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The Copper Man (Skwa7ils) [archive]

The Copper Man (Skwa7ils)

as told by Louis Miranda

Once in the long ago, there lived two brothers, named atsay'ani7 and tsiktsiklus. Each one of them had six sons and all of the sons of tsiktsiklus, were somewhat deformed. They had a big lump or swelling on the side of their stomach.

One day the whole twelve of them went up into the mountains. They climbed three successive mountains and after they passed the third mountain, they saw in the distance, on the top of the opposite hill, a strange village. And as they stood looking at it and wondered what people lived there, they saw a man rolling a large copper hoop down the mountainside, opposite of where they were standing. As soon as it reached the bottom of the hill, he would draw it back again with his breath.

When the brothers seen the beautiful hoop, which shined so bright from the sunlight, they were determined to have it for themselves. to obtain it, they made these plans. atsay'ani7's oldest son was to go into the valley where the hoop stopped and to seize it when it came down. The brother next to him was to follow after , and they were to spread out along that way. Being some distance apart, the deformed youth was to be the last in line, there for, he was nearest to the hoop, and they were all aware that the owner of the hoop would not give up the hoop so easily, and the plan may end up with a lot of sorrow for some of them,

In a little while, when each had taken his place, the hoop came rolling down the hillside again. As soon as it reached the bottom and stopped, the youth who was waiting, sprang out from his hiding place and seized the hoop and immediately took of heading in the direction of his next brother. as he ran he could feel himself being pulled back by the breath of the hoop's downer , drawing the hoop back again. The youth had great difficulty in moving along. The hoop's owner realized that there was something wrong with the hoop, so he came down to see what was wrong. He soon discovered the youth running off with his his hoop and immediately took off after him to recover his treasured hoop.

But, by this time, the youth had reached the spot where his second brother was hiding. Just as the man was about to seize him, he threw the hoop to his brother, who immediately took it and headed towards the next brother, being fresh, this one made a good start, furthermore, the wizard man stopped to punish the youth by cutting out his heart and eating it. This delay gave the fleeing youth quite a lead. And then again, after running a great distance, the wizard takes off and just as the youth reached his other brother and passes the hoop to him, he is over taken by the wizard.

This one received the same fate as his elder brother, he also had his heart cut out and eaten. This carried on, and each and every brother met the same fate, until it came to the last and youngest brother. Who, as soon as he obtained possession of the hoop, took the lump from his side, what had caused the old form, and threw it at the wizard. Immediately, a heavy fog set in, and while the wizard tried in vain to find him he hurried off homewards.

He crossed the three mountains safely, and soon came near the village he called out to his his father tsiktsiklus and to his uncle atsayani7 with these words: atsayani7 atasayani7 na x way nat x way kwi stuymtsem aynixw tl'a atsayani7, atsayani7 meaning atsayani7, atsayani7 they have died, they have died, all of the children of atsayani7). This father and his uncle were in the house at this time. when they heard the voice calling, they climbed up through the smoke hole to the roof of the house to hear what he was saying.

As soon they understood the full meaning of the terrible news, they threw themselves down into the fire, to show their great sorrow. Their eyes shot like fiery sparks, the right eye went northward and their left eye went southwards. Immediately the weather became clear and fine.

The youth now enters the house, and relates his own and his late brothers and cousins adventure and shows the wonderful copper hoop. atsayani7 takes the hoop from the youth and said, "I know what I will do with this hoop, I will hammer it down thin into a copper cloth and make an armor out of it." He then takes the hoop and hammers it down until it is thin as a piece of cloth.

And that is how the art of copper-working came to the Squamish people.

Additional Reading

  Squamish First Nation
  North American mythology
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