Kaakaa and Kooshdaa Kwaani
As told by the Kiks.adi people,to whom it belongs.
This is a story about Kaakaa and how often the otter people (Kooshdaa Kwaani) took
him and brought him back to his people.
This story takes place during the spring season (taakw eeti). It is during this time of the
year when the people are busy working on yellow cedar bark (teey), which was used on
the rooftops of houses to prevent leaking. Every spring it was replaced. This was what
Kaakaa was going to work on.
(It is told that Kaakaa was not his given name, but the name given to him by Kooshdaa
Kwaani. His birth name was Kaakasateix.)
He left on his boat from Sheet'ka to Wak.kasati for the yellow cedar bark he would be
pulling for his house. As he was pulling the bark, his wife came to him and asked him to
follow her. She led him to the opposite side of Mt. Edgecumbe (L'ux). This was the land
of the otter people. She was not his wife, but a land otter. The otter appeared to him
as his wife (Kaakaa's wife had made the mistake of using the sinew from an otter's tail
the sew him an ear piece (kukeitl). This was around the ears. She put this on her husband,
which led the otter people to him.) He traveled with them not knowing where they went to.
At this place, A lady saw him and recognized him; she was his aunt (Aat) from his father's
side. (The same thing had happened to her; the otter people had led her away from her
people.) When she met him she said to her nephew (kaalk'w), "What happened? Come
here! Come here! Come home with me." She told him, "I have husbands, they had me
marry two of them. They will take you back." She told him, "Bring your face this way, this
is the cause of your being here." She pulled of the kukeitl his wife had put on his ears.
He stayed with his aunt for awhile until her husbands returned. When they returned they
started to travel with him back to his people. he had been taken a long way back from
Sheet'ka. He thought they were travelling by canoe but in reality they were swimming.
Because when he thought back he could remember feeling the kelp (geesh) moving
against his back while they were travelling. As they came near Sheesaank' dawn (Keex'e)
began to break. It was scary for them because daylight was coming upon them. If
raven sounded nothing would happen to the otter people (his aunt's husbands) but
Kaakaa would drown if Raven sounded while they were in the water. That is why they
were working hard to make shore with him before daylight broke.
They were caught in the strong tides (haat); the one that was paddling was having a
hard time going against the tide. He was asked to sing the song to help them move
forward, he started to sing the wrong verse and instead of them moving forward they
began to move backwardand almost slammed up against the point. He was told to
start the song again, to sing it back so they could make it to the shore. When he sang
it back they made it to the shore. Just as they were going into the woods the Raven
sounded at Sheesaank'.
That evening they began travelling again to Sheet'ka. They brought Kaakaa to a place
called Wasis, he met a lady there. She told him she was taken when she was a child.
The otter made her its child. She told him the otter people could communicate with
each other; even long distance communication was possible. That's how the otter
people were. "You see that canoe way over there? From here, they can tell someone
near there to push the boat this way. To them, the distance is not that far."
It is at this place that the elderly otter who raised the lady he met had given him
his name, Aakaa, meaning a person who sits all the time.
She told him, "If only you could float around by the point and fish small halibut (chaatl)
for me. They might as will just call you Aakaa." The name was changed to Kaakaa.
A canoe came upon him as he slept at the point on the the grass (chookan). As he stood up, they saw him. As he started toward the woods, they called him by his given name, Kaakasateix. "You have turned to only bones", they told him, "you are only bones".
The otter people told him, " That is what they always say to us. They are the Lingit Kwaani.
After Kaakaa was going to go back among his people, he turned into a
medicine man (ixt'). A man who was hunting heard his voice in the fog
(kugwaas'). He would hear it here and then there. As he would try to find
him, his voice would sound somewhere else. He gave up. Finally, another
boat went out to get him. They were the ones that finally got him. He had
become an ixt'.
His aunt's husbands that had brought him back near his home were named
Haatyayaa and L'it'isyeek. Charlie ended the story here. He also said because
of this story, the Kids.adi still have names from it. One is Teetlasaa.aak'w
and the other is Kaaxeetkanasgu.
Back to Legends