Tlingit
Literature


Tlingit Vidoes

Aho, said Yeil, the wise man. Come closer. I have a story to tell. Rustling his feathers, he whispers, I shall tell you a story of how this place began. Leaping into the air, transforming into Raven, he flies to the treetop. Come, my people, and I will lead you to a far-off place. Here, under the glacier, there is an ice passage. It is waiting for you. Tlingit legends describe how ancestors traveled from British Columbia under the glaciers to the Southeast Alaska coast, perhaps via the Taku or Stikine river corridors. Legends and myths, mirrors into the soul of a culture, teach history, rules of behavior and respect for the natural world.

"Storytelling and stories are the corporate property of the clans, and other people are not supposed
to tell Tlingit stories." [quoted from a Tlingit Lecture by Phyllis A. Fast, Ph.D. at University of Alaska]

Stories

Arrow Chain
Adam and Eve
Beaver And Porcupine ver 1
Beaver And Porcupine ver 2
Bear, Raven, and Humans
DJY'N
First Totem Pole (Haida)
"fly by night mythology"
Gamn'tck!
Glacier Bay History
How Mosquito Came To Be
How Protestant Christianity Was First Heard Of At Sitka
How The Frogs Honored The Dead
How The Kksa'd Came To Sitka
How The Sitka Kksa'd Obtained The Frog
Inviting the Bears
Kh's!, The Strong Man
Kts!
KAK'Q!Ut
Kaka'
Katlian and the Iron People
Khanty Bear-Feast Songs
Migration Of The Gnaxa'd To Tongass
Noah's Flood
Story Of The Four Brothers
Story Of The Gonaqad't
Story of Totem Bight
Tlingit Housepost Stories
Tlingit Creation Story

Other Links

Alaska's Birds of Prey

Lda Kut Naax sati' Yatx'i
(All Nation's Children)


Tlingit Language:
Fonts, Reference, Software, Tutorial

It is told in some of the Tlingit legends that during Noah's flood the Athapascan tribe, as the waters subsided, landed in the area of the Arctic Circle. The theory of many writers is that the Athapascans came across the Bering Ice Bridge. This doesn't stand to reason. Why should a family or group of people: men, women, children, and older people go up North? Just to cross an Ice Bridge that they did not know existed? It was a cold, desolate, uninhabited place, dark during part of the year, without much variety of food and with no protection. This is not to say that a group of people could not land at such a place by accident. But to go there willfully, at great discomfort to the whole group, is not reasonable.

Tlingit National Anthem

as retold by Robert Willard Jr.
(Raven/Beaver Clan Elder)

Video

This is the story of the Tlingit National Anthem, a song that entwines our people with their past and keeps our ancient heritage alive. At potlatch ceremonies, Tlingit elders sing the anthem and tell how it came about-for many years in secret, for this ritual was long forbidden by the government-always passing the story on to the new generations.

Long ago, the Tlingit Indians lived in the area now called British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. They decided to move from this region of lakes to the great ocean-now called the Pacific-where they heard the fish were abundant. When all of the clans had assembled, they began a great trek through the mountain canyons leading to the sea.

After many, many miles, the way was blocked by a glacier that filled the canyon. To go back in search of a different route would be a long and wasting journey, so the leaders, both women and men, climbed the mountain to look for a safe way around the ice; there was none. But they saw a stream, flowing from the narrow mouth of the glacier, which emptied into a great bay on the distant side. The passage under the glacier seemed too dangerous, the ice caverns too narrow to pass through. Determined to continue the migration to the ocean, the leaders met to plot a new course.



Then, four woman stepped forward and volunteered to journey beneath the glacier. Two were barren, one was a widow, and the fourth was well along in years. Because the women had no children to nurture and protect, the leaders agreed to their risky plan. So the men built a raft of logs and the woman set forth early next morning. With renewed hopes the leaders once again climbed the mountain, keeping watch all morning and into the afternoon.

Toward evening, they heard distant voices calling from the bay. It was the four woman, waving their arms and shouting "We made it, we made it through, under the ice." Then, the youngest and strongest of the Tlingits set out for the other side. When they arrived, they began building large boats for the next part of the journey, and explored the region beyond the glacier for a safe place abundant in resources. Then, all of the Tlingit people followed behind them. After three days and three nights, they came through the ice caverns. So, they set up camps and rested.

The next day, the people asked the great spirit to be with them. They decided to row in all directions and settle as much unoccupied territory as possible. It was a sad, sad day as the people sang good-bye to their uncles and aunts and cousins and friends. They wept as they rowed, but it was the beginning of the Tlingit Nation, which today occupies more than twenty-three million aces of land and water in Southeast Alaska.


Indigenous Peoples' Literature Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Compiled by: Glenn Welker





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