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Monday, 9 February 2015

Two Aleut legends

Two Aleut legends

Hi dear friends and followers.

We are almost finished with our tour of the United States in search of legends, myths, and stories told by its first inhabitants, the Native Americans. The legends from the peoples of Alaska and Hawa'ii remain. I suppose that one could take weeks in research and retelling such stories but I am presenting an overview as opposed to an in-depth examination.

In Alaska there are seven main First Peoples: Aleuts, Yupiks, Inupiaks, Athabascan, Tshimtshian, Haida, and Tlingit. Today I present to you two legends from the Aleuts, those people who made their living from the ocean while living on the island archipelago we call the Aleutians.

The smallest group of Alaska Natives, the Aleuts, made their living from the rich sea that surrounded their home on the Aleutian Islands. Their food, clothing, shelter, heat, and tools came from creatures living in the ocean or along its shorelines. Exceptional mariners, the Aleuts sometimes paddled hundreds of miles in skin-covered canoes, (kayaks), called bidarkas to trade, visit, hunt, or stage daring raids on enemy villages. Ducks, otters, whales, and fish were among the animals used by the Aleuts.

Here are the two legends. I like the second one better.

The Fight for a Wife

Once upon a time there was a boy who lived all alone, far from other people. He had a habit of lifting stones, at first small ones, then larger and larger ones as he grew and became stronger. When he was old enough to marry, he decided to go out in the world to get a wife, peaceably if he could, but if not, then by fighting for her. 

After several days' paddling, he came by night to a village. In one hut he saw a light, so he went there and found a young girl who gave him something to eat and a place to sleep. The whole village heard that a stranger had arrived. Soon an old man presented himself and shouted through the window of the hut: "Our champion would like to try his strength with the new arrival." The girl explained the meaning of the challenge to the young man and advised him to accept.

The first test consisted of a hunt for beluga. Watched by all the people, the village champion and the stranger went off, each in his own boat. In the evening when they returned, it was the newcomer who had killed the largest number of the animals and was declared the winner.

On the following day another challenge was delivered in the same manner. This time the contest was a boat race around a large island facing the village. When the rivals met on the beach, their bidarkas (boats) were side by side. Between them was placed a bow and arrow, to be used by the victor on the vanquished.

The two men got away together, and for a time the contest was in doubt as first one and then the other took the lead. But as the race progressed, the local champion gradually drew ahead of his rival until they lost sight of one another. So certain of the outcome were the old men on the shore that they did not even stay to see the finish. But the newcomer spoke to his boat, which was made of beluga skin, and commanded it to change into the beluga, swim under the water, and overtake the other boat. 

When the young man was close to shore, he and his boat came up, assumed their usual shapes, and landed. When the local champion had lost sight of his rival, he had slowed up because he felt certain of victory. 

Great was his astonishment and fright when he saw the young stranger on the beach with the bow in his hand. He had little time to think, for the twice-victorious hero shot him.
While the hero was eating supper at the young girl's home, an old man came to ask him to go to the beach and withdraw the arrow from the defeated champion, since no one else could do it. The newcomer went to the beach and pulled the arrow out, and the villager became well again.

On the evening of the third day, the young man was challenged once more, this time to a wrestling match in the village Large House. In its center was a fenced-in pit containing many bones and shaman worms. The victor was to throw his opponent into the pit, where the worms would eat him. Life, love, glory hung on the outcome, and both men fought hard and long. In this contest the young man's strength, derived from lifting stones, proved decisive. With a skillful movement he picked the local champion off his feet and heaved him into the pit, and the village declared the young man to be the new village champion. He went to the home of his defeated rival to claim the spoils of war, which included two wives, furs, and all the luxurious possessions of a rich man. 

The Girl Who Married the Moon

Long ago there were two girl cousins who lived in a large tribal village. Those evenings when the moon was out, they liked to go to the beach and play. Claiming the moon as their husband, they spent the night gazing and making love to the man in the moon.

