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peter kalifornsky Qezdaghnen Ggagga The Kustatan Bear A long time before my time there was a village at Old Kustatan, and there was a newer village on the north of the Kustatan Peninsula at Tl’egh Diłchik [‘‘yellow sedge’’] called the New Village of Kustatan, or New Kustatan.1 Quite a few people lived at Kustatan. They were trapping all over that country , all the way down to Tuxedni Bay, and up into McArthur River, and all over in the mountains. There were two brothers from Old Kustatan. They were trapping in Lake Clark Pass, and they went into the canyon up toward Lake Clark. They found a cache with some food and furs in it. They stole some of the food and furs and carried it back to where they had their camp at Nutenq’a [on upper Bachatna Creek]. In the meantime some people from the village of Qizhjeh came back to this cache and found their food and furs were gone. Instead of following the tracks to see who it was that stole their goods, they went back up Lake Clark Pass to their village. In those days there used to be shamans. One man and his wife were big shamans [powerful shamans]. The Qizhjeh people paid them to track down the ones who stole the food and furs from their cache. The two shamans wrapped bear skins around themselves. They went out and walked. They came out of Lake Clark Pass transformed into a bear and came upon the two brothers from Old Kustatan who were trapping. First the bear came upon the oldest brother, and, late in the evening, it killed him. From the camp they heard the shooting. The younger brother waited for his older brother to come back to camp, but he did not return. In the morning, as soon as it was daylight, he said he was going to see what his brother was shooting at and find out why he didn’t come back. He went after his brother. He wasn’t gone very long. The oldest brother’s wife and baby son were with them. She was preg- peter kalifornsky: the kustatan bear  nant. (The woman I am talking about came to be Mrs. Nickanorga later on on the Kenai side.) The old mother was with the brothers too. The wife wondered how come the brothers did not come back, it was almost mealtime, around noon. They should be real close by. So she put on snowshoes and went to where she thought they would be. She found the men torn up by a bear. She went back to camp, took the baby and that old lady, and put them in a sled. From their camp at Nutenq’a it took about four hours to reach Old Kustatan Village. She put the baby in blankets in the sled and pulled that sled all the way to near the mouth of Kustatan River. She pulled that sled with the baby and everything. She came that far. She was pretty exhausted. She built a brush camp and a fire for the old lady. And she went on for help. She started running with her baby across the Kustatan River to Old Kustatan Village. When she arrived at her relatives’ house, she opened the door and called for help. They knew something was wrong. The young boys ran on snowshoes, following her tracks. She had passed out in the house. The boys ran to the brush camp, found the old lady, and brought her back to Old Kustatan Village. By the time she came to, the young woman was strong enough to talk. She told the story. She said, ‘‘A bear came to my husband and my brother-in-law and tore them up out there.’’ The people ran to the village of New Kustatan and told them what had happened. They told the powerful chief of that area and his two brothers about the bear. The bear did not follow the woman’s tracks, but headed north through the lowlands and then cut off and went up toward McArthur River. Up by McArthur River there’s a little point of a ridge [Z’unishla]. The bear went around it toward the south. It happened that the Kustatan chief was trapping in the McArthur River area and was walking toward that very ridge. He saw the bear in a clearing, coming up toward him. He started running from the bear. He didn...


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