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peter kalifornsky Ch’enlahi Sukdu The Gambling Story The Dena’ina once used to tell stories. In this story, two rich men met and said, ‘‘Let’s play the gambling game.’’ One young man was a shaman. The other fellow followed the traditional beliefs [he was a True Believer, ‘‘K’ech’ Eltanen’’]. That shaman was winning everything from the rich man. He took all of the rich man’s possessions from him. Then, all the rich man had left were his wife and children. ‘‘What will you bet me?’’ the shaman said. He had his wife and children, one a small boy. He longed to keep them. The shaman had taken all of the rich man’s belongings from him. He longed to keep the young boy and his wife. He bet his three girls, and lost. He only had his wife and young son left. ‘‘Bet me your wife and boy against all your things and the three girls,’’ the shaman said. Which one did he love the most, his wife or his young son? He bet his wife, and lost. All his belongings and his daughters and his wife he bet for that boy. The shaman took the boy from him too. He had nothing. The shaman had won all that he had, even his last gun. That young man went outside and walked a long way. When he came to a trap he had set in the foothills, a squirrel was caught in it. The squirrel was chewed up and only a small skin was lying there. He picked it up and put it in his pocket. He walked a long way and then came to a big house. From inside someone said, ‘‘I heard you. Turn around the way the sun goes [clockwise] and come in.’’ It was big inside. A big old lady was sitting there. ‘‘My husband is away, but he’ll return to us,’’ she said. Not long after, a giant came in. ‘‘Hello. What happened to you that you come to see me?’’ the giant said. The man explained what the shaman had done to him. ‘‘The shaman took from me my daughters, then my wife, and even my young boy. And somehow I came here.’’ ‘‘Good,’’ the giant said. ‘‘Rest yourself well and I’ll fix you up.’’ The man peter kalifornsky: the gambling story  rested well, and then that little skin he had put into his pocket started to move, and it jumped from his pocket. It became an animal again. ‘‘Yes, you have come to us with our child,’’ the giant said. ‘‘And I had searched all over for my child that I had lost. You said the one who gambled with you is a shaman . Good. I too have powers. I’ll prepare you to go back to him,’’ the giant said. There were animal skins piled in the house. The giant cut little pieces from all of them and put them into his gut bag. He put down feathers in with them. ‘‘You’ll return with this and sprinkle these down feathers on the gut bag when no one is looking at you. It will turn back into a large supply of animal skins. You will bet with these.’’ And he lay down three sets of gambling sticks. He wrapped these up. ‘‘The first time you play with the shaman, sometimes he’ll win from you and sometimes you’ll win from him. As you continue and he thinks, ‘I’ll take everything from him again,’ you will throw down this set of gambling sticks. They will spin the way the sun goes [clockwise] and you will take back all your belongings and wife and children,’’ the giant said. ‘‘Then you tell the shaman, ‘Do to me as I did to you. I went out and went to the one they call K’eluyesh. K’eluyesh resupplied me and gave me the gambling sticks. With them I won everything back from you.’ Go to K’eluyesh and tell him, ‘Give me gambling sticks,’’’ the giant said. The True Believer went back. This is why the True Believer won everything back from the shaman when he gambled again. When he went to K’eluyesh , K’eluyesh blocked the shaman’s powers by means of the pieces he had cut from all those skins. As the shaman tried magic, as he tried to transform himself, he couldn’t take the form of an animal again. He failed at magic...


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