Tth’uwxe’le’ts — The Basket Ogress

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by Ruby Peter, Sti’tum’at of Kwa’mutsun

’i-i-i ts’u yath ’uw’ wi’wul’ thu Tth’uwxe’le’ts, sew’q’ ’u tthu stl’ul’iqulh.
Tth’uwxe’le’ts was always coming around looking for children.

’uy’st-hwus kws lhey’xt-s tthu stl’ul’iqulh ni’ ’u tthu tsa’luqw.
She liked to eat children up in the mountains.

sis m’uw’ t’at’uhw m’i ’e’wu ’u tthu shhw’is tthu hwulmuhw, wulh tetsul ’utl’ kwa’mutsun, yukwun’atul’ ’u thu skw’uyuth.
She would come down the mountain, coming here to where the First Nations people dwelled, arriving here at Quamichan, together with her slave.

yath ’uw’ kwune’tus nilh yaay’us ’u tthuw’ mukw’ stem tthu ni’ stl’i’s.
She was always had her with her to do all the work that she wanted done.

’i’ nilh thu skw’uyuths nilh ni’ kwukwun’ut, ’amust ’u tthuw’ stem ’ul’ stl’i’s.
And her slave was the one grabbing and taking to her whatever she wanted.

qux tthu mustimuhw ’i ’utl’ kwa’mutsun.
There were a lot of people here at Quamichan.

skwa’mutsun thu skw’uyuths, ’uhwiin’ slheni’.
Her slave was a humpback—a little woman.

wulh kwunnuhwus tthu stl’ul’iqulh, ’i’ ’uw’ hay tthu m’umun’lh ni’ kwukwun’utus.
She took the children. It was only the small children that she grabbed.

kwus wulh kwunnuhwus ’i’ ni’ nuw’ushus ’u tthu thi-i-i le’tsus, tsum’e’tus tthu le’tsus.
She grabbed them and put them in her big basket, packing the basket on her back.

suw’ hun’wush-s tthu stl’ul’iqulh ’u tthu le’tsusth.
And the children were put into her basket.

ha’ ni’ kwunnuhwus tthu t’xumulu stl’ul’iqulh ’i’ nilh sus ’uw’ tl’umst-hwus, ts’uhwle’ ’i’ te’tsselu.
When they took six children, that was usually enough, or sometimes eight of them.

’i’ nilh kwsus qw’ulutus tthu stl’ul’iqulh ’u kwsus wulh kwunnuhwus.
And then they would barbecue the children that they took.

’i’ nilh thu skw’uyuths nilh tswe’ yaay’s, thuytus.
And it was the slave’s job to prepare them.

wulh kwunnum ’utl’ Tth’uwxe’le’ts tthu t’xumulu, suw’ thut-s, “a-a-a, ni’ tl’am!”
When Tth’uwxe’le’ts had grabbed six children, she said, “Oh, that’s enough!

’uy’ kwun’s yuqwul’tsup, qw’ulum tst ’u tthu ni’ kwunnuhwut.”
You best build a fire and we’ll cook what we caught.”

suw’ thuythut-s yuqwul’tsup, thuytus thu skw’uyuths thu huy’qw.
So the slave built a fire.

ni’ wulh saay’st-hwus tthu pi’kwun, ni’ tse’ sht’uyum’t-s tthu stl’ul’iqulh.
So she got the big barbecue sticks ready to attach the children to.

susuw’ yuq’eq’up’utus yuhunum’st-hwus ’u tthu pi’kwun, xuxeem’ stl’ul’iqulh.
So she tied them up onto the barbecue sticks, the crying children.

kwus wulh ni’ yut’ut’uyum’tus tthu smuqw’iws ’u thu qulum’s.
And then she put balsam pitch into their eyes.

’i’ nilh kwus wulh t’uyum’tus ’u thu qulum’s suw’ xut’ust-hwus tthu stl’ul’iqulh,
And so she stuck it in the their eyes and she said the children,

“hwtqet ch thun’ qulum’! tth’up’nuhw ch ’u kw’ ’uw’ hay ’ul’ stitum’.
Close your eyes! Close your eyes real tight!

ha’ ch tse’ kwu’elh ni’ niihw tse’ yuxwnamut ’i’ tsuw’ hul’iqul’ kwun’s xunuq’t.”
When you you manage to get free, it will be easy for you to open your eyes.”

kwus wulh hay kwus yut’ut’uyum’tus tthey’ smuqw’iws ’u tthu qulum’s tthu stl’ul’iqulh, sq’eq’up’stum’ ’u tthu pi’kwun.
When she finished sticking the balsam pitch in the children’s eyes, she tied them up to the roasting sticks.

si-i-isuw’ t’un’utum sel’ts’ ’u thu huy’qw.
They were lined up side by side around the fire.

wulh saay’ wulh huy’qw thu huy’qw.
The fire was already burning.

