As I Remember It: Teachings (Ɂəms tɑɁɑw) from the Life of a Sliammon Elder

Mink and Cloud

Today I’m going to tell some legends, stories about qɑyχ – he was the Mink in the animal kingdom. But to us in the legends he was known as qɑyχ, the trickster, the one that was always getting into trouble. He was always doing things that was not acceptable, or not appropriate. And he had many wives. He was always attracted to others that were not suitable to him. So when he would see someone that caught his eye, who was beautiful and very pretty, or just sounded good, or just, you know, anything that attracted his attention, he wanted to marry that person right away, or that thing right away. And first of all I will start with the Cloud. One day he was lookin’ up there, beautiful sunny day, but there were huge clouds, just white – just like cotton, huge balls of cotton up in the sky. And he was so attracted to that, and he said, “Oh, Cloud! You are so beautiful. I just love you.” And, “Oh, I want to go up there! I really want to be up there with you.” And Cloud says, “Oh, for goodness’ sakes. I don’t think so. Why would you want to be with me? Why do you wanna get married to me when you are so different? You are a little animal. You belong on the ground, and I’m up here in the sky.” And he said, “Oh, that’s not a problem. I can get up there. It’s not a problem. I can live up there with you.” So after a lot of persuading the Cloud – and he was very persistent, very, very persistent – Cloud says, “What will you do, then? When we break apart. The breeze will come and we, as clouds, separate, we move.” And he says, “Oh, I will jump from one cloud to the other. I will manage. Don’t worry about that. I will manage.” He had an answer for everything. So he got up there. You know, he’s so happy. He’s just there laying on his back, floatin’ around. Just loved it. He was on cloud nine. So before too long, a breeze came. The Cloud started to separate and drift apart. And there was qɑyχ, who’s jumping from one to the other. Then he’d jump to the next one. And on and on he went. Finally, there was nowhere else to jump. And he fell. Fell down to the earth, fell to the ground.

So he was knocked out. He was unconscious for a long time. About two days he was laying there, totally unconscious. And kids used to follow him around. The children used to follow him. They were fascinated by him. They just were always in awe of what qɑyχ was about, and the things he can do and get away with and – so he was a very poor example, poor role model for children that watched him and followed him. And they came upon his body, he’s laying there. He’d been dead for quite some time. The children thought, “Oh my gosh! Look at him! Look at qɑyχ, he’s dead. He’s got maggots all over.” And at that, qɑyχ jumped up! Opened his eyes. He’s spitting and sputtering and says to the children, “You go away, children! You don’t have to be followin’ me around all the time. I was just having a little nap here. So go away! Go home!” So off qɑyχ went. He wasn’t about to admit that what he had done, fallen out of the sky after marrying Cloud. And that didn’t work out, of course, because Cloud and Mink are too different to have a union like that.

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