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.

“How do you get these totems?” demanded Ted.

“Clan totems we take from our parents, but a man may choose his own totem.  Before he becomes a man he must go alone into the forest to fast, and there he chooses his totem, and he is brother to that animal all his life, and may not kill it.  When he comes forth, he may take part in all the ceremonies of his tribe.”

“Why, it is something like knighthood and the vigil at arms and escutcheons, and all those Round-Table things,” exclaimed Ted, in delight, for he dearly loved the stirring tales of King Arthur and his knights and the doughty deeds of Camelot.

“Tell us about that,” said Kalitan, so Ted told them many tales in the moonlight, as they sat beneath the shadows of the quaint and curious totem-poles of Kalitan’s tribe.



Teddy’s month upon the island stretched out into two.  His father came and went, finding the boy so happy and well that he left him with an easy mind.  Ted’s fair skin was tanned to a warm brown, and, clad in Indian clothes, save for his aureole of copper-coloured hair, so strong a contrast to the straight black locks of his Indian brothers, he could hardly be told from one of the island lads who roamed all day by wood and shore.  They called him “Yakso pil chicamin,"[12] and all the village liked him.

[Footnote 12:  Copper hair.]

Tanana’s marriage-feast was held, and she and Tah-ge-ah went to housekeeping in a little hut, where the one room was as clean and neat as could be, and not a bit like the dirty rooms of some of the natives.  Tanana spent all her spare time weaving beautiful baskets, for her slim fingers were very skillful.  Some of the baskets which she made out of the inner bark of the willow-tree were woven so closely that they would hold water, and Teddy never tired of watching her weave the gay colours in and out, nor of seeing the wonderful patterns grow.  Tahgeah would take them to the mainland when she had enough made, and sell them to the travellers from the States.  Meantime Tah-ge-ah himself was very, very busy carving the totem-pole for his new home, for Tanana was a chieftain’s daughter, and he, too, was of high caste, and their totem must be carved and stand one hundred feet high beside their door, lest they be reproached.

Ted also enjoyed seeing old Kala-kash carve, for he was the finest carver among the Indians, and it was wonderful to see him cut strange figures out of bone, wood, horn, fish-bones, and anything his gnarled old fingers could get hold of, and he would carve grasshoppers, bears, minnows, whales, sea-gulls, babies, or idols.  He made, too, a canoe for Ted, a real Alaskan dugout, shaping the shell from a log and making it soft by steam, filling the hole with water and throwing in red-hot stones.  The wood was then left to season, and Ted could hardly wait patiently until sun and wind and rain had made his precious craft seaworthy.  Then it was painted with paint made by rubbing a certain rock over the surface of a coarse stone and the powder mixed with oil or water.

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