The Stolen Salmon

Click the video player to watch a short video of the 2016 Dell'Arte International + Tsek Houdaqh shadow play based on this story!

This story was told in slightly different versions by Jerry James (published in Reichard, Gladys A., 1925, Wiyot Grammar and Texts, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 22(1):1-215) and Della Prince (published in Teeter, Karl V. & John D. Nichols (1993), Wiyot Handbook. Memoir 10, Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, University of Manitoba, pp. 24-26). Spellings have been converted to the approved Wiyot writing system, and English translations have been modified to sound more natural.

This story tells about how salmon were released into the world by the folk hero Rrak Shoura Lhughilh / Rrak Shou'r Lhugilh 'Southwest-Young-Man' or 'He-Who-Goes-Down-West'. Someone (it's never clear exactly who) dammed up all the fish to keep them hidden from people, but Rrak Shou'r Lhugilh gets wise to the secret and lets them loose so that people can catch and eat them. [A similar Yurok story referenced in Teeter & Nichols can be found here.]

A third, shorter version of the story was recorded in English by A.L. Kroeber and can be downloaded here. The Wiyot speaker ("a man named Bob") who told the story to Kroeber referred to the story's hero as Gatswouqhire (instead of Rrak Shoura Lhughilh / Rrak Shou'r Lhugilh), and said that the one who hid the salmon was Gou Datrri Gaqilh ('Above-Old-Man', e.g. Creator).

Differences in pronunciation between the two versions of the story (same words & meaning, but pronounced slightly differently) are underlined. Differences in wording are in bold print, with an explanation in the Notes column.

For a downloadable printout of the Jerry James & Della Prince versions of the story, click here.

