Twana Narratives





pp. xxix-xxxii


Spirit Power


pp. 165-98




pp. 199-220


Souls, Magic, and Ritual


pp. 221-57


Index of Ethnic Names


pp. 270-84

p. lv /e/ = "schwa"; /a/ = script "a"; /I/ = /i/ (in another transcription); /o/ = /o,/;

/B/ = implosive "b"; /c/ = /ts/; /x/ = /h^/



p. xxix

"the term Twana refers to a speech community of Coast Salish Indians in the Hood Canal region of western Washington, between Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula".

"the Twana were divided into nine village communities, of which the Skokomish was the largest." The 9 communities included :

Dabop, Quilcene, Dosewallips, Duckabush, ..., Skokomish, ..., Tahuya, Duhlelap


41. (p. 165) Bodily possession by spirit power


"When it comes to you ..., your power will sing from inside of you and work your jaws and make you talk and say things to people, whatever it wants to say".


"When the power makes you sick it is because he wants food ... . When the way is open for him to speak through you he will tell the people to get such-and-such kinds of food, ... and everybody will eat that food became that is what the power wants. You will eat it too, only it isnít you eating, itís that tama`namis that wants that food. ... He makes you tell what food he wants to eat." {cf. the eating of foods specific to the possessing-deity, in spirit-possession caerimonies elsewhere (whether in West Africa, in Vietnam, or wherever).}


"And your power calls by and sees you every winter. I donít know why {perhaps because of the rule (common to many tribes of North American Indians) that myths (about animal-deities) may be recounted publicly only in the winter (when certain large and dangerous animals are hibernating)}, but tama`namis comes strong in the winter. Every winter your power will come to you and make you sick and you have to sing it and feed it and dance it".


58. (p. 199) Nature of shaman powers


"swa`das^ is doctor power ... . Now when a man gets swa`das^ power it is right in his body and he can use it any time. ... swa`das^ is with you all the time, right in you body ... . And you can take it out of your body and show it".


"swa`das^ ... comes to you and wants to be yours, and you get sick and a doctor finds what is the matter, and he brings your dead relativeís power to you ... . ... We call this ... doctor power from the dead".


"doctors suck ... . Some suck ... through their two fists, held like a tube ... . ... Iíve seen a Nisqually doctor ... suck ... through his pipe. It was a wooden tube about six inches long".


68. (pp. 217-20) Spirit intrusion, its cause and treatment



"The doctor who treats a person for this sickness sees the thing inside of him when he diagnoses. Then he pulls it out of him. ... When it is doctor tama`namis that has been shot, the doctor who is curing sees it".



"Then the doctor lays the patient down ... and sings for his own doctor power. He uses his swa`das^ like an x-ray eye, to see inside the sick person and tell what is the matter with him. Then, when he has found where the shot swa`das^ is in the patientís body, he puts his lips over that part and



sucks. When it comes out in his mouth he grabs it with both hands and plunges it in a basket half full of water at his side. He holds it there and groans and sobs. He has to hold it hard or it will get away."



"When he brings the power out of the water, the doctor ... holds it ... in his two fists so it canít get away. ... Or the doctor might give the doctor power he had taken out to the tebta`baxw (the little-earths). Heíd take it out of the basket and point it toward where there were little-earths and let go of it, then motion with his hands as if he was fanning it in that direction. Finally heíd announce when the little-earth had got it. ... Then, after he throws the tama`namis ..., the doctor picks up water in his two hands ... and turns it into an icicle, and shoots it into the sick man, right at the place the swa`das^ came out. That is a sore spot. He shove the icicle in, and that heals the soreness."



"The little-earths live in the dark places of the earth, so they call their places sqa`labas ti tebI`xw (the bad lands). {cf. the "Badlands" of the Dakotas?} They call the little-earthís country that when they are diagnosing. Well, the other doctor comes to treat the doctor who got sick, and he says, "Hey! ... I see they got your power and threw it to the little-earths!" Then he goes and gets that other doctorís power back. Thatís syuwa`da`b now, regular doctoring method; with an audience to help sing (qwaqwa`w>qad) and beat on a drumming plank. ... He sings with an arm held over his eyes while his swa`das^ power ... trails the sick doctorís swa`das^. He follows something like a white string from the sick doctorís body {in Mongolian shamanism, a string is connected between the patient and the curing agent}, until he locates it."

"they used to cork a swa`das^ up in an empty bottle after they got it out of a sick person ... . Sometimes it would break the bottle and get loose."



