Kwakiutl - Mâ'lêleqala
Tradition of the Ma'malêleqala.
(Told by Lâ'bid, a Ma'malêleqala.)
Mâ'lêleqala knew that Q!â'nêqê?laku was coming south after having left his brother ?nEmô'gwis, and that he was transforming the world. He also knew that the Deluge, which was sent by the Chief in Heaven, was coming, and that people were preparing for it. Mâ'lêleqala's house was on the island T!ô'xuseXLalaku, opposite Fort Rupert. He put down large trees like the logs of a log-cabin, and caulked the openings with clay. When the Deluge came, it covered his house, but he remained inside without being hurt. When he thought that the Deluge had subsided, he and his younger brothers, Hâ'naL!ênoxu and Gâ'LEmaxs?ala, went out, and they found that the country was dry again. They saw much driftwood, and people were lying on it, holding on to it. Then Gâ'LEmaxs?ala took a long hook and pulled the logs ashore. They became their tribe. Hâ'naL!ênoxu had bow and arrows. He put a string at the bow end of his arrows and shot at the drifting logs. Then he pulled them ashore. For this reason the members of the Hâ'naL!ênoxu clan show a bow and arrow at their festivals.
Mâ'lêleqala wished to travel, but he had no canoe. He felled a cedar-tree and burned it out inside. At the same time he placed stones on each side, so that the fire should not burn through the sides of the wood. Thus he continued until he had made a serviceable canoe. Then he started looking for a place in which to build his house. He came to Fort Rupert (Tsa'xis). There he built a house at Lâ'Lek!uxLa. A shell-heap may be seen at this place. 1 His brothers accompanied him.
Now they were waiting for Q!â'nêqê?laku to come. One day when they were out in their canoe, they were met by another canoe. A man was aboard. When he came near, he asked, "What are you doing here?" Mâ'lêleqala replied, "What do you mean? Do you mean my canoe that is on the water, or do you mean the red cedar-bark on my head?" Q!â'nêqê?laku replied, "I mean the cedar-bark on your head. I like it." Mâ'lêleqala was not quite sure whether it was Q!â'nêqê?laku who had come. Then Q!â'nêqê?laku continued, "You and all your descendants shall be the first to receive red cedar-bark in the winter ceremonial."
Q!â'nêqê?laku went on. He had just come from Gwa'dzê?, where he had put the people to rights. As soon as Q!â'nêqê?laku had left, Mâ'lêleqala called his tribe in the evening, and he told them of what had happened. For this reason a meeting is always held before the winter-dance, in which the plans for the ceremonial are discussed.
Late at night the supernatural power appeared, singing like a bird. Then they prepared for the dance of Mâ'lêleqala's daughters, whose names were Q!wâ'q!waLEmg*ilayûgwa and Wîlx*stasîlayûgwa. They made torches and assembled in front of the houses. The people carried large planks, on which the girls were dancing one after the other. The people sang, -
"Aya a haik*as mêLa, lâ'k*as amâ'sêL? yâ'wix*ilidzEmsôx awâ'sk*as?ô lâ'k*as amâ'sêL lê'li?stâlayuxusôx awâ'lk*as?ôx mêiLaya."
The people raised the torches high up while they were singing; but when they did not close their song with the burden "awâ'ya," the two girls disappeared one after the other, and their father said that they had been taken away by the supernatural power. They staid away for a long time, and for this reason the novices continue to do so at present. (The people really hide the dancers, so that the uninitiated may think that they have been taken away by the spirit, but they always stay in the house where they are in hiding.)
One day the two girls went out. They saw something dark in the air. They did not know what it was. When it approached, they saw that it was a large bird which carried something in its talons. When it came still nearer, they saw that it was the thunder-bird carrying the double-headed serpent (sî'siuL). The bird dropped it near the girls; and when the double-headed serpent touched the ground, it became a salmon. It was quite small. Q!wâ'q!waLEmg*ilayûgwa went to pick it up; but as soon as she came near it, she disappeared. Nobody knew what had become of her. Then Mâ'lêleqala took a piece of wood, and went into his room, where he carved an image of his daughter, which he intended to take her place.