For shelter they had propped up a bidarka (large skin boat), and during the night they changed positions several times, so they could always face the moon. In the morning, upon returning home, their parents always questioned them about their whereabouts. The girls told them how they had watched the moon until it passed from sight. Many of their family heard them tell how much they loved the moon, always wishing they were moons.

One evening, with other young people of their tribe, they amused themselves on the beach. Night came and the others returned to their homes, but the two girls remained. When the moon went away out of their sight, one complained, "Why does the moon hide so suddenly? I like to play with him and enjoy his moonlight." "I, too," said the other. It was not yet midnight, and the moon was already behind the clouds.

Up to now they had not noticed howdishevelled their appearance was from playing. They became startled when they heard the voice of a young man as he approached them. "You have been professing your love for me," he said. "I have observed you and know you love me, therefore, I have come for you. But since my work is very hard, I can only take one of you--the more patient one."

Each begged to be chosen. He said, "I have decided to take both of you. Now close your eyes and keep them closed." So he grabbed each by the hair, and the next moment they were rushing through the air. The patience of one wore thin. As she opened her eyes, she felt herself drop down, down, down, leaving her hair behind in his hands. She found herself beside the bidarka where she had left it.

The patient cousin kept her eyes closed the entire time, and in the morning found herself in a comfortable barrabara, the home of the moon. There she lived as the wife of the moon, happy in loving him. Generally he slept during the day, as he worked all night.

Frequently he went away in the morning and returned in the evening. Sometimes he was gone from mid-day until midnight. His irregular schedule puzzled his wife. But he never offered an explanation to her of what he did in his absence.

His silence and indifference piqued the young bride. She waited as long as she could, until one day she said, "You go out every day, every evening, every night, and you never tell me what you do. What kinds of people do you associate with, while I am left behind?"

"I am not with other people, for there are not my kind of people here," he said. "I have important work to do, and I cannot be with you all the time."

"If your work is so hard, can you take me with you to help you sometimes?" she asked.

"My work is too hard for you," he replied. "I brought you up here, because I had no rest when you were down there. You and your lovely cousin were constantly staring at me and teasing me. Now stop your foolishness, you cannot help me. Stay home and be happy for me when I do return."

"Surely, you don't expect me to stay home all the time." She began to weep. "If I cannot go with you, can I go out by myself occasionally?"

"Of course, go anywhere you like, except in the two homes you see yonder. In the corner of each there is a curtain, under which you must never look." After this warning, he left his barrabara, and that night he looked paler than usual.

Later, she went out for a walk. Although she went far and in different directions, she saw no people. She tried several short trails, and on each saw a man lying face down. It gave her pleasure to kick them to disturb them. Each would turn and look at her with his one bright, sparkling eye and cry out, "Why do that to me? I am working and busy." She kicked all of them until she tired and ran home.

On her way she saw the two forbidden barrabaras, and she just had to look inside. A curtain hid a corner in the first. She couldn't resist the desire to look under the curtain. There she beheld a half-moon, a quarter-moon, and a small piece of moon. In the second barrabara, she found a full moon, one almost full, and another more than half-full.

Thinking about the beautiful pieces, she decided it would be such fun and no harm to try on one to see how she would feel. The one almost full pleased her most, so she placed it on one side of her face and there it stuck. She cried, "Ai, Ai, Y-a-h, Ai, Ai, Yah!" She tugged and pulled but the moon would not come off. For fear her husband would soon arrive, she hastened home, threw herself on the bed, and covered that side of her face.

There he found her, complaining that her face pained her. He suspected the real cause and went out to investigate. Upon his return he asked her about the missing moon. "Yes," she admitted. "I tried it on for fun, and now I cannot take it off." He laughed and laughed at her. Gently he pulled it off for her.

Seeing his good humor, she told him of her eventful day, especially the sport she had with the one-eyed people scattered about the sky.

"They are stars," he said reprovingly. "Since of your own free will you put on this moon, you can wear it from now on and help me in my hard work. I will finish my rounds with the full moon, and after that you can start in and finish out the month while I rest."

To this happy arrangement she consented gladly. Since that time the two have shared the hard work between them--the man in the moon and his lady in the moon.

Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. have a great Week.

ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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