Au Pays de L’Ours Noir: Part 27

Excerpt from Au Pays de l’Ours Noir,

Dispatches of a Missionary 1897, by Father

Adrien Gabriel Morice

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Translated by Neil Wylie and Garry Girvan

Stories of the Babines and Carriers

The Babine cosmogony, identical to that of the Carriers, does not attribute the creation of the universe to a supreme being, or it remains silent on this subject. It speaks not of creation but of the distribution of the most necessary elements to mankind: light, fire and water.

As these notions, more and more discredited still reign among a number of indigenous, I think it permissible to reproduce here, the part of their legends which explains their ideas on the origin of these elements. Here it is such as the natives tell it.

A long time ago a deep darkness reigned throughout the earth, except in the lodging of an old man, a toeneza who alone possessed light, fire and water. That is why men had been miserable and incessantly longed for light. Many a time they begged the old man to give them a portion of it, but he was deaf to their prayers. Finally they resolved to seize it, in spite of him.

To this end they entered with all their animals into the lodge of the old man and began to sing, hoping to take it from him by making a racket and by annoying him with their chants. Each had his own chant and the young of the fox (kaih pa tso, it cries for the light of day) repeated incessantly kaih, kaih, kaih, convinced that in this way he would end up obtaining yoekaih or the light of day. But the old man was stubborn. However, the assembly used the name of light so many times that it began to climb imperceptible into the firmament the way its appears each morning.

The old man saw it and immediately cried: ‘Loeyul…! Let the …not be!’

Immediately the light descended back into the horizon.

However the young fox did not stop repeating kaih, kaih, kaih, and men as well as animals were fighting to see who could sing the loudest with the hope of tiring the old man and thus forcing him to grant them light.

Again the horizon began to be illuminated by ever increasing fires. The light was illuminating a large part of the heavens when the old man, perceiving it, became troubled and without taking the time to think cried out in error: ‘Yulkat’ Let there be light!’

Since then the light has always existed.

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