The Shanaghan How did the Shanaghan help her people?

Myra Kaye’s story of two shanaghan and the vadzaih on the mountain

In the summer we killed lots of vadzaih and dried lots of meat. The women hunted tthaa and dried them. Girls your age made tthaa strips and dried them. They put sticks in them to spread them so they could dry properly. Their mothers put it in a bag later. They also had a big pile of food; that was what we lived on.

Before August, those who had a tthał travelled back there. When there were lots of vadzaih , in August, people went back to their tthał and set snares.

In March, before the caribou came, we set up camp in the mountains. Here the elderly pulled these toboggans and snowshoes. It was hard to get birch [for toboggans] so the old sometimes pulled their blankets. This is how hard it was in those days.

I only saw some of what I’m talking about. I will not talk about things that happened before my time.

After spring passed, we went over the mountain pass. The old men travelled as I said. Somewhere along the creek, it was said that two shanaghan had two zhoh kahn beside each other. There were lots of glaciers around there. On the glacier, there were lots of daagoo on the willows. There were no geh there, only daagoo . They made snare fences to capture the daagoo . Sometimes they killed lots of daagoo . This is what they did.

In the meantime, people travelled in the timber. Up around Nichìh Ddhah [Rosehips Mountain], in the valley there was a glacier where these two shanaghan set their snares. The geh and daagoo knew the snares were there so the shanaghan didn’t catch any. They set the snares somewhere else, along the creek where they got geh and daagoo . Just when they moved their snares, caribou came in sight on the mountain ridge.

One shanaghan had shaman abilities, I guess. “Up there,” she said. Up the valley, on top of the snow crust was a bunch of vadzaih . Just then — you know when on a bluff there’s a mudslide — this happened with the snow — an avalanche. All the vadzaih were like the wind blew them. The snow was like it was mixed with water — slush. Some of the vadzaih were pushed across the creek.

The shanaghan dug the vadzaih out of the snow. They had a cache full of dry meat when the people returned. This is how the elders were cared for. They were only snaring daagoo and instead they each had two caches full of dry meat.

The shanaghan did this, they say.