Book: Tsimshian Texts
Author: Franz Boas





Tsimshian Texts By Franz Boas

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 73
Publication Date: 1912

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Summary:

This is a collection of texts from the Tsimshian, who lived (and continue to reside) on the northwestern coast of British Columbia. The first three are tales of culture heroes and heroines, far longer than most texts of this kind. These first three stories, with legendary quests, mysterious supernatural beings and atmospheric descriptions, remind one of Icelandic sagas. Following these are a couple of short animal rivalry stories. The last item is a notable deluge myth which appears to have very little if any European influence.



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Excerpt:

Well, when a great famine reached [touched] the people of the Skeena, then a chieftainess was also among the starving people, and a young woman who had married a man of a town way up the river. Her mother, however, was in her own village at Canyon. That town is way down the river, that was when the great famine reached [touched] the villages.

Then the husband of the chieftainess died, and the husband of the young woman also died of starvation, for the starvation in the villages was really great: therefore many died. Then one day the chieftainess talked to herself when she was hungry: therefore she said, "I remember when I used to meet my daughter." Then the young woman also said, "I remember (think) when I meet my mother when I go down the river, when I go near her, then I shall eat food, then I shall have enough to eat."

(Well, the famine struck [the people] every year in the winter, when it was very cold. It was that which cleared off all the people: therefore they died.)

Therefore one day the chieftainess arose to go on the ice to the young woman. On the same day the young woman also arose to go also to her mother. Therefore she also went on the ice. Then they met between the two towns on the ice. They were both very hungry, (she) and her daughter. There was nothing to eat. Both were left (alone) by death, (she) and her mother. Then they sat down and wailed and wept because of their husbands, who had died of starvation.

When they had cried for some time, they stopped wailing. Then they went ashore to make a camp at the foot of a large tree. Then the young woman went about. Then she found one rotten hawberry. Then she gave to her mother one half of the rotten hawberry, and she herself ate (the other) half.

Then she made a small house of branches, and they began to drill fire to make a fire in a small house of branches, where they lay down. Before they lay down, they made a great fire to lie down warmly. Then they slept well. On one side of the fire the old woman, on her part, lay down with her back to the fire; and on (the other) side the little noble woman, on her part, lay down; they were with their backs towards the fire.

When it was midnight, a man entered (and went) to the little noble woman. He went to her and lay down, and they lay down together. The old woman did not notice it. Early in the morning, the young man arose and went out. Then they, on their part, saw that their fire was about to be extinguished.

Then the young noble woman arose again (and went) to get bark. When she went out, she heard the one sing whose name is Hats!Enâ's. (It is like a robin, but it is not he. When somebody hears Hats!Enâ's speak, he has good luck with whatever he wishes. That is the reason why the name of that bird is Hats!Enâ's ["Good Luck"]).

Then the young noble woman went out to gather bark. Then she went to the place where a large rotten spruce-tree was standing. She took a very long stick as a means of breaking off the bark. When she began to break off the bark, the bark of the great spruce-tree fell down. Then when she gathered up [among what she was going to gather up], behold! she found a little squirrel among the bark. Then she returned to her little house of branches, being of good heart. Then she made a large fire. Then she roasted the little squirrel. Then they ate it; it was enough for one day for them.

When it was morning again she went again to the place where she had been before to get bark. She took again a very long means of breaking off bark. Then the bark fell down again. Then she gathered it up again. Behold! she found [again] a large grouse among the bark that she was gathering. She returned happy. Then she roasted it also; it was enough for them for one day.

It was morning again, and the little noble woman went again; she went again to the foot of the large spruce-tree where she had been before to gather bark. Again she took a very long stick to break off the bark. The bark fell down again, and she put it together again. Then she found a large porcupine. She took it down and gave it to her mother. Then her mother took the large porcupine. Then she burnt it over, and it was enough for them for two days. It was morning again, and she went again to gather bark. Then she found a large beaver among the bark. She took it down and gave it to her mother. Then her mother dried the meat of the beaver.

It was morning again, and she went again to get bark. Then she found a large mountain-goat among the bark. She called to her mother to help her, and they took down the large mountain-goat. Then they increased (the size) of the house they had made of branches to dry the meat of the mountain-goat.

It was morning again, and she went again to gather bark. Then she broke off again the bark. The bark of the large spruce-tree fell down again. Verily, she saw a large black bear (falling) down with it. Again she called to her mother to help her. Then they took the large black bear down to their house. Then they increased again (the size) of their house for [a house for] drying meat.

It was morning again, and she went again to the place where she had been before to gather bark. Then she found a large grizzly bear. Again she called her mother to come and [towards] help her, because she could not move the large grizzly bear. It was very fat. Therefore they cut it up [spread it]. Then they just took down the meat. Then their house was full [inside across] of dried meat.