In the beginning, there was nothing but water….

Notes from Frachtenberg ethnography on this story when he interviewed Jim Buchanan (born on Coos Bay some time in the late 1840s, died 1933) in 1909; the story below is the Creation story Jim Buchanan told, I’ve retranslated it from the Hanis language: Land created by the milaq chanigha [arrow young men]…the account of creation begins at a time that already existed; the heaven (sky) and the ocean. No wind, no breakers…. The father of [5th trickster] after he was left in this world by this son created everything that was not yet created by the milaq chanigha. We are the yoqauchimiix me (last people). Before us there lived the iilahiix me (the first people).

Mi’laq chanigha

Arrow young men

Yuxwe lo chanigha

Two (were) the young men

ux jinayam

they (two) were each coming along

asitl jinetich jinayam

halfway along they each were coming

hi’nii ux yuuyuu

there they (2) stopped.

“xchiichuutl, I lau is k’int?”

How would it be, if we (2) try it?”

“loghii il, yuutl is k’int.”

“Good indeed, if we try it.”

“toqe’en hluuwech yuutl is k’int.”

We should try it with blue clay.”

katomis leux hewis toq’e’en.

They had 5 pieces of blue clay.

Ux yuuyuu

They (2) stopped [travelling].

Yixei ux tuuwitits baltiimisech

One they (2) dropped into the ocean.

K’e tl’ta u qais

The world was without land.

Hats tluuwe’ench nbaltiimisa

It was just wholly ocean.

Asuu yixei ux tuuwiitits

again they dropped one.

Tsuunuu lau kwilolenii lo baltiimis

The ocean rolled to and fro

Helmiihis asuu yixei ux tuuwiitits

The next day again they dropped one.

Hats qaishinis ux yuuyuu

just then they stopped at a small place.

Tsuu asuu yixei ux tuuwiitits

Now again they dropped one

xqawax lau kwina’iiwat

From above they were looking down.

Qehlch ux kwinait

They (2) looked down.


It began to come up from the water.

Ux kihluuwit to tl’ta

They (2) saw that land there.

Hekwa’in lowii heux ilwechis, I lau qapiiyachiiye

Their hearts were awfully glad, when that (land) began coming up from water.

Helmiihis asuu yixei ux tuuwiitits

The next day again they (2) dropped one

enek lo tl’ta

The land sticks out

ux kwina’iiwat ho hemkwitis

They (2) were looking at the heavy waves.

Hats yiqa xwench witl’tl’enii lo xap

Now still the water went back and forth

Hats yiqa xqawax ux kwina’iiwat

Now just from above they (2) were looking at it

“chiichuu ye ilwechis?

How is your heart?

Is k’int hantl asuu?”

shall you and I try it again?”

“Diihlchechuu hantl to is k’int”

“With what shall we try it?”

ta lau yiqa xwench wiitl’tlennii to xap.

And still the water went back and forth.

“To ch’ishil huutl is yuuqat

We should split that tule mat.”

“xle’ich hantl is k’int.”

“We (2) shall try it with it.”

a’yuu xle’ich ux k’int.

Surely they (2) tried it with that.

Xqawax lau chii ux hituuts

From above they (2) put it down.

Siitlnii lau chii ux hituuts

They put it down there joined together.

Ux alqsaya

They (2) were afraid of it.

Chii ux hlnq

There they (2) went down.

Aiwa in toqaitlis leux hewis tl’ta, I lau chii ux hituuts ho ch’ishil.

Their new land still was not solid, when they put that tule mat there.

Tsuu k’wtsii

Now it was held back.

Hats yiqa xwench witl’ii lo xap lo ch’ishiliich

Now still the water went over the tule mat.

Tsuu xwench iilt

Now one said,

“To kawil hantl is yuuqat.

We (2) shall split that pack basket.

Yiku lau in lowii?”

wouldn’t that be good?”

tsu a’yuu lau ux yuuqat.

Now indeed they (2) split it.

A’yuu lau chii ux hituuts

indeed they put it down there.

Siitlnii lau chii ux hituuts

They put it down there joined together.

Tsuu hlche’isech lau ux hituuts

Now they (2) put it down on the beach.

Tsaxwits hlche’is leux hewis tl’ta

Their new land was a sand beach.

Chii lau ux hituuts

There they (2) put it down.

Yuuqii lo kawil

The pack basket split.

Tsuu k’wtsii lo giluumis

Now the waves were held back.

