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peter kalifornsky K’ełen Ił Ch’qghe’uyi Ch’u K’ech’eltani Beliefs in Things a Person Can See and in Things a Person Cannot See The Dena’ina, they say, had some beliefs about animals. After they killed and butchered an animal in the woods while hunting or trapping, they would put the bones in one place. In the winter they would cut a hole in the ice and put the animal bones in the water. At home in the village, too, they put all the animal bones into the water, either in a lake or in the Inlet, or they would burn them in the fire. They did this so the animals would be in good shape as they returned to the place where the animals are reincarnated. They say they had that kind of belief about the animals. There was one young man. The old men would tell stories about the animals , about how to take good care of them and treat them with respect. And this man listened to the stories the old men told and said, ‘‘Look, the old men are lying.’’ Later, that man went into the woods and built a brush camp and he killed a caribou. He took the caribou back to his camp and butchered it and cooked it, and he started to eat. Then a mouse came out and he clubbed it and threw it away. Then more mice came out and he clubbed them and threw them away, too. He was trying to eat but still more mice came out and he poured hot water on them and scalded them and threw them away, but still the mice kept coming out at him. So he went back to the village and he went to the chief and he told him, ‘‘I’m in bad shape, I’m all tired out and I’m hungry.’’ They gave him something to eat, and then he told the chief how the mice kept coming out at him after he had killed the caribou. He said that if the men would go with him, they could bring home the caribou meat that was still good. When they arrived at the brush camp, they found the mice had not touched the caribou meat; but when the man checked his traps, he discovered the mice had chewed whatever had been caught and he threw the meat away. They returned to the village, and the man put his pack of caribou meat in  Dena’ina a cache. A day or so later he went to get the meat he had brought home and discovered it was not usable because the mice had eaten on it and dirtied it with their waste. The chief told the man, ‘‘The mice are not bothering you for no reason. Maybe you treated the animals improperly.’’ At night, when the man went to bed, the mice ran all over him. Then, when he finally went to sleep, the man had a dream. He dreamed about an open country, no ridges, no mountains, no trees, as far as one could see. There were all kinds of people all around. And there was a lady seated in front of him there. ‘‘I know you,’’ she said to him. There were people there, but their faces were made differently than human faces. The woman was beautiful. She said, ‘‘The way you are now is bad, and as a result you will have a very hard time. You have smashed the animal bones and thrown them where the people walk on them. When the animals return here, they have difficulty turning back into animals.’’ And she gestured, and the place turned into a different country. It was populated by horribly disfigured animals. There were people there who were tending to them. ‘‘These are my children,’’ she said. ‘‘Look what you did to them. You scorched off their skin with hot water.’’ Then she said, ‘‘Now, look where you came from – – the sunrise side.’’ He turned and saw that they were at a land above the human land, which was below them to the east. And all kinds of people were coming up from the lower country, and they didn’t have any clothes on. When they arrived, they put on clothes, and when they did, they turned back into all kinds of animals again. The beautiful lady told the man that the animals were returning from the human people to...


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