Sunday, May 4, 2014

Alaska: Origin of the Winds

This story is part of the Alaskan Legends unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of Alaska, edited by Katharine Berry Judson (1911).


Origin of the Winds
Eskimo (Lower Yukon)

[LIBRIVOX AUDIO]

A LONG time ago a man and his wife had no children. So one night the man went out of the house to find a solitary tree that grew on the tundra. First he saw a long track of bright light, like that made by the moon shining on the snow. It led across the tundra. So far, far along the trail of bright light travelled the man until he saw a beautiful tree, all alone, shining in the bright light. He took out his hunting knife, cut off part of the trunk, and went home again over the bright trail.

When the man reached home, he carved a boy doll from the wood and his wife made fur clothes for it. Then the man carved little wood dishes from the scraps of wood. The wife set the doll on the bench opposite the entrance, in the place of honor. She placed before it food and water.

That night, when all was dark, they heard low whistling sounds. The woman said, "Do you hear that? It was the doll." When they made a light, they saw that the doll had eaten the food and drunk the water. They saw that its eyes moved.

In the morning, the doll was gone. The man and his wife could not find it, but they saw the tracks of the boy doll leading away from the door. The tracks followed the direction of the trail of light which the man had followed the night before. So the man and his wife went into the house.

But Doll followed the bright path until he came to the edge of day, where the sky comes down to the earth. There were holes in the sky wall covered with gut-skin.

In the east, Doll saw the gut-skin cover over the hole in the sky wall bulging inward. Doll stopped and said, "It is very quiet in here. I think a little wind will make it better." Doll drew his knife and cut the cover loose about the edge of the hole. A strong wind blew through, bringing with it a live reindeer. Looking through the hole, Doll saw another world, just like the earth. Then he drew the cover loosely over the hole, and said to East Wind, "Sometimes blow hard, sometimes lightly. Sometimes do not blow at all."

Doll walked along the sky wall to another opening at the southeast. The gut-skin cover bulged inward. Then Doll cut the cover loose at the edges, and a great gale swept in. It brought reindeer, trees, and bushes. Then Doll fastened the cover lightly and said, "Sometimes blow hard, sometimes lightly. Sometimes do not blow at all."

Then Doll came to a hole in the south, and the gutskin cover bulged inward. He cut the edges loose and a hot wind rushed in. It brought rain, and spray from the great salt sea which lay beyond the sky hole on that side. Then Doll closed the opening lightly and said to South Wind, "Sometimes blow hard, sometimes lightly. Sometimes do not blow at all."

Doll walked along the sky wall to the west. There he saw another opening, covered by gut-skin. So he cut the edges loose, and West Wind swept in, bringing with him rain, with sleet and spray from the gray ocean. Then Doll fastened the edges of the gut-skin loosely, and said to West Wind, "Sometimes blow hard, sometimes lightly. Sometimes do not blow at all."

So Doll passed along the sky wall to the northwest. When he cut the edges of the gut-skin covering, a blast of cold wind rushed in, bringing snow and ice. Doll became cold; he almost froze. Therefore Doll closed the hole quickly, saying, "Sometimes blow hard, sometimes lightly. Sometimes do not blow at all."

Again Doll went along the sky wall to the north, but it became so cold he had to leave it. So he went toward the centre of the earth, away from the sky wall, until he saw the opening to the north. Then he went to the hole in the sky wall, but so great was the cold that Doll feared to cut the strings. He waited. Then he cut the strings quickly. The terrible North Wind swept in, bringing with him great masses of snow and ice. North Wind strewed the snow and ice all over the earth plain. Then Doll closed the hole very quickly, yet he fastened it loosely. He said to North Wind, "Sometimes blow hard, sometimes lightly. Sometimes do not blow at all."

Then Doll travelled into the midst of the earth plain. He looked up and saw the sky arch, resting upon long, slender poles, like a tepee, but of beautiful blue material. Then Doll went back to the village where he was made.






(800 words)









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