for some time, then he
[Page 153] said "Well, I will go there: when people die they are not again to return here: not again are they to come and travel about when they are dead."
Off he went, following the trail of the ghosts. Now someone made a chirping noise. ["Chirping noise" was a sound made by ghosts or other supernatural beings, not always "ear-heard" but often "mind-heard" or "feel-heard."] He did not give ear to that. They kept chirping but he would not listen; only would throw pine fungus at them.
At least he arrived in the land of the ghosts.
Now red-eared Coyote has come. Quick, give him a canoe. someone said. They were dancing the maturation dance for a young lady. Whatever they had been buried with, just these clothes they wore as they danced.
Coyote started to build a fire, and the ghosts shouted "Quick, give him a canoe" so the young girl gave him a canoe.
Quick Coyote, jump into the canoe she said as she stood close by the
[Page 154] shore.
Coyote replied "you shall come to shore where I am," and thus they argued for some time, but soon the girl came to shore.
Coyote was smoking, getting ready to exercise his supernatural powers upon her.
The girl said, once more "Quick, you must jump into the canoe and we will go back" but just then Coyote picked up some fire and set it in to her skirt for she was just a ghost. Then she ran to the canoe and paddled it across and then ran among those others still dancing, and she set fire to them all.
Do do do do do do do said the ghosts while Coyote sat on the other side watching. ["Do do do do (etc)" in a Yana theft-of-fire myth collected by Sapir shows these words occur to indicate pain from contact with fire: (See Sapir, "Yana Texts," Univ. California Pub. American Archaeology, note 50. Also compare to "tu tu tu (etc)" of Klmath due to pain from tingling cold.]
After a while the fire ceased: the
[Page 155] [word missing] were exterminated: Coyote had burned them. Then he spoke "For what reason did you take away people? Now you have died. No more will it be when people die they will come and take others with them. They will die for good. Not any more will anyone see them, when people die." And he went back up the river to his home.
Beaver Ferries the Deer
Coyote and his cousin Beaver lived in a house beside Dagelam (Rogue River). Now the deer kept coming to the other side and calling out, "Paddle a canoe over here, old man" so Beaver took his own canoe and paddled over to get them.
When it got in the middle of the river, tis said, the canoe was broken to pieces because of so many deer all kicking. The deer jumped out and made it the rest of the way, and Beaver gathered up the pieces of his canoe and went ashore, to repair it.
Several days passed by, and
[Page 156]
then one day many more deer came to the river and called out "Paddle a canoe over here, Old Man," so Beaver paddles his canoe over to get the deer and bring them across. Now when they were near the shore, the deer began to jump out, and, again Beaver's canoe was broken to pieces. Again he gathered them up and mended his canoe.
This happened two times again, and as Beaver repaired his canoe each time, he grumbled to himself" "Right there at Hatil is there another canoe. Just above us, just east of Table Rock, at Little Butte Creek is a canoe at Hatil village. [Translated from Takelma place names to show name of that particular village.] Why do they not go there to cross? Or they could get a canoe at Dilomi. [Village near Gold Ray Dam, also name for Table Rock.] It is a very large village by the falls of the river where it is narrow and there are many canoes there. Below
[Page 157]
that at Galyalk village is a very large canoe. Why don't they go somewhere else to cross?" That is how Beaver talked with himself that time.
A few days passed and the canoe was all mended, and then came more deer who called "Paddle a canoe over here, Old Man" and Beaver did as he was told. now again the same thing happened and the canoe was kicked to pieces. [The symbolic fifth time was the final time for beaver.] Beaver was very angry so he turned to the deer and said, "There are many canoes at Galyalk, and Hayal-bokda, and at Gwenpunk and Latgwa. Those canoes can be used. I will never again go across the river to get your deer-brothers when they call 'Paddle a canoe over here Old Man!!"
Then the deer laughed and said "There is no need, Old Man, for we are all" there are no mre deer left across the river now," and they ran off into the forest.
[Page 158] (From Kathlamet Myth of Nikciamtea, Boas, Kathlamet Texts, comes the following lgends and fragments, some accredited to the Shasta, due to Ogden's error, but, clearly Takelman; others suspected of traveling westward with arrival of pre-Columbus ventures on the east coast.)
The White Deer
Long ago Beaver was very sick, and many goyos danced for him. That too the somloholxas sang for him, but Beaver was dead. Then the people said "Beaver is dead."
Now the people were driving in the deer and there was one white deer without any color on him. [All abino animals were sacred to the Takelma.] His tail was white and his shoes. All was white but his eyes were pink.
