The Stolen Salmon
Click the video player to watch a short video of the 2016 Dell'Arte International + Tsek Houdaqh shadow play based on this story!
This story was told in slightly different versions by Jerry James (published in Reichard, Gladys A., 1925, Wiyot Grammar and Texts, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 22(1):1-215) and Della Prince (published in Teeter, Karl V. & John D. Nichols (1993), Wiyot Handbook. Memoir 10, Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, University of Manitoba, pp. 24-26). Spellings have been converted to the approved Wiyot writing system, and English translations have been modified to sound more natural.
This story tells about how salmon were released into the world by the folk hero Rrak Shoura Lhughilh / Rrak Shou'r Lhugilh 'Southwest-Young-Man' or 'He-Who-Goes-Down-West'. Someone (it's never clear exactly who) dammed up all the fish to keep them hidden from people, but Rrak Shou'r Lhugilh gets wise to the secret and lets them loose so that people can catch and eat them. [A similar Yurok story referenced in Teeter & Nichols can be found here.]
A third, shorter version of the story was recorded in English by A.L. Kroeber and can be downloaded here. The Wiyot speaker ("a man named Bob") who told the story to Kroeber referred to the story's hero as Gatswouqhire (instead of Rrak Shoura Lhughilh / Rrak Shou'r Lhugilh), and said that the one who hid the salmon was Gou Datrri Gaqilh ('Above-Old-Man', e.g. Creator).
Differences in pronunciation between the two versions of the story (same words & meaning, but pronounced slightly differently) are underlined. Differences in wording are in bold print, with an explanation in the Notes column.
For a downloadable printout of the Jerry James & Della Prince versions of the story, click here.