While he was engaged in this work, the daughter of the lost woman climbed to the roof of the house and pulled one of the boards aside. Thus she was able to look into her grandfather's room, where she saw the image, which looked just like her mother. Her grandfather called her, and said, "Yes, it is your mother. Come and look at her." The girl came down from the roof, went into her grandfather's room, and the old man strangled her because she had seen what he was doing. He wrapped her up in skin, and made a hole under the fireplace, where he buried her. For this reason the preparations for the winter ceremonial are still kept secret, and whoever sees the secrets without permission is killed.
In the evening they began the winter-dance (kwê'xala). The people took their boxes and carried them into the house for their chief. There they sat down quietly. Then a speaker arose and called Hâ'naL!ênoxu to go and take the boxes. He took one of them up, went around the fire, and put it down behind the fire. Then there began to be a noise in the house, and the people sang,-
"The great one is going to be Thrower with her throwing-stick. This great Yâ'lag*ilîs. Hâ."
("Lâ'dzêLElalaê mâ'maq!ayasês mâ'magayû hêyâ'lag*ilidzê â'dxêsg*a yâ'lag*ilidzê. Hâ")
After they finished singing the song, they beat time, and various dancers came in one after another,--the Thunder-Bird, the Grizzly Bear, the Dzô'noq!wa, the Raven, the Fool-Dancer, the Sea-Monster Dancer (yâ'g*adalal), the Hô'xuhoku, and the Wasp Dancer. Every one performed his dance and uttered his cries. After this the people sang the following song:--
"Ah, great one, this great Yâ'lag*ilîs, great Winâ'lag*ilîs; great one who will take up with his hands.
Â hâ'yâhânô. Wonderful Power of madness. That is the way your father did, madness.
Almost discernible is the means by which yours would have been caused to go, with which yours would have hung (??).
This, because I really said ghost (= near by), bring close by, sitting on fire (= ghost), trembling with hands in dance (= ghost dancer)."
On the fourth night they beat time again to bring back the women who had disappeared. The old man, who would not let the people know what had happened, because he was ashamed, first showed the face of the carving he had made, pretending that it was his daughter. He had hidden some people behind the house, who imitated his daughter's voice and the voices of the spirits. Then a large board was let down from the roof, on which the figure was seated. It seemed to move about like a living person. The younger sister came back safely when the performance of bringing back the novice was held. During this ceremony the figure was shown again and disappeared again; and the people said that the woman had gone back with the spirits, and that she would never return.
It is said that this whole performance was made in accordance with the advice of Q!â'nêqê?laku. Therefore the winter ceremonial is performed in this manner.
Now, Mâ'lêleqala resolved to leave the place where he had lost his daughter. He went to Pâ'tsawê, just east of Fort Rupert. There he built a large, strong house and gave a festival to all the tribes, among whom he distributed qô'xqowîs (a bush with cotton-like tips [sp.?]) and pearl shells (k*ô'gwîs). Here his family increased. One day his children were playing in a cave on the beach, which at high water is under water. The children had put down mats, and were imitating the work of their mothers, when the tide rose and cut off their retreat. Mâ'lêleqala heard them crying, but was unable to save them, and they were drowned. While there, he found a stick with a copper attached to it, which had drifted ashore with the tide.
He made a copper plate out of it, sold it, and gave a great potlatch. This was the first potlatch. Great-Smoke-Face (?wâ'las Kwa'x*ilanôkumê?) was the son of Mâ'lêleqala. Once he put a copper plate down at the place where the people were in the habit of drawing water, so that the first person to draw water in the morning should find it. This was his way of giving away a copper. He was very wealthy. His descendants were TsExtsExu'lîs, T!â't!Endzid, NôL!Eqâ'gamê?, Sê'x*wuqâla, Lâ'bid, Gwâ'maxalas, L!â'gôLas, Lâ'xlaqalîs, Lâ'L!êlîl, G*â'?dEn (= Gordon), and Lâ'bid, or Kwâ'x*ilanôkumêdzê, who told this story.
480:1 See also F. Boas, Indianische Sagen, etc., p. 146; and p. 83 of this volume.
481:1 It is about half a mile west of Fort Rupert.
Kwakiutl Tales, by Franz Boas; (Columbia University Contributions to Anthropology, Volume II) New York: Columbia University Press;  and is now in the public domain.