THE CHINOOKAN TRIBES (cont'd)
Coyote next came near to Nihhlúidih, and learned of a woman who every time a man came wished him to marry her, but each one she destroyed by throwing him from the cliff on which she lived. "Well," he said, "I will go and marry her." He made five long sharp bones and five stones and went with them toward her house. She was always watching for travellers. Coyote saw a person ahead of him and started to go round her, but she came to meet him; he then went off on the other side, but she again intercepted him. He knew then that this was the woman. He had been told that when she met any man she immediately made love to him and took him home along a steep trail, always preceding the man. Once at the top, she would lie down next to the wall - the house was on a ledge - so that the man would have to lie on the outside where he could be easily pushed over the cliff. When she began to make love to Coyote, he burst into tears, and said that it made him feel sad, because his dear wife had been dead only a few days. She said, "I love you, and would like to live with you." He cried all the louder and said he could not think of such things. Then she took him by the arm and coaxed him along until he followed. When they approached the trail, he quickened his pace and reached the foot first. He mounted ahead of her, and lay down next to the wall, so that the woman had to lie near the edge. When she caressed him, he took one of the stones and pushed it into her body, but immediately there was a sound of grinding and the stone was worn off up to its end. He thrust another and another, until all the five were used up. Then he used the five bones. All the time she was weakening, and in the end, having gradually pushed her over near the edge, he suddenly shoved her off. She struck the bottom and was crushed. Coyote went down and examined her body, which he found to be made of flint. He said to the body: "That is not the way to do, destroying people as you have been doing. There will never be any such person as you again." The spot where the body was crushed is the place whwer the people of Nihhlúidih used to get their flint. Even now the spot is covered in flint.
Coyote now proceeded to a village where he was told that an atat$aacute;hlia, a female monster, and her husband, Owl, were carrying the people away and cooking them in a pit that they might eat them, and Coyote knew that he must change that. After thinking long he procured some green fir cones, cut them into bits, and dried them. He strung them, tied the strings around his legs, arms and neck, in close rows, and threw his robe over them. Thus adorned, he went to the place where the monster usually was to be seen. She came to intercept him and kept in front of him, no matter in what direction he turned. Every time he stirred, the dry stones rattled. She said, "Where are you going?" He answered: "You see where the sun comes out in the morning? That is where I am going. My wife died a few days ago and I feel sad and do not wish to remain at home. She was a good wife. So I do not like to talk to women yet." He started to dance, and the cones rattled loudly. She ran up to take his arm, but he eluded her. Again she tried, and he pushed her with his staff and told her not to touch him. She asked, "How did you become so that you could make that sound when you dance?" "You need not asked that," he replied, "because I would not tell you, no matter how much you might pay me. If I told you that, you would never have to hunt for food, but only dance thus and the people would come to you. Then you would have only the work of cooking them." He started to leave her, but she came up with him again, and when she asked him once more how he made that sound, he at last, with apparent reluctance, consented to disclose the secret, provided that she would promise to tell him the source of her own power. To this she agreed, and he said: "Then I will tell you how to dance and make your bones rattle as I do mine. I had my body competely covered with pitch, eyes and all. Then I was put on the fire. The pitch burned over my skin, and my bones were gradually roasted dry. That is whey they rattle, because they are dry and charred. Hear my head!" and he shook it. "Hear my legs!" and he shook them. "Good!" said the atat$aacute;hlia. "I am glad to know this, and I shall do it. Let us go up and you can work on me." She took him up to the pit where she was in the habit of cooking her vicitms. All around the edge of this great hole sat her captive people, old and young, awaiting their turn to be roasted. All were wailing, and everywhere about the pit were piles of the bones of those devoured by the atat$aacute;hlia and Owl. Coyote told the waiting victims to go into the woods and collect fresh pitch, and they scattered among the trees, soon returning with quantities of it. Stones were heated, and Coyote proceeded to cover the atat$aacute;hlia from head to foot with pitch, being careful not to leave a single bare spot, and all the while shifting her body to make sure that no spot should be missed. "You must agree that I am to be the judge of when you are done," said Coyote. "I will punch you arms and your head with this pole, and in that way I can tell when the work is done, because your bones will rattle." The atat$aacute;hlia stood beside the roaring fire, and Coyote pushed her into it. Immediately she began to blaze. Coyote quickly gave each of five men a forked stick, one to hold her down by the neck, the others by the legs and arms. They pinned her down, and whenever Coyote ordered her to be turned, the rolled her over. When the pitch had burned out of her mouth, she cried, "I am burning! Take me out!" but Coyote only reminded her that he was the judge of when it was time for her to be taken out. "This will punish you for roasting people!" he said. In a short time the creature was dead, and Coyote told the people they were free to go home, and as they ran away they were happy, and sang. Soon after this Coyote saw Owl, the husband, coming home, leading a great number of captives. He picked up a handful of ashes, threw it at Owl, and said: "This is not the way to do. It is wrong to roast these people. There is going to be another kind of people here, and this must stop. I have killed your wife because she did it. From now on you will be nothing but a bird, and your name will be Owl, and you will live among these rocks. Once in a great while you will be heard, and when you are, some one will die." An owl's voice is always sad because he is mourning for his wife, and his feathers are mottled because of the ahses.
Coyote continued his travels, sometimes doing right, at other times making mistakes, and all things, good or bad, were made so by him.
As he came to a place now called Skin, he saw many people who did not act right and had foolish ways. All wanted to be chiefs at once. "It is not right that these people should be so proud. I will humiliate them," he said. So he climbed up on the rock above the village and urinated upon them until they were drenched. The people of Skin speak differently from the Wishham, and this is the reason.
EDWARD S. CURTIS
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