"Well, the doctor makes an image of shredded cedar bark and tosses it to the other end of the mat he is working on. Then he sends his sad>a`da power to go get the sick doctorís tama`namis .. . ... When his power gets the lost doctor power he returns it to that sick doctor ... . He picks up the little image and brings it over to the patient and puts the power in at the top of his head and strokes it in all down his body, while the image falls to the floor."

"Thereís a sad>a`da power song used in doctoring as sad>a`da ... : "a`yuwa`yu>a`yu`wa / ayhwaa ayhwaa."



"a sad>a`da song with Chemakum words : "oo`yioo`yii ha / qwaso`mic^ad lala.""


69. (pp. 221-3) Soul-loss cases



"Heíd go out of his mind and run away, and theyíd have to catch him and bring him back. The symptoms were k>a`llEteb (made insane), a sign that the little-earths (tebta`baxw, earth dwarfs) had got his soul ... . ...

So all the doctors on the reservation tried doctoring him, two or three of them at a time ... . ... There was quite an audience at these doings. You see, a doctor is no good without qwaqwa`w>qad (audience help). His power will refuse to work. ... Well, the audience get behind the doctor and makes more noise in the singing and helps him. ... Well, the doctors used sad>a`da (messenger power) and got a soul



..., but every time it would turn out to be the wrong soul, not his at all."



"A good doctor would usually get the right soul, though. His power would find it. ...

There were lots of little-earths in that country at the head of the canal, There was a tebta`baxw village at sk>ok>o`L>, a place a short way west of dexwk>u`kw>aBs^, in a hidden cove behind a point, about half a mile from sk>allE`. It name is from kw>uL>u`d (hide, conceal)."



"The doctorís tama`namis asked the little-earths right there at sk>allE` where the womanís soul was. ... And that tama`namis finally caught up with her at Mats Mats, way down at the mouth of Hood Canal, where there was a little-earth village ... . ... Well, the little-earths at Mats Mats came out, and the tama`namis



went ashore, and found the womanís soul already married to one of the little-earths. He found her looking for bugs in her husbandís hair ... (sheís lousing her husband). ... . ... but the sad>a`da grabbed the womanís soul and brought it back."


72. (pp. 226-33) Soul-recovery : Skokomis^ doctors go to ghost-land



"Now when several doctors all go together to the ghost land ..., ... sbeteda`q ... is ... the name of the powers they use. We call the doctors going together s^c>a`b, and that is also the name of the canoe arrangement they go in, made of rope. The doctors line up, single file, the length of the house, and they lay a rope on the floor in the shape of a canoe, in the center of the house. ... And each doctor has a long cane, about six feet long, called q>ewaa`c^I. Those sbeteda`q doctors work all night because it is daytime down there in the ghost land, and the ghosts sleep in the day time."



"Now to begin with they used to have a big rock ... . All the doctors would gather ... and lift up the rock. Then they would throw it down hard, ... to open the way down to the ghosts ... . And all the doctors start dancing as though they were walking through the earth. ... For a long time everyone in the house dances and sings while the doctors are going down through the earth, maybe a quarter of an hour. ...



Now the leader in the bow starts a song ... . And everybody joins in ..., all the doctors and the audience. And they keep this up all night."



"When day comes they eat ... . Then at sundown they cook and eat again ... .

They have met a ghost now, and the captain catches him and ... goes through the motions of holding him down. ... "That soul weíre going to look for, is it there?" The ghost says, feebly, "Yes, yes!""



"And then they come to a little slough, a creek ... . ... It is dangerous, full of worms. If you get into it, you will rot, your legs will rot, any part of you that gets into that creek. It is called k>alli`l>aqo (bad water) ... . ...



He puts his can point on the opposite bank of the creek ..., and leaps over on the cane. Then each doctor follows him in turn. ...

The ghost people put that creek there for a trap for the living people, to make them fall in and go to the ghost land."



"At his part of the trail there are berries on either side of the road ... ... They see another ghost man coming now, packing a bow and arrow."



"Now it is toward morning and the doctors rest, food is cooked; everyone eats. ... The third night they come a place supposed to be a mountain. ... The name of this place is qxq>a`dad. ... When they get over the top of the mountain, ... they get to the bottom ... .



... When ... got to the top you could see the wind blowing her hair straight up, the wind there at the top of the mountain."



