Friday, 23 October 2009

First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays: Ghandl

Ghandl 1851-1920
Was a member of the Haida, of a village known as Qayahl Llaanas (The Sea Lion People). The Haida live in the area of the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia. Ghandl was blinded as a young man and thus was no longer able to hunt. Fortunate for us, he became know for his story telling. I have read translations of two of his stories, 'In his Father's Village, Someone Was Just About to go Out Hunting Birds' and 'The Sea Lion Hunter'.

A selection from 'In his Father's Village' where the hunter finds a woman to become his wife:

There were two women bathing in a lake.
Something lay there on the shore.
Two goose skins were thrown over it.
Under their tails were patches of white.

After watching for a while,
he swooped in.
He sat on the two skins.
The women asked to have them back.

He asked the better-looking one to marry him.
The other one replied.
'Don't marry my younger sister.
I am smarter. Marry me.'

'No, I will marry your younger sister,'

And she said that she accepted him, they say.

'Well then! Marry my younger sister.
You caught us bathing in a lake
that belongs to our father.
Now give me my skin.'

He gave it back.
She slipped it on while she was swimming in the lake.

A goose swam in the lake then,
and then she started calling.
And then she flew, they say,
though leaving her younger sister
sickened her heart.

quoted from:An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English edited by Daniel David Moses & Terry Goldie. Oxford University Press 2005

A brief biography by Robert Bringhurst of Ghandl and translated text of "The Sea Lion Hunter"
For further information on the Haida, visit the Council of the Haida Nation website

Map of the Queen Charlotte Islands

A selective Bibliography of the Haida is available at the Canadian Museum of Civilization Library.

Thanks to Amazon for the cover photo of 'Nine Visits to the Mythworld'.


Felicity Grace Terry said...

Another great post in this series. I especially loved the story of the hunter finding a wife.

Heather said...

I wish I could have put the full stories but I don't want to have copyright issues. Do check the link for 'the Sea Lion Hunter' and read that story.