American Indian culture
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Pelican and Seagull
This version of the legend comes from Leo Frachtenberg's 1914 collection Lower Umpqua Texts.
Pelican does not live in rivers. He always travels (around) the ocean and gets food there. Then (one day) Sea-Gull said to him, "Why is it that you are an inhabitant of the sea [offshore] ? Why is it that you do not enter frequently into rivers ?" Then he answered thus: "Such a region (the river) is not good for me. The ocean contains lots of food." Thus only he said. "If you want food, then come to me." Thus he said to Sea-Gull. "The shore does not contain lots of food. (Only he) who knows the shore knows (how to obtain food)." Thus he said to Sea-Gull.
Thus (it came about that) Sea-Gull began to live in the ocean. Some time afterwards, (when Sea-Gull became) hungry, she said to Pelican, "It is very good that there is much food in the ocean. I know (from my own experience, that, if a) person lives in a creek, he is very hungry, because there is not much food in a creek." (So Pelican said,) "If you live in the ocean, and you come to me desiring fish, I shall always give it to you. Not even (once in) a long time do I feel hungry. Living in the ocean, I do not feel hungry." Thus Pelican said to Sea-Gull. And then Sea-Gull did thus. (Thereafter) she always lived in the ocean and ate mussels. Whenever anything died in the ocean, she would devour it after it had come ashore. Even though it would be something bad, still she would eat it. Such was the custom of SeaGull. Pelican was Sea-Gull's own relative.
Then at last Sea-Gull began to believe Pelican (when he said), "If you live near me, you will never get hungry. Although many people (live in the ocean), still they (all) eat there." In spite (of the fact that there were) many people, nevertheless Pelican killed [obtained food]. He dipped out for (Sea-Gull) lots of small fish on every place. (Once) they two came together, and Sea-Gull said to (Pelican) thus: "Never will I go back again to the creek." Thus said that Sea-Gull to Pelican. "I will give you a mountain near the ocean, there you will raise children." Thus said Pelican to Sea-Gull. "In the summer-time it is simply easy (to obtain) food in the ocean. Although there are many people, still they (all) eat (through the efforts made) by me. I obtain lots of food." Thus said Pelican to Sea-Gull. That is why Sea-Gull lives near the ocean, (because Pelican told her,) "You shall keep on living near the breakers." Thus she lives. During low tide she walks around near the water. Thus they two live. Everywhere sea-gulls keep on living thus. Then thus (Sea-Gull) thought: "Well, he told it to me." And that is why Sea-Gull came to live near the ocean. There, near the shore, she always tries to look for food. Then Pelican said thus: "They told me that you must stay here always." And Sea-Gull replied thus: " Nobody said anything to me, so how am I to know (that it is for) always?" Thus said Sea-Gull. "Somebody (must have) told you something (else), that is why you do not always agree. You will stay there forever. Whenever you want fish, you will always come to me. I can get lots of food." Thus spoke Pelican. Then Sea-Gull said thus: "I doubt whether I shall ever go anywhere (else). (No matter) how long a period elapses, I shall never go anywhere (else). I shall always stay here, forever."
Here now it ends. This is the finish. Such was the custom of Pelican and Sea-Gull in former days.
More stories to read:
Native American Indian bird legends
Myths about seagulls
Myths about the ocean
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