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7 Southern Tutchone Like the Tagish, the Southern Tutchone people live in a region of the Yukon Territory that encompasses headwaters of the Yukon River, but in addition their homeland includes the upper reaches of the Alsek River before it descends through the coastal range of mountains to the Pacific Ocean. In their language, kwädā ˛y kwändü¯r and kwändür are the terms, respectively, for ‘‘long ago story’’ and for ‘‘story’’ or ‘‘history’’ (the spellings are Ritter’s, the definitions McClellan’s). McClellan notes that within both categories stories generally perform two major functions, instruction and entertainment (‘‘Indian Stories’’ –). The instructional purpose covers explanations of cosmological and natural phenomena (for the most part in kwädā ˛y kwändü¯r), guidance in morality (both categories), demonstrations of how individuals should face and deal with psychological and social stresses (both categories), and information about significant events in the lives of contemporary Southern Tutchone individuals or of their ancestors (in kwändür). The last of these teaching functions is paramount in the narratives about first contact between Southern Tutchone people and whites. The entertainment purpose includes the prompting of laughter through the depiction of ridiculous occurrences, the eliciting of admiration through the unfolding of great exploits, and the stimulating of amusement in Southern Tutchone audiences ‘‘by poking fun at themselves,’’ as McClellan puts it. These aspects of entertainment characterize both major categories, although the poking of fun for amusement is especially prevalent, McClellan has found, in contact narratives; in fact, she suggests that the storytelling of the Southern Tutchone people might be said to include ‘‘a comic genre of contact literature in which they themselves play the dupes’’ (in contrast to the Coastal Tlingits’ self-portrayal ‘‘in a somewhat heroic manner’’ in their narratives about their first encounters with whites) (‘‘Indian Stories’’ ).  Southern Tutchone Just as this possible ‘‘comic contact’’ category falls within kwändür, so the Crow cycle and the Äsùya (Smart Man or Beaver) cycle belong to kwädā ˛y kwändü¯r. Another category, important among the southernmost Southern Tutchone bands, who have adopted Tlingit social organization, is that of sib traditions: for example, stories about how certain clans acquired their crests. McClellan has observed that some of these narratives are kwädā ˛y kwändü¯r, others kwändür (Old People ). Winter was the season when most Southern Tutchone storytelling traditionally took place, but McClellan observes that the Äsùya cycle ‘‘could not be told during the cold season because stormy weather would follow.’’ Elderly men were the principal storytellers, and they rendered such narratives as the Beaver Man and Crow cycles in a formal style and at great length. McClellan writes that the men of highest rank and greatest age ‘‘had a fairly formalized responsibility for handing on the most important knowledge’’ through storytelling. She adds that ‘‘the older women, who are often busier than the men, also tell stories to the younger people, but they usually do it in a less formal way.’’ Formal storytelling by a male elder to a sizable group of young people is no longer common. Instead, a young person might cut wood or carry in water for an old lady and be paid with a story or two (Old People –). Ntthenada is the Southern Tutchone name given to the female child born more than a century ago who became Mrs. Annie Ned. She was born and spent her early childhood near Hutshi (no longer inhabited), about halfway between Whitehorse and Haines Junction. Her grandmothers, one Tlingit and one Southern Tutchone, strongly influenced her upbringing, instilling in her the traditional beliefs of both coastal and interior Indians. Her paternal grandfather, called Hutshi Chief, was influential in the trade that had developed between the Tlingits and the Athabaskans. Her first husband, Paddy Smith, who was some years older than she, hunted to feed their family of five sons and three daughters. After his death, and in keeping with Athabaskan custom that a widow should marry a close male relative of her late husband, she married Johnny Ned, some years younger than she, a ‘‘kid’’ whom she and her first husband had raised after Johnny’s mother had died. Johnny Ned became a shaman and a leader of the people in his southern Yukon homeland. Following his death, Mrs. Ned took a third husband. She lived through the two events that most greatly disrupted traditional Southern Tutchone culture: the Klondike gold rush (–) of her...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780803202368
MARC Record
OCLC
607194129
Pages
394
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-10
Language
English
Open Access
No
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