Wiyot (Jerry James)Wiyot (Della Prince)EnglishNotes
1. Rrak Shoura Lhughilh hi gawu dalilh, rralitguk vulhu rrudalilh.Rrak Shou’r Lhugilh hi gawu dalilh, rralitguk hi rrudalilh.Southwest-Young-Man [He-Who-Goes-Down-West] started off. He went into the mountains. vulhu is probably a pronunciation of vulh/wulh 'emphatic'; hi means roughly 'and then'.
2. Viwi’ va wulhal.Viwi’, dula dawikuvilh.He went looking for fish. / He looked around for fish [literally, "what one eats, food"]va wulhal 'he went looking'; dula dawikuvilh 'he looked around for it'
3. Galu wulou’ malhuk qhili’ (lugaw).Galu wulou’, valhuk, qhuli lugu’.There were no salmon around here.Literally, 'No salmon were seen here in that place.'
4. Gawu rriredarilh.Gawu rri'redarilh.He was nearly there.Literally, 'He began to approach.'
5. Hiyu wulilh shagichu’n lhu gawu lhwulh.Hiyu wulilh shaghichu’n lhu gawu twulh.He saw madrone berries about ready to fall.
6. Hi naghilh, “Gasunuwilh gitga.”Hi naghilh, “Gawu ga’sunuv, gitga.”He thought, "I'm going to [start to] pick them up."gasunuwilh = 's/he picked things up one by one'; ga’sunuv = 'I pick it/them up'; gawu = 'start to'
7. “Louluwu’ gitga.”Louluwu gitga.”"I'm going to take/carry them."
8. Da dalilh.Hi da dalilh.He kept going.hi means roughly 'and then'; it is used often in storytelling.
9. Gula gou lhawi lughilh.Gula biwu lhawi’ lughilh.He didn't go [very] far.gou = 'again, back'; biwu (in combination with gula) = '[not] much'
10. Da qhi youwilh.Da qi youwilh.He arrived [at his destination].
11. Ga qi rrougaduqh.Ga biwu rrougaduk.[Upon arriving,] he hadn't been there [very] long.qi = upon arriving/on arrival; biwu (in combination with ga ... rrougaduk) = '[not] much long time', e.g. not very long
12. Gaplhouy’.Gaplhouy.They began to eat.
13. Hi rou gaplhouy’.Hi rou gaplhouy.Then they all began to eat.
14. Hi naghilh, “Jouwa gitga hanulu’:”Hi naghilh, “Juwa gitga ha’nulu:”He thought, “This is what I’m going to say:”
15. “Hinarru malh houtwu’.”Rru malh, na houtwu.”"I brought our/my food [before]."Hinarru = 'we/our'; Rru = 'my'
16. Kouluwouy’ lughiskiwilh.Kouluwilh, rughulhi’.He went up to his quiver. / He was carrying a quiver.Kouluwouy’ and kouluwilh are both from the verb koul 'to hold/carry'. Kouluwouy’ is a word for 'quiver' that literally means 'one holds/carries it' (probably because a quiver holds arrows); lughiskiwilh = 's/he goes up to it'. Kouluwilh = 's/he holds/carries it'; rughulhi’ = 'quiver made of tule'.
17. Hi lhenuwilh bitwulilh da dalasilh.Hi lhenuvilh bitwula’lhaqh hi dalasilh.He took them [the berries] out and put them in a basket plate.bitwulilh = 'plate basket'; bitwula’lhaqh = 'in/on a plate basket'; da = 'progressive'; hi = 'and then'
18. Galu wulou’ viwi’Galu wulou’ viwi’There was no fish. [Literally, 'no food was seen.']
19. Shawutsk ji wulh gou da dou daqh, ji wulh hi lou dawiklha’w.Shaghutsk ji vulh gou da dou daqh, ji vulh daqoun dawilha’w.The people who lived there were looking at small round red things. [These were the madrone berries; they were led to think they were salmon roe.] hi = 'and then'; lou = ??; daqoun = 'they'
20. Gidubulouy’.Gidubulouy.They finished eating.
21. Hi kounurr.Hi kou’nurr.It got dark.
22. Hi naghilh, “Gitga wulh ji wulh da.”Hi naghilh, “Gitga vulh ji vulh da.”He thought, “I’m going to stay here.”
23. Hiruwulhar hiyu wulilh gourru guduwiqu’l.La duruwulhari’, hiyu wulilh hou guduwiqu’l.The next day he saw that one [someone] coming in. Hiruwulhar and duruwulhari' are related words meaning 'the next day'; la = ??; gourru = 'that one'; hou = 'his/her'
24. Malhuk gou da wouluwouy’.Valhuk da louluwilh.That one [the man] was bringing/carrying salmon.gou = 'that one'
25. Rrak Shoura Lhughilh hi nughilh, “Gilhi gaqoum gida viwi’ da daru voughurr.”Rrak Shou’r Lhugilh hi naghilh, “Wugilh hi gaqou’m gida viwi’ gou dalu vougu’n.”Southwest-Young-Man/He-Who-Goes-Down-West thought, “Now I think I know [where] the fish is hidden.”Gilhi is a shortened form of wugilh or wourrugilh = 'now'; hi = 'and then'; da daru voughurr = 'they are put away/hidden around'; gou dalu vougu’n = 'that [place] where they are put away/hidden around'
26. “Ji wulh gitga da.”“Ji vulh gitga yilulh da.”“[As for me], I’m going to stay here.”yilulh = 'as for me'
27. Hiyu vouyughurruk tighudalilh.Hi vouyughurruk hi tighudalilh.[Then] in the afternoon, he went out.Hiyu = past tense; hi = 'and then'
28. Hi naghilh, “Vaklhamu gitga.”Hi naghilh, “Vaklham gitga.”He thought, “I’m going to go watch.”
29. Hiyu wulilh jitwurr viwi’ daru voughurr daludawigh.Hiyu wulilh ji viwi’ dalu vougu’n, daludawik.He saw where the fish were put away/hidden, in a pond.jitwurr = 'that way' (??); ji = 'that's where'; voughurr = 'they are put away/hidden'; vougu’n = 'where they are put away/hidden'
30. Hiyu wayitanulisouy.Hi wayitanulisou’y.Something [a dam] was arranged all around the top of it.Hiyu = past tense; hi = 'and then'
31. Hi naghilh, “Ji wulh gitga da, guluva gitga gas gou lugh.”Hi naghilh, “Ji vulh gitga da, rrougul va, gitga gas gou lugh.”He thought, “I’m going to stay here, and after a while I’ll go back.”guluva and rrougul va are two ways of saying 'after a while'
32. Gawu siswek, gou gaplhouy’.Gawu siswek, hi gou gaplhouy.Early in the evening [when it started to get dark], they began to eat again.hi = 'and then'
33. Hi gou2 wulilh gou1 guduwiqu’l, valhuk guduvouluvouy’.Hi gou2 wulilh hou guduwiqu’l, valhuk hi gou2 guduwouluwouy.Again he saw that one [someone] come in, bringing salmon again.gou1 = 'that one'; hou = 'his/her'; hi = 'and then'; gou2 = 'again, back'
34. Gidubulilh.Gidubulilh.They/he finished eating.
35. Siswek hi yililh, “Gou lugh gitga.”Siswek hi yililh, “Gou lugh gitga.”When it was dark, he said, “I’m going to go back.”
36. Gou lughilh.Hi gou lughilh.[Then] he went back.hi = 'and then'
37. Gourru viwi’ daru vougu’n hiruwu taruwilh.Gourr viwi’ gou da vougu’n huruwu ta’ruvilh.Those fish, where they were kept, he threw [the dam] all away.daru = 'around'; gou da = 'where they were...'
38. Hi ya gou dawilhamilh.Ya gou dawilhamilh, …[And then] he looked back, …hi = 'and then'
39. Hiyu wulilh vurrachi gawu dalilh.…hiyu wulilh vurraji’ hou gawu daliqu’l....[and] he saw the water starting to move/flow.gawu dalilh = 'it starts to move/flow'; hou gawu daliqu’l = 'its starting to move/flow'
40. Hiyu wulilh malhuk gawu dalilh.Valhuk walh vulh, hi gawu dalilh.He saw the salmon start to move. / Then the salmon too started to go.Hiyu wulilh = 'he saw'; walh = 'too'; vulh = 'emphatic'; hi = 'and then'
41. Jouwa gas gou gigudalilh.Juwa gas gou gidalilh.That’s when he set off again/ finished traveling again.gigudalilh = 'he set off' (??); gidalilh = 'he finished traveling'
42. Gou rrutswilou’.Rrutsuwulou’.That night / by night [he came back].gou = 'that one'
43. Da gou lou’.Da gou lou’.He returned.
44. Hiruwulhar, hiyu wulilh gouwili douwuqu’l.Huruwulhari’, hiyu wulilh gou’wil hou douwuqu’l.The next day, he saw a man coming.hou = 'his/her'
45. Hi yililh, “Gawi du wou lal, viwi’ hiyu wulu’.”Hi yililh, “Ga’wi da vou lal, viwi’ hiyu wulu.”He said, “I was down at the river and I saw fish.”