" "Fresh tracks! ..." ... So they tell the two captured ghosts they have with them to go on and scout around for other ghosts. ... So the two ghosts go on arm in arm, whistling, going on toward the village of ghosts. ... Now it is daytime down there and the ghosts are nearly all asleep. ... In the village of the dead the dog is barking. The two ghosts with the doctors go into the village and tell the other ghosts the dog is just barking at them."



"Then they come back to the doctors ... . ... .



One of their ghosts tells them he will take to where the souls are. The doctors walk, sneaking, after the ghost guide, to the right house. As they go along they make a sound like k> k> k> to keep the ghosts asleep. The ghost guide takes them to the house and opens the door ... . And one of the doctors steals over, picks up the soul quietly, and strokes it ... . Then the ghost whispers, "Now the next house. There are some more in there." So they get these too."



"Now they come home quick ..., no long trip like going."



"The dead are in slkwedda`l (the ghost land). But when the ghosts die they go to sp>at>a`leb, which is on beyond the ghost country [... p>a`c^deb (go further)]. It is from there they come back to be born over again in this earth. From sp>at>a`leb they are born again



and look like a grandfather or uncle. ... sp>at>a`leb is where the children are, where the babies are born from."



"When they find the people who are missing souls ... they see if their souls are among the ones they have brought back from the ghost land."


73. (pp. 233-7) Soul-recovery caerimony



"The dead people steal the souls of the living because they miss their living relatives and want to have them with them down there in aa`lqwel. ... They only do sbeteda`q in winter".



"At the beginning they throw down a big rock to break the earth, so they can get underground to aa`lqwel ... . Holding this ceremony is s^c>a`b. ... The power they use is sbeteda`q. That is power for getting souls back from the dead. ... They have to use sbeteda`q power to s^c>a`b. ... The Puget Sound people call the whole thing sptda`q, like our s^c>a`b."



"when they s^c>a`b ..., they come to a long ridge (speti`c^ad) at one part of the journey. The trail to aa`lqwel goes along the top of this ridge.


The trail to aa`lqwel goes along the top of this ridge.

{Likewise, in Fiji the trail of souls to the land of the dead is along a the top of a ridge.}


Here the trees along the way wave their branches about, and sing love songs (s>i`lal), and the berries jump away like grasshoppers. Elderberries are here too (L>a`, and blue elderberries (c>iqwi`qw). All the berries fly away as if they were alive, and you canít catch them. ... One old man who had eagle sad>a`da power used an eagle feather to tease the berries on the trail to the dead. He would stroke them with the feather to make them lie still so he could catch them."



"Doctors as sptda`q brought back a dead person from the ghost land. They brought back a really dead person, one who belonged down there. ...



But there were other cases of dead people, souls that belonged there, being given to women who didnít have any children".



"Well, at sptda`q, after the ridge where berries are, they go farther and come to a stream. They build a bridge across this. Ths place where the bridge is built is qq>a`da, a tama`namis name for bridge. ... While they are on the way they meet at least one ghost (lkw>edda`), and sometimes several, each night. The ghosts keep their heads held way back and make a sound like u`>u`>u`>. When they hear or see a ghost coming the sbeteda`q people lie down and wait for him. When he comes up they catch him and throw him down. They do this easily, a ghost has no strength or fight in him. After they capture the ghost, the people in the sbeteda`q party question him. ... So after the doctors have squeezed all the information they can out of the ghost, they let him up and go on. ...



Well, after they cross the bridge the party comes to a gorge which leads down to the waterfront. This gorge drips water; its sides are wet. Here the doctors ... hold a long kliskwis rush mat up with their sbeteda`q canes over the whole party. This is to keep the drip off."



"Then they come to the body of water that lies on this side of the land of the ghosts. The dead live on the far side of the river. Then one of them with fog power sings for fog. ... one woman had bluejay for this power. ... While they are crossing the water the fog hides them from the dead on the other shore. Otherwise the dead might see them coming and hide the souls they are looking for."



"On the far side of the water they are crossing is the village of the dead (aa`lqwel). After they land, the sbeteda`q party run into the village and snatch up the souls they are looking for. Sometimes they pick up a strayed soul, from this world, that they didnít know was down there. ... They donít have much trouble from the dead. They [the dead] donít fight, and are easy to handle."



"When they have found all the souls they are looking for, the sbeteda`q party returns to this world. They do this very quickly, there is no long return journey."


Appendix A (pp. 271-83)

ethnic names


conventional (Anglicized)

actual (indigenous)

































































William W. Elmendorf : Twana Narratives. 1993 : U of WA Pr, Seattle; U of BC Pr, Vancouver.