kalkalilh and t'it'ki7tsten
as told by Louis Miranda
Shortly after I arrived up to Squamish, to be with my
mother, we would be at someone's home where there were many children. In the evening, the
children would continue running in and out of the house and several times I would hear one
of the parents say, "you children had better come in and be quite. If not the
kalkaklilh will come and take you all away." I noticed that the children would all
So one night after one of these visits, I asked my
mother, "Why were the children so afraid of the work kalkaliilh?" My mother
said, "In the long ago, there was suppose to be a huge woman who use to roam around
in the woods. She had her home away up in the mountains. In the evening or even in the day
time but mostly in the evening she would come prowling around the villages looking for
some disobedient children playing around outside. kalkalilh always had a great big basket
strapped on her back and she would grab the children, throw them into the basket and take
off for home, up in the mountains where she would kill and eat the children. She was
supposed to be a cannibal woman." This is how my mother described the work
kalkakaliolh to me.
She continued by saying "In the days when we were
children, we use to hear a lot of different stories which were supposed to be true. It was
said that all children were warned that they were never to accept anything from a stranger
for fear it was no good. So, the children always obeyed their parents. But, it is said
that one night, quite a number of children were left home alone as the parents were
invited out. The children were hungry and crying. There were several bigger children with
the little ones and one of these children was t'it'ki7tsten, a boy in his
early teens. he
was a great carver. He always had a sharp Knife in his his possession.
This night, as the children were being left alone, they
were unable to stop the younger children from crying. All of a sudden a huge woman walked
into the house and in her hands she had some dry cedar and she approached the hungry
crying children. She stretched out her hand containing the cedar bark and said, "Here
child, take this dry salmon." And when the child, in his hunger, reached out to take
the supposed dry salmon, the cannibal woman grabbed his hand and threw him into the basket
that was strapped to her back. She took all of the little and some of the bigger ones,
including t'it'ki7tsen. she struck off up to her home in the mountains
Then, with his handy knife t'it'ki7tsten started to cut a
hole in the bottom of the basket. when the hole was large enough, he started to drop the
little ones out one by one and told them to go home. As each child would hit the ground
with a thump, the kalkalilh would say, "What was that, t'it'ki7tetsen" Then
t'it'ki7tetsen would say, "It was nothing grandmother. It is only your heels that are
thumping," so she continued walking until she arrived at her home.
She laid the basket down on the ground. She started a big
fire and started to melt some pitch to seal the eyes of the children so they would be
unable to see, should they try to escape. as she was melting the pitch t'it'ki7tetsen told
all the children that as she starts to smear the pitch on there eyes that they were to
close their eyes real hard and as soon as leaves them that they are to put their head down
and as she leaves them they they are to put their head down and open their eyes. Once
their eyes are opened they were to close it just so it would not again get sealed.
So, when the cannibal woman came with the pitch, each one
done t'it'ki7tetsen had told them to do, and sure enough it worked. When the cannibal
woman finished smearing the eyes of the children, she spoke to skull which was rolling on
the ground and continued on laughing. Then she sat down and started to paint her face in
preparation of dancing to celebrate the great feast she was going to have.
And, as she went out for awhile, t'it'ki7tetsen told the
other children to be ready if she, the cannibal woman, came between them and the fire,
they were to all jump and shove her into the fire. For the fire was not on the ground
level, it was in pit.
When she came in she started to dance and while she was
dancing the skull kept laughing and rolling on the ground. She danced on the opposite side
of the fire from the children. Then t'it'ki7tetsen said, "Come closer ton us,
grandmother, as you are dancing." She does so. She came between the children and the
fir e, they all jumped and shoved her into the roaring hot fire that she had going. As
soon as her hair hit the fire, the lice lice on her head went up like a big puff of smoke.
So after that, there use to be a bunch of small birds that fly straight upwards and they
are referred to as the lice of the Cannibal Woman.
She hit the fire. She screamed, t'it'ki7tetsen come and
help me." t'it'ki7tetsen had the fire tongs and he kept pushing her further in the
fire and he kept saying, "I am trying to help you." the skull kept rolling
around almost tripping some of the children. As it came close to t'it'ki7tetsen he gave it
a kick and it landed in the fire, even at that, the children could still hear it laughing.
So t'it'ki7tetsen gathered the children and brought them all home.
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