Turtle Goes Before a Council

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told by Gwen Bear (.wav, 775k)

Wolastoq Shore

Turtle swam under the water until he felt safe from the people who had tried to harm him for killing their chief. He finally surfaced smiling and making rude comments to some nearby girls who were washing their clothes on some logs. The girls screamed and ran home to tell the people in the village. “You said you drowned Turtle,” they said. “He wasn’t very dead when he spoke to us.”

Turtle Sunning Himself

When the people heard this, they cried, “We’ll kill him wherever he is. He tricked us by acting afraid.” So they went down to the Wolastoq to hunt for Turtle, but he was not there. They paddled along the shore in their canoes and eventually some girls found him lying on his back, sunning on a rock. The men seized Turtle and yelled at him, “You are not going to kill any more of our chiefs!” Turtle replied, “Why didn’t he come as a man, so that I could tell he was a Chief? He came as a bird, so how was I to know?” But the people refused to hear his excuses and took him to the hall where they held their councils.


While they were holding council, Koluskap and Mikumwesu arrived. Seeing what was going on, Koluskap said to Mikumwesu, “Uncle’s in a bad state and it’s my doing. My power made him kill the Chief because I wanted to have some fun with him. We’ll wait until they’re torturing him before we let him know we are here. Perhaps the people will tell us when it is time.” After the people held council over Turtle, they started to torture him by burning him with firebrands. They then wished to drag him through the fire. Turtle begged them to stop, but they would not. Finally one of them said, “Why don’t we ask Mikumwesu to come see the fun?” So they went down and informed Mikumwesu. On the way up to the fire, Koluskap said to Mikumwesu, “See, I told you they would let us know.”


When they came to the spot where the people were torturing Turtle, Koluskap pretended not to know his uncle, who was all covered with ashes. “Oh,” shrugged Koluskap, “it’s just a wooden plate.” Just as the people were going to throw Turtle into the fire again, he screamed, “Please, don’t!” When Koluskap heard him speak, he laughed and said, “Why, is that you, Uncle?” He walked up to Turtle and turned him into a man. Lo and behold there was a fine looking man standing where a turtle had been a moment before. “What is the trouble here?” asked Koluskap. Turtle recounted the whole story of accidentally killing the bird Klu, who turned out to be the Chief of the people, playing the trick on the people and swimming away.

Turtle as a Man

Koluskap said to Turtle, “They can’t kill you for killing a bird. Some chiefs have birds which they send around.” By now all of the people were whispering among themselves, sensing that the great man must be Koluskap. When they determined this for sure, they went up to Koluskap and asked his forgiveness, saying they did not know Turtle was his uncle. Then Koluskap and Turtle left the village.