The Shanaghan How did the Shanaghan help her people?

Sarah Abel’s story of shanaghan and the shih

In those days, what the people lived through was really hard, Grandchild. Today, every person can survive. They can’t camp one night without food. Then, we would get weak and wouldn’t live well. At that time, sometimes there would be no meat for a long time. Even so, not knowing how soon they were going to see meat, they moved around, moved around. Finally they came to where there was meat. The shanaghan made ch’idreedhoh vał. They pulled their little tents with them, walking on the trails, in those days. Then, Grandchild, the shanaghan on the trail stayed with the people.

In those days, the shanaghan would never camp in the middle of the people. When the people were moving down from high country on a hard trail, they would camp away from the main camp and make fire. They camped by the river. As they were moving down over the mountain, the snow was melting so it was good. Even from a long ways away, their tracks were white. She knew that, the shanaghan. She was pulling her little ch’idreedhoh vał on the trail. Following behind, she was tired and cold.

The shanaghan kept looking back. Just then, way up on the mountain they had come over, she saw a big black thing on the trail. She really got scared so she made a small fire on the middle of the trail, and then she spoke out to the people: “Way up there on the melting snow we came over, I looked back. Really, I think I saw an animal walking. Be alert. Don’t sleep tonight,” she told them.

Well, Grandchild, amongst us sometimes are those who are not wise. Those people laughed at her. They thought she was lying. But the shanaghan knew she saw something. She made her doorway small and narrow. She tied rope all over her house and made it really strong.

Now, all the people went to sleep. Then there was a big noise. In those days, when a shih lived in the winter, his fur was all iced up and he made a lot of noise when he walked, they say. While the shanaghan was warning the people that he was coming, the shih was walking down through the timber. She found a large stump and hollowed out the top of it. She tied it with rope so it wouldn’t break. Then she put lots of dry branches, kindling and cinders in it.

Just as she finished, the shih arrived, noisy. She lit the stump. In the middle of her house, she built up the fire to see him clearly. She looked outside, and then he tried to come in but the doorway was too narrow. He couldn’t come in, the shih. While he was trying to get in, she put the stump on his head. She kept pushing it on his head, that shanaghan. The stump didn’t break because she had tied it well with rope. Then he went away and he was angry when it ignited. It didn’t come off his head; his head was really stuck. It blew up, far up. She never heard it, they say. It didn’t make a noise.

In the morning when everybody was still sleeping, the shanaghan made a fire. She untied her door and went outside to look around for the shih. He was laying there, they say. The shanaghan spoke out loudly. “You told me I was lying! Come and see!” she told them. Ahh! Everybody got up. “What is the shanaghan talking about up there?” They gathered around her. The big shih lay there, dead. It was all covered in ice. Well, Grandchild, they didn’t have much meat, and she fed the people.