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The Man and the Land-Otters

This version of the legend comes from Birket-Smith and de Laguna's 1928 collection The Eyak Indians of the Copper River Delta, Alaska. The storyteller was identified as an Eyak shaman known in English as Old Man Dude.

One man went hunting all the time in a canoe. He went on the beach, got out of canoe, alone. Soon he got up. He hears something. On the side of the canoe. He see two brown bear's hands. He grabbed the tree because he was afraid. When he looked back at canoe the bear was gone. Bear looked back and saw the man up the tree. The man had a spear. When the bears came to the tree, he killed both. One bear watched them and went to the hole to call another bear. Thousand bear coming. The man cleaned them all up. The watchman bear called more bears. The man is tired now. The watchman bear got some more bears. The man saw a big waterfall and went under it. The bear was looking for him but couldn't find him.

Two days man stayed there. Then he went to salt water. He see another canoe coming. He had two brothers. The brothers found him.

"Come on!" they said. "We've found him."

He go to the canoe. He went home. He had a wife and two children. It was dark when he lay down. He got up in the night. He looked at his wife. She was a Land-Otter! He thought he was home but it was a Land-Otter's hole. He killed all the Land-Otters with a piece of stick. He went out.

It was too far to walk home. He went and when he saw something to eat he ate it. Sometime he saw a canoe. It belonged to the Land-Otters. The Land-Otters had taken his brother, who had drowned, how long time ago. He had turned into a Land-Otter.

The Land-Otter asked him: "Do you recognize me?"


It was his brother who had turned into a Land-Otter.

"How long ago the Land-Otters got me! I know what they do. The Land-Otters are people." The Land-Otter said: "Let's go home. I'll take you home."

The man was scared. The Land-Otter, took his brother on his back and took him into the water. He didn't feel the water. He saw everything under the water. He didn't know how long, but his brother took him home and said: "Now you go ashore."

He saw his wife. He killed his wife. He eat her. Then he went back to the Land-Otters' home. He was a devil already.

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More stories to read:

 Native American ghost stories
 Native American otter legends

Learn more about:

 Eyak language
 Eyak culture
 Eyak stories
 Native Alaskans

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