And then the white deer walked in the house of Beaver. There he stood and looked at Beaver. Now Beaver was dead but it then
[Page 159] was that he opened his eyes. After that the deer walked out of the house.
Then Beaver cried "Don't kill the white deer. He has come down from Mt. Alwilamchadis [this moutain was McLoughlin, bearing a "true name and a "spiritual" name.] He has come to heal me. He is a spirit-power. Do not kill him."
For that reason when the white deer is seen he is not killed, nor is any person who is all white with red eyes. ["Person" meaning animal]
The Rolling Skull
THe Takelma believed in people who consisted of nothing but a skull. They were called Xilam Dagaxda, "dead-person his-head," or Xilam t!egilixi, "dead-person his-skull." These were said to roll around killing
[Page 160] people. Their noise was like "Bum Bum Bum" (as they rolled and bumped the ground) and they cried out "Ximi Ximi" (spoken "chimi chimi") as they rolled. Children were threatened by the call, by parents, if they did not mind.
Once the people heard a skull come rolling along. They were terribly afraid and ran off crying. But one brave person had a ditch made quickly. Then he put hot rocks in the ditch and covered them up so Rolling Skull would not see it. As the people ran away he rolled after them. When they came to the ditch the people jumped over the place, but Rolling Skulls did not see it and he rolled in and was killed. Had it not been for that he would have killed everybody he was then chasing.
[Page 161] Eel The Singer
Eel was said to have sung through the holes of his own body, like a flute. In contests he sang better than the other animals. He was called the best singer of them all.
The Flood
Long ago there were people, all beings were people, birds, duck, deer, bluejays were people, all sorts of things. Buzzards those were people, crows they were all people. Now the Beavers were not ear-holed, while ducks were nose-holed - for that reason did they become Beavers. Then a flood came and covered everything and all beings were submerged. The Beaver got to be at the bottom of the water, he is still there. And all the birds flew up. For that reason they fly up today. Since Beaver was not nose-holed, since he was not ear-holed, for that reason did Beaver get in the water.
[Page 162] Rain Sought
In former days the ground would be covered with ice. Much snow lay on the ground. Then the people only had one place, not frozen, where they could drink. All the people had to drink there. Then one of the old men remembered how to make rain, to drive away the snow and ice. So then the people invoked Raccoon for the thunder and lightning. Coyote would be invoked. They would say "Raccoon Raccoon, cause thy rain to flow. Speak to Coyote. Cause ye two to call rain to flow. We are very cold. We have no water, only ice. Raccoon, cause thy rain to flow." Then it would rain. All the people believed in this formula. For that reason they called Raccoon.
Origin of Fire
Only on the great mountain was fire long ago, before the mountain was a spirit, before Daldal made it into a sprit creature, the great mountain
[Page 163] was fire on top. Then the people were cold, they had no fire, only the mountain had fire.
Then Coyote asked other beings to help him get fire for the people. Now he set his helpers in the woods here and here and here, all the way to the mountain he set his helpers. Then he went to the great mountain and waited. Then the wind blew hard and the ground shook and fire was blown out of the mountain. Then Coyote caught fire and ran down the mountain with it but his tail was caught and burned some. That is why his tail is a little white now. Then he threw it to Wolf who ran with it and threw it to Beaver who ran with it and threw it to to Squirrel. That person put it on his neck and jumped from tree to tree and it scorched his neck so that place is scorched even to this day. Thus fire was passed along until it came to the people who gave some to the tres. That is why fire can be called forth from tree limbs today. [In fire-twirler, making fire by rubbing sticks, etc.}]
[Page 164] Why Coyote is Cunning (attributed to Shasta Indians, in error)
Long ago, Child Maker made all things. Not everything right, people not like now, or animals. Then Daldal came up river and changed many things, making things better. Then the animals all said "Who is best: who is strongest, who is most important?" That's why Daldal made basket-caps.
Then he told all animals to come to a place in the woods tomorrow, there he would give caps to people, the best cap to the most important, and so on.
Then Coyote said he would not sleep, he would be first there to get the best cap. Now panther is hunting and Coyote sees him. Now Old Man Owl is hooting and Coyote hears him. Now Wolf goes about and Coyote hears him. But now Yellowhammer and Woodpecker stir, and Coyote does not know, he has fallen asleep.
This is why Coyote was last to arrive and this is why he was given the
[Page 165] smallest hat of all. He is given the last basket-cap, all the caps are already given. Then Tolsunne looked down and she said "Did he not bring help to the people? Does he not give deer fat to people when sometimes he kills deer? For that reason, he is not bad." Then it was decided that Coyote would be named the most cunning.
