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lena petruska Jezra Camp Robbers Once there were two old women.1 Each had a cache of her own, which was full of food. They used fishnets to get fish. They also used snares to get rabbits . They used the skins to make rabbit-skin blankets. One day one woman said to the other, ‘‘Let’s eat only out of one cache. Maybe the food will last longer then. We’ll eat from yours first.’’ The other old woman agreed happily. They ate only from the one cache until there wasn’t any food left in it. Then the old woman who had planned it stopped giving food [from her cache] to the other old woman. The other old woman started getting weak. She would go in her cache and eat scraps of food like fish skins and even a fish-skin bag. She started to think about how she could trick the stingy old woman. While the stingy one slept, she took out her best clothes. She dressed herself up like a man. Then she got some birch punk and put it in her bedding. She told it to snore and it started to snore.2 Then she went outside. She acted like she had just arrived at the door. She was brushing herself off. When the stingy one woke up, she heard someone at the door. She looked across to where the other one slept. She could hear her snoring. A man entered and sat down. He said he was very tired. The stingy one started rushing around for him, making him comfortable. She gave him her choice foods. He told her he had traveled a long distance and had eaten up all the food he was carrying and was very lucky to have run into them. He told her that it would make him happy if she could give him some food to carry on the trail, so she went out and brought in her best dry fish. She put it in a sack for him. The man was so grateful he told her he would pick her up in the spring. He will come back in a fancy-looking boat for her. This made her very happy. The man left, and she went back to bed. The other woman snuck back in after the stingy one fell asleep again. She put the punk back where it used lena petruska: camp robbers  to be. She hadn’t eaten for a long time, so when she fell asleep she slept a long time. It was almost spring when the food the stingy one gave her was running out. She had been eating it secretly. She had also grown stronger. The stingy one was waiting for breakup3 so the man would return for her. One day she threw a piece of dried fish to the other one. It was hard and very dry. But it helped her to stay strong. The stingy one kept talking about the man. Finally one day the other woman told her it wasn’t true. ‘‘I tricked you because you were going to starve me. It was me that you thought was a man.’’ Then there was a big fight. The stingy one ended up with a broken leg. After that, they lived there for some time, and then they became Camp Robbers and flew away.4 That is what they say. notes . This is the name commonly used in the Upper Kuskokwim area and elsewhere in interior Alaska for the Canada jay or gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis), the large North American jay with black and gray feathers but without a crest. . The woman has some medicine power to be able to direct the birch punk to snore. All things in the Athabaskan world are considered to be alive and have personal spirits. . The standard Alaska/Yukon term for the spring thaw. . This story explains the origin of the Camp Robbers and some of their current behavior. Camp Robbers make it a practice to carry off food and cache it in secret places when it is available. They also frequently quarrel over food. ...


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