wulh qwal, thu hay ’ul’ thi Tth’uwxe’le’ts wulh qwal,
And then the great big Tth’uwxe’le’ts said,

“aaa, nu stl’i’ kwunus qw’uyulush. nu stl’i’ kwunus qw’uyulush.
“Oh, I want to dance. I want to dance.

t’ilum tsun tse’. nilh tse’ ’un’ suw’ q’uwut.”
I will sing and you will drum.”

suw’ hun’ut-s thu skw’uyuths, “wa’thun ch!”
And she was calling out to her slave, “Sing the song!”

wulh tstl’um wulh t’ilum, suw’ wa’thuns thu skw’uyuth.
So she started to jump and sing, and the slave started to sing the song.


huy yay yu tsiin, huy yay yu tsiin
huy yay yu tsiin, huy yay yu tsiin
huy yay yu tsiin, huy yay yu tsiin

yutsetl’um’ hay ’ul’ thi.
She was jumping really high.

thithu thu squma’s ni’ yusel’q’um’.
Her big breasts were hanging down.

yusel’ts’ ’u tthu stl’ul’iqulh yut’it’ulum’.
She circled the children while she was singing.


huy yay yu tsiin, huy yay yu tsiin
huy yay yu tsiin, huy yay yu tsiin
huy yay yu tsiin.

wulh saay’ tthu skw’uyuths suw’ q’uw’ut.
Her slave was already drumming.

’i’ ’uw’ ni’ tthu sts’esht-s sus ’uw’ lhukw’shutus thu thi Tth’uwxe’le’ts.
And she took her staff and tripped the great big Tth’uwxe’le’ts.

si-i-is ’uw’ wutl’uts’ ni’ xwte’ ’u thu huy’qw.
And she tumbled into the fire.

sisuw’ hwusts’uts’e’ ’u thu huy’qw.
And she went right into the fire.

wulh kwe-e-etsum Tth’uwxe’le’ts, kwetsum.
And Tth’uxe’e’luts was screaming and screaming.

“ts’e-e-ewutham’sh! ts’ewutham’sh! xwum’ ts’ewutham’sh!”
“Help me! Help me! Hurry up and help me!”

“’uy’! ts’uwuthamu tsun tse’,” suw’ xut’us thu skw’uyuths.
“Okay, I will help you,” said her slave.

kwunutus tthey’ thi sts’esht-s, xut’u kwus ts’ets’uwutus,’i’ ni’ yuthextus, yuthe-e-extus, yuhun’wushus ’u thu huy’qw.
She took her big stick, though she was saying she would help her, but she was shoving her deeper into the fire.

wulh yuqw Tth’uwxe’le’ts ’i’ ’uw’ tuteem’, “ts’ewutham’sh! ts’ewutham’sh!”
And Tth’uxe’le’ts burned up, shouting, “Help me! Help me!”

“’i tsun ts’uts’uw’utha’mu! ’i tsun ’uw’ ts’uts’uw’utha’mu!”
“I’m helping you! I AM helping you!”

’i’ nilh yuthextus yuhun’wushum’ ’u thu huy’qw.
But she was in fact pushing her deeper into the fire.

wulh yuqw Tth’uwxe’le’ts, yukwukwtsem’.
And Tth’uwxe’le’ts burned up, screaming.

kwus wulh yuqw ’i’ ni-i-i’ lhakw’ tthu qwa’tsup, lhakw’ tthu qwa’tsups.
When she was burning, the cinders were flying.

sus ’uw’ yu’eeye’q, n-i-i-i’ hwu sqw’uli’qw’lush, hay ’ul’ qux sqw’uli’qw’lush, hay ’ul’ qux kwus nuts’tul.
And they changed into little birds, many little birds, many different kinds of birds.

’uli’uy’mut thu sqw’uli’qw’lush ni’ wil’ kwus nem’ lhakw’ tun’ni’ ’u thu Tth’uwxe’le’ts.
The little birds that came flying out of Tth’uwxe’le’ts were very beautiful.

’i’ ’uw’ stitiya’xw thu skw’uyuths wulh me’shum tthu stl’ul’iqulh, xuxeem’.
And the slave got busy freeing the crying children.

me’shum sus ’uw’ yuxwutum, mukw’ nuw’ yuxwutum.
She freed all of them from their bonds.

sus ’uw’ hulinamut tthu stl’il’iqulh, hulinamut.
And the children were saved.

ni’ q’ay thu Tth’uwxe’le’ts ni’ yuqw.
Tth’uwxe’le’ts burned up dead.

ni’ ’eeye’q ni’ hwu sqw’ulesh.
She was changed into birds.

ni’ hay thu sqwul’qwul’, hay.
That’s the end of the story.

Told by Ruby Peter on September 22, 2016.
Sound recording and editing by Donna Gerdts.
Transcribed and translated by Donna Gerdts and proofread by Ruby Peter.