S'Klallam Foundation

 slapu

 

THIS AUTUMN AT HERONSWOOD GARDEN

 

Re-Imagined S’Klallam Stories[1]

"Slapu Steals Children"[2]

Slapu tried to steal the naughty girl child who stayed out too late on the beach, all those years ago, but the naughty girl turned nice and she asked help from a local crabber, who hid her on an island. Slapu ordered the crabber to take her to where he hid the girl. The tricky crabber sicced his crabs on her, and they dragged her down to the deep. He thought her defeated. All S’Kallams thought her defeated, but she was only nursing her pride.

From the deep, she sensed that much time had passed. Barnacles decorated her skin, seaweed clung to her wild hair where birds used to nest. Anemones made homes on her long, craggy fingernails. Her skin, once the color of cedar, was now pale from the deep, but she was still Slapu, eater of naughty children, and she sensed from her place in Port Gamble Bay the stench of naughty children. She swam in two strides from the deep to the surface. There, she smelled strange smoke and rancid drinks. She heard words unfamiliar, in a language she didn’t recognize, but she understood a curse when she heard one. 

Slapu swam to shore and prowled the beach, hiding behind a great piece of drifting log, her seaweed-covered hair just sticking up over the log. She watched as four naughty S’Klallam children in strange cloth, speaking that foreign language put smoking sticks to their mouths and threw bottles that contained the rancid smelling drinks to the sand. One naughty child kicked at a passing baby crab. Hunger pains stabbed at Slapu’s middle. It was time to feast once again.

She came upon the naughty S’Klallams, and snatched them before they could even scream in terror at the massive wild woman. She smiled wickedly as she plopped them, one by one, into her great cedar basket, and shook her head over the S’Klallam’s short memories. The naughty children threw unfamiliar words at her back, through her woven basket, pounding on the sides. Slapu laughed a grumbling laugh that sounded like an earthquake and shook the ground like one. The naughty children cried. Maybe she would let one of the children go. One child to remind the S’Klallams to fear her again. Her stomach rumbled as the pounding in her basket grew more frantic. If three were enough to satiate her hunger, one she could spare. One would remember, then all would remember. 

Slapu, the basket and children are fabricated from: Phyllostachys aurea, Typha latifolia, Rhododendron macrophyllum, Miscanthus sinensis, Thuja plicata, Phormium tenax, Sphagnum sp. , Stipa tenuissima

"KeKaiax (Wildman) Makes Salmon Jump Ashore"[3]

KeKaiax stomped in hunger across the sandy, shell-strewn shores of the beach. In the clear bay water, some salmon flipped in and out of the bay. His stomach rumbled like thunder. He called out, “If I were a spring salmon I would go toward the sound of rumbling thunder.” The salmon flipped closer to the shore. His stomach grumbled louder. “If I were a spring salmon, I would go evencloser to the sound of rumbling thunder.” The salmon flipped through the air, onto shore and into KeKaiax’s large, hairy hands. 

KeKaiax placed the fat salmon over the fire. As he waited for the salmon to cook, his eyelids grew heavy and he fell asleep by the warm fire. Kʷə́yŋsən[4]soared over the clear bay, looking for salmon, but they’d been scared away when KeKaiax took their brother. Hungry, he sniffed the air. The smell of dripping salmon oil and wood smoke lured him to the beach. There, he saw KeKaiax fast asleep by a roasting salmon. Kʷə́yŋsən flew to shore and carefully tugged the salmon off the stick above the fire. He quietly gobbled up the entire fish. When he was done, he rubbed the grease from his claws over KeKaiax’s hairy hands and placed delicate salmon bones between the wild man’s teeth, then soundlessly flew away with a full belly.

When KeKaiax woke, he could taste the salmon already. He eagerly sat up to take the salmon from the fire, realizing it had already been removed. He grunted and picked a thin bone from his tooth. His fingers tasted of salmon oil. I must have eaten the salmon in my sleep, KeKaix thought, though his stomach rumbled like thunder, still. Kʷə́yŋsən laughed from above.

KeKalax is fabricated from; Phormium tenax, Stipa tenuissima, Rhodocoma capensis, Trachycarpus fortunei, Sphagnum sp.,

 

Salmon are fabricated from: Acer macrophyllumand Rhododendron macrophyllum

 

"Raven and Crow Become Rocks"[5]

Sk̕ʷtúʔ[6]was the brother of Sk̕ʷaʔk̕ʷátuʔ[7]. Every day when they spread their black wings in the sky, they would notice more and more smoke clogging the air, from fires where people ate and gathered, from machines people operated, from pipes and sticks people held. Smoke was everywhere. Sk̕ʷaʔk̕ʷátuʔ asked his brother if he wished more people would come to the earth. Sk̕ʷtúʔ replied, “No, if more people come, it will be too smoky to see. It is already too smoky.” Sk̕ʷaʔk̕ʷátuʔ asked his brother to dance and pray for a solution. They danced and sang.

x̣áy̕əs[8]heard the brothers singing and dancing. He came to their camp. “I have heard your song. You wish things to change. I can only change you. What do you want to be? A dear, a frog, an elk? They do not have to fly through the smoke.” x̣áy̕əs awaited their answer. Sk̕ʷaʔk̕ʷátuʔ shook his head, “We will just be choked by the smoke closer to the ground, or starved if we are People.” His brother agreed and replied, “We will become rocks, earth. That way, the smoke cannot destroy us.” x̣áy̕əs  granted their request. The brothers now make up the rocks, sands and beaches of Clallam Bay. 

Raven and Crow are fabricated from: Trachycarpus fortuneiand Polystichim munitum

 

---------------------------------------

Acknowledgements

 

We thank these talented individuals for bringing Heronswood’s botanically inspired S’Klallam characters to life for all to enjoy this autumn season: Debby Purser, project designer, and artists Hannah Jones and Mariah Ordoñez. In addition, we thank Hannah for crafting these stories in a delightful, re-imagined way.

 

 

[1]These stories all have origins in S’Klallam oral tradition, some recorded by Erna Gunther and revived by still living storytellers. Hannah Jones, community member and spouse living on the S’Klallam reservation, has re-imagined three of her little S’Klallam’s favorite stories. 

[2]Re-imagined S’Klallam tale, based on Jonnie Cook and Mrs. Solomon stories from: Gunther, Erna. Klallam Folk Tales. Vol. 1:4. Seattle: U of Washington P, 1925. 149-151. Also based on Fernandes, Roger. The Story of Slapoo. Lower Elwha Tribe, 2007.

[3]Re-told S’Klallam tale, based on Mrs. Robbie Davis, Sagen Boas and Joe Samson stories from Klallam Folk Tales. 140-141, 161.

[4]Eagle

[5]Re-told S’Klallam tale, based on Mrs. Jennie Talicus story from Klallam Folk Tales. 121. 

[6]Raven

[7]Crow

[8]Changer, Transformer