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huston sanford Dae’ Ts’atk’aats How We Were Trained Ever since I was a child, my mother and my father would tell us stories. They used to tell us so that we would be independent. When it was snowing out there, we would shovel the snow away from our door. We also gathered wood. When we chopped down trees, ‘‘Clean it off good from the top! If you do that you will become successful,’’ they would tell us. They used to tell us that in order to make us think about the ancient times. ‘‘In a while you will be fasting,’’ they would tell us.1 ‘‘You should train yourselves so that you can be independent.’’ When we were just waking up [they would tell us], ‘‘You hurry outside just as the morning light begins. At the doorway look up for it [the star-clock].2 You should look for it three times, and then you will be fortunate. If you delay, you will forget about it. After several days when you remember it again, you can run out for it. Look up for it. Then it will take care of you. You will still remember it after three days pass. From then on your life will improve. Riches will come to us. We will be in wealth. We will be successful from it [the star].’’ That is what our mother and father used to tell us. They told us that long ago an orphan was blessed with good fortune. Some time had passed since then and he used to tell them how he became blessed.  Ahtna It was because of him that they [our parents] trained themselves, that orphan who was blessed with good fortune. His uncles were keeping him and raising him. All of a sudden he had become worthless and sleepy. His uncle gave him a beating. Later on he beat him a second time. Then he did it a third time. He beat him three times. He [the orphan] got angry. He went out under a tree and he cried. As he stayed there crying he fell asleep. Then all of a sudden he became blessed. God spoke to him.3 ‘‘Why are you crying?’’ ‘‘My uncle beat me.’’ ‘‘Why did he do that to you?’’ ‘‘I am worthless [he said]. [Cutting] wood is hard for me and trapping is hard for me. Sleepiness is starting to kill me. That’s why he beat me.’’ ‘‘Well, you should be blessed with good luck. You should be blessed. Turn toward me.’’ He [God] poked his [the orphan’s] back with his cane. Then he [the orphan] vomited, and vomited, and vomited. When he poked him in the back the third time, he had vomited it all up. ‘‘Well, it is because of this [impurity] that you have become so worthless. It is because of this that laziness is killing you. Now you go back in to your uncle,’’ he [God] told him. He went back in to his uncle. He went to bed. He woke up while his uncle was sleeping and he sneaked outside. Up above he chopped up some wood. He limbed the tree. The morning light was beginning. His uncle woke up. He reached for him. His nephew was not there. huston sanford: how we were trained  He nudged his wife. ‘‘Your poor grandchild, where is he?’’ He dropped some wood outside by the door. ‘‘Your grandchild is doing that! He dropped off some wood!’’ All day he chopped wood. He chopped up a load of wood and he came back in. They cooked a little food for him. They served him. Then he [the uncle] spoke to his nephew. [He said] ‘‘I spoke that way so that you would be on your own. That was not out of dislike for you. I love you even though I beat you.’’ That orphan child was blessed with luck. Every day he packed skins back from the traps. He gathered things together for a potlatch for his uncle. ‘‘My uncle, I am going to make a potlatch for you. Get your friends together for me.’’ The potlatch began. He made a potlatch for his uncle. Another summer and winter passed, and he went out trapping. Then it started to be spring and, ‘‘I should make another potlatch for you,’’ he told his uncle. He made a potlatch for his uncle again. Again it happened the same way. From then on he went back trapping, with...


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