Kalitan, Our Little Alaskan Cousin eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 77 pages of information about Kalitan, Our Little Alaskan Cousin.

“Thlinkits pretty good,” he said.  “Tanana good girl.  She learned much good at the mission school, marry Tah-ge-ah, and make people better.  She can weave blankets, make fine baskets, and keep house like a white girl.”  “She’s all right,” said Ted.  “But, Kalitan, what is a potlatch?”

“Potlatch is a good-will feast,” said his friend, “Very fine thing, but white men do not like.  Say Indian feasts are all bad.  Why is it bad when an Indian gives away all his goods for others?  That is what a great potlatch is.  When white men give us whiskey and it is drunk too much, then it is very bad.  But Tyee will not have that for Tanana’s feast.  We will drink only quass[8], as my people made it before they learned evil drinks and fire-water, which make them crazy.”

[Footnote 8:  Quass is a native drink, harmless and acid, made with rye and water fermented.  The bad Indians mix it with sugar, flour, dried apples, and hops, and make a terribly intoxicating drink.]

“I guess Tyee Klake was right when he said all men were alike,” said Ted, sagely.  “It seems to me that there are good and bad ones in all countries.  It’s a pity you have had such bad white ones here in Alaska, but I guess you have had good ones, too.”

“Plenty good, plenty bad, Thlinkit men and Boston men,” said Kalitan, “all same.”



“Once a small girl child went by night to bring water.  In the skies above she saw the Moon shining brightly, pale and placid, and she put forth her tongue at it, which was an evil thing, for the Moon is old, and a Thlinkit child should show respect for age.  So the Moon would not endure so rude a thing from a girl child, and it came down from the sky and took her thither.  She cried out in fear and caught at the long grass to keep herself from going up, but the Moon was strong and took her with her water-bucket and her bunch of grass, and she never came back.  Her mother wept for her, but her father said:  ’Cease.  We have other girl children; she is now wedded to the Moon; to him we need not give a potlatch.’

“You may see her still, if you will look at the Moon, there, grass in one hand, bucket in the other, and when the new Moon tips to one side and the water spills from the clouds and it is the months of rain, it is the bad Moon maiden tipping over her water-bucket upon the earth.  No Thlinkit child would dare ever to put her tongue forth at the Moon, for fear of a like fate to that of Squiance, the Moon maiden.”

Tanana’s voice was soft and low and she looked very pretty as she sat in the moonlight at the door of the hut and told Kalitan and Ted quaint old stories.  Ted was delighted with her tales, and begged for another and yet another, and Tanana told the quaint story of Kagamil.

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Kalitan, Our Little Alaskan Cousin from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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