Blue Jay in Land of Dead
Now Blue Jay cannot find his sister. All day he hunted, all night he hunted. Then the trees or something chirped ["Chirping" was "mind-hearing or "feel-hearing" to the Takelma who said this was a "true voice."] to him. "Get in a canoe and float, that way you will find her." Now it is dawn and Blue Jay pretends he is dead, then the canoe comes for the dead and he gets in. Then he floats until he sees a village, a large village, but no people are there. While he is walking about he finds his sister.
[Page 166] Where did you come from she said.
I came for you. I am not dead. Are you dead? Blue Jay said.
No, I am not dead. The ghosts have stolen me to cook for them, now I don't know how to get away from here.
Now Blue Jay looks about. Inside the houses he sees only bones. No People. Then when night comes, all the bones came up and were people. Now Blue Jay went fishing with the ghost people but all they catch is leaves and sticks which are their fish. A canoe comes along with men in it and Blue Jay calls to them, but it is dark and they do not hear him. In the boat, all the ghost people have turned to bones. After a while they came back and said to him "Don't be so noisy. When you are noisy it makes us fall down."
Now Blue Jay's sister cooks fish for the ghost people but it is only leaves and sticks. They are in their house now because it is day and they are just bones when it is day.
Blue Jay stirs up the bones, he puts a
[Page 167] baby head on an old man and a man's head on a baby and such as that. Then he went out of the houses.
Now it is day and the bones come together and they look and see themselves with heads and arms not their own. They are very angry. Blue Jay laughs when he sees them and the noise makes them fall down and be bones.
Don't make loud sound they say to Blue Jay. "Put us back, give us our proper parts" they say. Then it is agreed that if the people will let Blue Jay and his sister return to their village, he will do it. This he does when night comes. All the heads he puts back, and all the arms and legs he puts back, then he and his sister get in the canoe provided for them and they paddle back up the river to their village. Thus it is that the Takelma whistles when going about at night. That way, if there are ghost people about to steal them, they will fall down and be bones for a while until he has passed.
[Page 168] Coyote Learn Lesson
Coyote, tis said, grew weary of his life. He had been everywhere and seen everything, so when Evening Star came up over the great mountain [Mt. McLoughlin] he ran up and caught on to Evening Star. He could see many villages, many places. Then he got cold, but Evening Star could do nothing. Now he is colder and he shakes. Now his fingers are so cold he can no longer hold on and so he fell, for many days and nights he fell, and when he struck earth he was so spread out that it took many more days and nights for him to pull himself back together. From this the people know to be happy with what they have. No longer they wish to see new places and do new things. Happy in their villages they were, happy with what they had. At Siletz they are not happy. [Siletz Reservation where the Takelma suffered much from cold and damp climate.]
[Page 169] Dini Dini
These little people, no bigger than small children, were made by a youth seeking his Da-uya. [Da-uya is power granted by one or more spirit-power animals.] Long he stayed in the woods. Now his people, those who live near Jacksonville, sometimes saw him in the woods. "He has gone mad" they said. "Let us leave this place." So they left and went back to Sam's Valley.
Now the boy has his da-uya and he returns to his village. There are no people, no cooking baskets. There is no food. He is hungry.
The Talsunne tells him how to make a great blanket. This he makes of rushes and fur. Now he dips the corner in Beaver river [Beaver Creek is Bear Creek.] and shakes it on land and fishes fall out. Again he dips it and then cooking pots and fire falls out. After he has eaten he is lonely. Again he dips his blanket and shares it on the land
[Page 170] and little people fall out. Thus were Dini Dini brought forth.
Now far off in Sam's Valley the people see his fire smoke. "He is not dead. He is not mad. No mad man catches fish and cooks them," his mother speaks.
Then his people go back to their village and he is no longer lonely. All the Dini Dini are afraid of his people and so they hid in the forest.
Rock Old Woman
When the great world was set, Children Maker made many things. There were good and bad people and there were good and bad shaman-goyos. At that time many spirits were given power to make things better. Before he left, Children Maker stood near Leaf Creek and talked with Rock Old Woman.
You shall be a goyo-wisher, and if a bad shaman harm people, you will sing for that shaman he said, and he gave her a song to attract bad
[Page 171] shamans.
At that time, Alwilamchadis [or Mt. McLoughlin] was not tied to earth as it is now, it could move about and so it was made to be Rock Old Woman's helper.
Then there was a bad goyo who mind-poisoned people, he made it snow too long so the people died. Rock Old Woman sings her song "Du deme a wit, du deme a wit" she sang and the bad shaman was drawn to her.
Smoke my pipe she said to him, and when he smoked her rock pipe he died. Now Rock Old Woman called to her helper and the mountain came. "I have destroyed the bad goyo, come and celebrate with me" she said.
