Ruby Peter: Little Wren Goes Hunting

Ruby Peter gives a telling of the story of the little wren, learned from her mother. Transcription and translation by Ruby Peter, with editing by Donna Gerdts with help from Elena Barriero, Elizabeth Ferch, Rae Anne Claxton Baker, and Lauren Schneider. (This version April 1, 2020.)

yu ’um’mush tthu t’ut’um’
Little Wren goes hunting

(1) ’een’thu sti’tum’atul’wut, nilh nu shhwuw’weli qwulsimtunaat ’i’ xitsulenuhw.
I’m sti’tum’atul’wut. My parents are Qwulsimtunaat (Cecelia Leo) and Xitsulenuhw (Basil Alphonse).

(2) kwunus ’i yu ts’its’usum’, nilh thunu ten nilh ya.a.ath ’uw’ xwi’xwi’a’mustal’hw.
When I was growing up, my mother was always telling us stories.

(3) ’i’ nilh tthu t’ut’um’ nilh sxwi’xwi’a’musta’ult.
The one about Little Wren is one she always told us.

(4) ’i ts’u ’a’mut thu s’eluhw kwey’xutsum’.
There was an old lady that was sitting, knitting, and she was crying.

(5) ’i’ xeem’, xalhstun’a’mut. “o-o-o! nan tsun ’uw’ t-sas. nan tsun ’uw’ t-sas.
She was suffering. “Oh! I’m so pitiful, so very pitiful.

(6) ’uwu te’ nu s’ulhtun.
I have no food.

(7) ’i tsun wulh hith tam’mut ’ukw’ s’ulhtun.”
I’ve been wishing for food.”

(8) ’i’ hwiine’ tthu ’imuths, t’ut’um’.
And her grandson, Little Wren, heard.

(9) hwiine’mutus thu si’lus xeem’ kwey’xutssum’, ’i’ nilh nuw’ sqwaqwul’s kws nans ’uw’ t-sas.
He was listening to his grandmother crying while knitting. She said that she was so pitiful.

(10) suw’ hwthtiwuns t’ut’um’, “’uy’ kwunus nem’ ’imush.”
So Little Wren thought, “I should go and take a walk.”

(11) yu xulhul’tslh suw’ huye.e.e’ nem’ ’imush nem’ tsam, tsam ’u thu smeent, yu kwun’eem ’u tthu shuptun.
He was feeling sorry for her and so he started walking, going up into the mountain. He was carrying a knife with him.

(12) ’i.i.i hwun’ yu ’i’mush wulh lumnuhwus tthu ni’ ’u tthu thqet skwukwith.
He was still walking along when he saw something under a tree, lying down.

(13) suw’ sht’eewun’, “stem yuhw ’a’lu tun’a?”
And he thought, “I wonder what that is?”

(14) sus ne.e.em’ ’uw’ huye’ nem’ numnusus, tus ’i’ hay ’ul’ ’uw’ thi q’uyi’uts slhelhuq’ skwukwith.
So he walked up closer to it. He approached and found it was a great big moose lying down under the trees.

(15) [suw’] pte’mutewut [tthuw’ nilh] t’ut’um’, “’i ch ’a’lu tstamut?”
And he asked Wren, “What’s the matter with you?”

(16) [suw’ thut-s t’ut’um’,] “a-a-a. ’i tsun p’e’ xelhstuhw lhunu si’lu.
[And he said,] “Ah, I’ve been feeling bad for my grandmother.

(17) kw’ekw’i’ lhunu si’lu.”
My grandmother is very hungry.”

(18) “’aa, kw’ekw’i’ lhun’ si’lu.”
“Ah, your grandmother is hungry.”

(19) “q’aythamu tsun p’e’,” thut t’ut’um’. “q’aaythamu tsun.”
“I’m going to kill you,” said Wren. “I’m going to kill you.”

(20) “’a.a.a’u’! tstamut shxut’us?”
“Oh! How come?”

(21) le’lum’utum’ tthu ’e’uhwiin’.
He was looking at tiny thing.

(22) tl’e’ wulh thut-stum, “q’aaythamu tsun.”
And he said, “I’m going to kill you.”

(23) “nem’ ’uhw wa’!
“No way!

