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catherine attla Ełts’eeyh Denaa Wind Man In the time very long ago there lived a man. He lived alone in a camp where he had a house. One day the wind began to blow, and it blew for days. It blew as if it were never going to stop, blowing and blowing with big gusts of snow. It looked as if it would never stop, and he was beginning to use up the small amount of food he had stored. ‘‘Well, what am I waiting for? I should do something. Where is that wind coming from?’’ he wondered. Gusts of wind and snow were blowing down from the mountains. Then he started to walk uphill. The wind became so strong that it almost blew him away. He was bucking the wind, barely managing to climb. The wind would pick him up and blow him off balance when it blew. He kept on walking through the storm. Suddenly, he came upon a man. Every time the man would swing his axe, the wind would blow and blow. He sneaked up behind him and snatched his axe away. ‘‘Hey! Why is he doing this, as if he’s the only one who needs to make a living?1 Doesn’t he think that other people would like to eat too? Doesn’t the one who’s doing this think of that?’’ he said to Wind Man.  Koyukon Suddenly, the wind stopped. It was not blowing anymore. ‘‘Don’t! Just give my axe back to me gently,’’ Wind Man told him. ‘‘I will not give it back to you. I’m hungry too. I want to go out and try to get something to eat but I can’t even manage to go outside. Do you think that you’re the only one who wants to live, and is that the reason you want your axe back?’’ he asked Wind Man. ‘‘Give it to me. Give me my axe,’’ Wind Man told him, but Wind Man could not persuade him. ‘‘If what you say is true, go back to wherever you’re from. When you have returned home, if you have a canoe, tie it to the entrance of your house and go to bed. You just might wake up to find the world very different,’’ Wind Man said to him. He did not believe Wind Man but did it anyway. He began chopping a rock with the axe, chipping the blade of the axe until it was rounded. Then he threw it back to Wind Man. He didn’t believe what Wind Man had said, but he prepared to leave anyway. The wind man took back his axe and looked at it. He ran his tongue over the edge and then said, ‘‘Oh, he almost ruined it.’’ It was magically returned to its original condition. Then the man started walking back down. He returned to his house below and went to bed just as he had been told. He also tied his canoe to the entrance of his house. catherine attla: wind man  He went to bed and woke up thinking that only one night had passed. To his surprise, he heard water coming into his entryway. ‘‘Hey! What’s that noise? What’s happened?’’ he wondered. He jumped up. He rushed out the door. The water was high and up to the willows, and from all directions he could hear the noise of red-necked grebes. Apparently the winter had passed. For this reason, whenever we tell stories, at the end of every story, it is said that we should say, ‘‘I thought the winter had just begun and now I’ve chewed off part of it.’’ Long ago, when times were hard, people would appeal for mercy by telling stories. It was their way of praying. Furthermore, when we tell stories, we should not tell only part of a story. They also used to say that we should always finish telling it. If we take a long time to tell a story, then the winter will be long. It used to be said that when the winter was long, people would have a hard time. note . Someone from Western culture would say, ‘‘Hey! Why are you doing this, as if you’re the only one who needs to make a living,’’ but Athabaskans consider such direct reference, especially when criticism is implied, very rude. ...


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