Tsuu shil xwenchiiye, I lau k’wtsii

Now then that’s how it got, when they were held back.

Hats qehlch xwamtat lo xap

now the water went down (through the basket)

tsuu chii ux hlnq

Now they (2) went down there.

Asuu k’wtsii

Still it was held back.

Asuu qehlch xwamtat to xap

Still that water went downwards (through the basket).

Qehlch chii ux hlnaqa

they (2) went down there (to the land)

lau ux tl’xiiniiwat

they were examining it

“tsuu hantl tsi yiqa xwench

Now it shall simply be this way.

Tsuu lowii yi xwench.”

It’s good this way.”

tsuu ux hluuxtaya leux hewis tl’ta

Now they (2) looked around their new land.

K’enikin u qais

The world was without trees.

“xchiichuu ye’ ilwechis?

How is your heart?

Guus qanch hantl yixei is lemiiyat?”

Shall we 2 stand one up everywhere?

“lowii hantlel, yantl xwench

“It’d be good should it be so.”

Tsuu a’yuu guus qanch yixei ux lemiiyat lo mexeye u kwexw

Now surely they (2) stood up an eagle’s feathers everywhere.

Hla u hauwe leux hewis tl’ta

Their new land grew.

Manch qawax hla u hauwe leux hewis tl’ta

Already they grew tall in their new land.

“Kwiiyahl hantl hats is hluuxtaya”

Now we (2) shall watch them.

a’yuu ux hluuxtaya

Surely they (2) watched them.

Lo mexeye u kwexw lau lewi to tskwahtlis

The eagle’s feathers those are the douglas fir trees.

“Guus diihl hantl hewii.”

All things shall grow.”

wench tl’exom

thus one was speaking,

a’yuu guus diihl hewii

Sure enough all things were growing.

“Xchiichuu ye’ ilwechis, yuutl nch’aha diihl.

How is your heart, if there would be walking ones (animals).

In lowii hantl, I lau k’ench’aha diihl

It wouldn’t be good, if there were no animals.

Lowii hantl, I lau nch’ahadiihl

It’l be good when there are animals.

Yiqanchimiix me hantl lau kwina’iiwat.”

The last generation (the people to come) shall see you.”

tsxayat lau ux sitsiint heux hewis tl’ta

Early in the morning they (2) visited their ready land.

Haqati hla’aya hlcheisiich leux nhewis tl’ta

There were tracks going on the beach on their ready land.

“Yiku witiiye to shku hi’nii hla?”

Who is it that goes there?”

tsuu lau ux tkwiitltsuuwat

Now they (2) were following him.

Ux kitiiwita

Now they (2) over took him.

Ch’e me xne’et

The back of someone was on top (of a log).

Chii halqait.

They climbed up to him there.

“E’ne shiliiye, to shku e’jii.

Indeed it is you, that you must have come.

E’chiichuu me?”

What sort of person are you?”

“Niloxqainis me il.”

“I am a medicine person.”

malukwoch hltayau le le

His face was painted with red ochre

“E’ne shil.

You are indeed.

En qanch yixume

You are not to travel here.

To lau nhauxts to tl’ta

That land there I made.

A’yuu e’ilxqainis ii?”

Are you sure you’re a medicine person?”

me qosqayu.

The person was beaten.

Me tsuutsuu.

The person was killed.

“En hantl diihl.”

You shall be nothing.”

guus qanch lau qoqaishuu le witin

His blood scattered everywhere.

“Xyiqanchimiix me hantl e’kwinaihl.”

The last people shall see you.”

asuu xletix ux huutltet.

Again they (2) returned from there.

Hats k’ehuwawas mitsiiltiiye.

Just without delay (he) became pregnant.

In chiich hau tl’iich ho ala

The child had no way to get out.

“Yikwantl is xchiichiiye?

What may happen to us?

Lowii yuutl is nhuumekehe.”

It’d be good if we had wives.”

ma in chiich xahlt.

He had done nothing.

Ma ux in chiich xahlt.

They had done nothing at all.

Ma lau mitsiiltiiye.

But even so he’d become pregnant.

Ta lau qanuucha hlnuwit lo ala

And that child pulled to the outside.

Hats in qanch lau tl’iich la ala

The child had no place to go out.

Tsuu me iilt

Now then he sent a person.

Bilche me iilt

He sent a person to the ocean.

“Hi’nii hantl me tluuwakats.