So the mountain tied his hair up in a knot in a bun and put white dust on his forehead. Even now the white clouds are always his top knot bun, and all winter he wears white paint on his forehead, like Grizzly Bear.
Then he took up the arms of the bad goyo and danced around, waving
[Page 172] them in the air, then he threw these into Rock Old Woman's basket-bucket and told her to put heated rocks in and cook them with her stirring paddle. This she did.
Now he danced about and waved the legs of the evil goyo, then threw them in the cooking basket. Rock Old Woman kept putting in heated rocks with her tongs and stirring with her stirring paddle.
Now Daldal [Daldal, Takelma culture hero, later turned himself into dragon-fly.] has come up the river, changing things, making things better. Then he saw Rock Old Woman cooking the evil goyo.
What are you doing here? he said.
Well, we have destroyed the evil shaman and we have 'danced' him and now we are cooking him.
Daldal knew they were planning to eat the evil goyo so he said "He will poison you if you eat flesh of the goyo, therefore I must change you."
That he did. Now she is a rock with all her utensils rocks beside her. She has not lost her power but no longer does
[Page 173] she move about nor dance things nor cook with her tongs and stirring paddle. She is still there just as Daldal made her to be.
Then Daldal set the mountain down over to the east and made him to be a mountain and tied him to the earth so he could no longer move about. Then when Children Maker made Takinne, she went there to live, on top of Alwilamchadis so that mountain would not be lonely.
Now he sits there, still not moving, not dancing, with his hair up and with white powder on his face.
Daldal went on up the river and changed himself into Mt. Ashland but he sometimes comes back as dragonfly.
The Evil Goyo
When Takunne first made acorns to grow on the oak trees, there was an evil goyo who was jealous of her power. He said "Why should Raw people [people not shamans] have acorns?" This is
[Page 174] the way he thought. "Acorns should be for goyos only" he thought. So he went up on little Wilam-cha [or Roxy-Ann mountain] mountain and gathered much wind in his chest. "Pooooh, Pooooh" he blew, like that. "Pooooh, Pooooh" he blew five times and then he blew all the acorns off of the trees.
Now when all this was happening, Takunne was "singing" and twining a basket in her home atop Alwilamchadis. "Who is that going "Pooooh, Pooooh"" she asked. Then she looked out and saw the evil goyo blowing off the acorns she had caused to grow.
Evil man, now you think the people will go hungry she said. She was very angry, then she came and got the bad goyo and destroyed him. "I will make dried venison of him" she said. This she did. There was so much cix-xum [Takelma word for jerky.] being made that her drying racks were stretched out very far, up one side of the
[Page 175] mountain and down the other. And the smoke from her drying fires could be seen on the mountain.
Now there were two lazy brothers who lived at Hatil [Located at the place where Butte Creek flows into Rogue River.] There were many women and children there who did much work, but the lazy brothers would not hunt or prepare food.
One day as they sat and dreamed, they looked up and saw the smoke and Talsunne's "drying rack. "Talsunne has made much cix-xum" they said. "Let us go and get some of the meat for she won't care." Then they went.
Something chirped to Talsunne and she knew the lazy brothers were coming, and why. When they walked into her house she did not look at them but kept her back to the fire.
You have much meat the brothers said. Talsunne said nothing, only sat with her back to the fire. After a while she put some of the meat in a basket-plate and reached
[Page 176] around, without looking, and gave it to the lazy brothers.
Now the food is probably being eaten she said inside of her. And it was true. The brothers ate it all and had licked their fingers. "Now they are getting sick" she thought. Then she looked over her shoulder and it was true, the brothers were very ill and they had turned black.
At this time Talsunne took up some water in her mouth and blew a spray over the men. "Phewish, Phewish" she blew. Then the men were made well. "So what did you think?" she asked. "Did you say to yourself that Talsunne has much meat and you could eat without working?"
Then she held some cix-xum in her hand and said "This is poison-meat, the flesh of the evil goyo who blew away my . Not until Sun has worked long is it made into dried meat, good to it."
[Page 177] The two lazy brothers were glad they were well now, but they were afraid and said they were sorry.
Now you may return to Hatil, but you must come here in the fall and bear burden for this thing you have done. Thus it was. The two lazy brothers then made many trips with great burden-baskets, carrying cix-xum down from the mountain so the people would not go hungry. This is what happened when the evil goyo blew the acorns off of the oak trees. In this way Talsunne transformed the meat of the evil goyo into cix-xum for the people to eat, and the lazy brothers carried it down from the mountain for people to eat.