There will be a person living there.

Lowii me.

A good person.

Lau hantl shin hlatsaya.”

you (plural) will go get him.”

Tsuu a’yuu hlatsutem.

Now indeed someone went after him.

A’yuu ixoch ihl jii baltiimisiich.

Sure enough they came with a canoe over the ocean.

“Yuu sho han xchiichiiye, tsi nk’egiluumis?”

How can it be this way, there are simply no waves?”

a’yuu giluumis hewitsqom

Indeed the waves made themselves ready.

“katomisen is hantl qahilmix.

Five times we (2) will have a north wind.

Katomis hantl lo qaitlawas.”

There’ll be five breakers.”

A’yuu yiqa xwench

Indeed right away it was so.

A’yuu lau hlaqa’iiwat katomis qaitlawas.

Indeed they waited for five breakers.


One was counting them.

Xkatomisis qaitlawasoch hantl hiiyet’

On the fifth breaker they will go ashore.

A’yuu yiqa xwench

Indeed it was so.

Xchiich he lo chinehenii, lau a’yuu yiqa xwench.

Whatever he was thinking, it was that way.

A’yuu hiyet’.

Indeed he went ashore.

Kihluuwit lo mitsiile

He saw the pregnant one.

A’yuu tlchiiyat ho ala

indeed he brought the child out.

Hei shil kweikiiye

Indeed it was a girl.

Xletix lau hlaixtset lox kweik alahiich

From that girl the people began.

His inhlheniiyeos lau hewii

It wasn’t long that all began to grow.

Xletix lau hlaixtset

From there it started.

Lau xwench to lau nmehenet

Thus the world became peopled.

Xletix hau nantu lo me

From there the people became many.

Iniioxana lau huumisisenii

They marry one another (continually).

Tsuu ux qahyuwatiiye

Now they (2) began to travel.

Ux tl’xiiniiwat leux hewis tl’ta

They (2) were examining their (2) ready land.

Lowii shil

Indeed it was good.

Guus diihl hlaixtset hox kwinauch

Everything began to have its present appearance.

“tsuu hantl tsi yiqa xwench”

Now it shall just always be this way.”

iikii ux nkwaxtla

Both had bows.

“Xchiichuutl I qaisoch lau is k’wint?”

How would it be if we shoot at the sky?”

Tsuu a’yuu ux k’wint.

Now they shot (at it).

Ux kwina’iiwat, I lau hla lo mi’laq.

They were looking, as their arrows went.

“His hantl exkan yixei e’k’wintl

You also shoot one arrow.

Len k’walep hantl e’tuuhits.

It will hit the arrow shaft.

Yiqax hantl kwa is yixei

It’ll be as though they are one.

In tl yuu hlnuwii k’winto.”

Don’t hit it too hard.”

a’yuu k’wint.

Indeed he shot it.

A’yuu tuuhits.

Indeed he hit it.

“Kwiiyahl asuu k’winto.”

Now shoot it again.”

siitlniihiiye leux mi’laq

Their (2) arrows became joined together.

Qehlche tsixtii helaq leux mi’laq, I lau ux siitltlanaya

Downward here their arrows climbed, when they became joined together.

Tsuu a’yuu ux kwina’iiwat leux mi’laq siitlnii

Now they looked at their arrows joined together.

“Xchiichuu ye ilwechis, yuutl hi’nii is helaq?”

How is your heart, should we (2) climb there?”

“Lowii uutl il”
“Certainly it’d be good.”

ux lishit.

They (2) shook it.

“Lau toqaitlis ii?

Is it solid?

In kwantl chautat ii?”

Will it come apart?”

“Hamiitl e’ne e’helaq.

“Please, you climb up.


Try it.

Tsuu hantl kasiiye exintset.”

Now you will almost be on top.”

tsuu a’yuu helaq.

Now indeed he climbed.

“Ma shil lowii.”
“But indeed it is good.”

Tsuu his xe helaq.

Now also he (the other one) climbed.

Tsuu iikii qaxanch ux xintset.

Now both had gotten on top high up.

Xqawax qelch ux ilx.

They both looked down from above.

Hekwa’in lowii xkwinauch leux hewis tl’ta.

Very beautiful is the appearance of their new land.

In kwe’eniiyem chiich ux iitsem.

No one knows what became of those two.

Xwench tla kwe’eniiyem.

No one knows.

Tsuu yiqainii ewiixom.

Now right here it ends.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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