(24) sht’eewun’ ch kwun’s q’aaytham’sh.”
So you think you can kill me?”

(25) “xwum tsun ’i’ q’aaythamu.”
“I can kill you.”

(26) “a-a-a nan ch ’uw’ shmetth’unqun.”
“You are a big liar.”

(27) suw’ pte’mutewut t’ut’um’, “tsustam’sh ch?”
And then he asked Little Wren, “How are you going to kill me?”

(28) “nem’ tsun p’e’ nuw’ilum ’u tthun’ muqsun.
“I’m going to go into your nostril.

(29) nus nem’ ’uw’ nuw’ilum ’u kwthun’ q’uq’i’.
And I will go through your innards.

(30) nus m’uw’ hwu’alum’ ’utl’qul tl’e’ wulh xwte’ ’u muqsun.”
And then I’ll go out through your other nostril.”

(31) “nem’ ’uhw wa’!
“You can’t do that!

(32) ha’ ch m’i ’ewu ’uw’ miihw ’ewu ’i’ lhup’tth’thamu tsun, nus ’uw’ lhuyxthamu.”
“If you come near me, I will slurp you up and eat you.”

(33) tl’e’ wulh thut t’ut’um’, “q’aaythamu tsun, si’em’.”
And Little Wren said again, “I am going to kill you, sir.”

(34) “hey’lh kwiya’! hey’lh kwiya!”
“Okay, go ahead and try then!”

(35) wulh lhakw’ t’ut’um’ sus ’uw’ nuw’ilum ’u tthu muqsuns, yu kwun’etus thu shuptun.
And Little Wren started flying and went into his nose, carrying his knife.

(36) ni.i.i’ huye’ lhakw’ nuw’ilum ’u tthu q’uq’i’s tthu q’uyi’uts.
He flew into the moose’s innards.

(37) yu lhilhuts’utus, yu lhilhuts’utus.
And he was slicing with his knife.

(38) nem’ ’usup’ tus ’u tthu nuts’a’ [muqsuns], ’i’ m’i tl’e’ wulh ’utl’qul tun’ni’ ’u tthu nuts’a’ muqsuns.
He finished going in one nostril and then he came out the other nostril.

(39) tl’e’ wulh hwu’alum’.
And then he went back in again.

(40) m’i ’utl’qul ’i’ ni’ hwi’ xwte’ ’u tthu (shp’oonutss) [slhulnutss] kwsus ’utl’qul.
He came out and this time he came out of the moose’s bum.

(41) ni-i-i’ yu lhilhuts’tum’ tthu q’uq’i’s tthu q’uyi’uts.
He was cutting the moose’s intenstine.

(42) hwun’ xut’e’ ’u tthey’ ’i’ ni.i.i’ wulh wutl’uts’ tthu q’uyi’uts.
When he was doing that, the moose fell down.

(43) wu’un’uxw, “he-e-e’un’n’x!” kwsus wulh wutl’uts.
He was grunting, “he-e-e’un’n’x!” and fell down.

(44) suw’ hwu le’lum’utus ni’ wulh hwu s’e’tl’q.
Wren looked at what he came out of.

(45) ha.a.ay ’ul’ thi.
It was really big.

(46) sisuw’ lhakw’ suw’ hwu shts’unetss.
He flew over and landed on it.

(47) xi’xlhe’mutus tthu ni’ q’ay.
Examining what he had killed.

(48) ni’ lhiluts’utum tthu q’uq’i’s tthu q’uyi’uts.
He killed the moose by slicing its guts.

(49) huye’ t’akw’ t’ut’um’.
Little Wren headed home.

(50) ni.i.i’ hwun’ tsakw ’i wulh yu t’it’ulum’.
He was still far and he started singing.

(51) ’i ’uw’ ’a’mut thu susule’ kwey’xutssum’.
And his grandmother was sitting, knitting

(52) tususustun’mut thu si’lus.
His granny felt sorry for herself.

(53) wulh t’ilum t’ut’um’:
And Little Wren sang:

“yuq’yuq’e.e.en’ lhu q’u, sisul’u.
“Sharpen your knife, little grandmother.

tuw’ skwi’kwthu lhunu shahwun’tsu.
What I have got is like a little island.

yuq’yuq’e.e.en’ lhu q’u, sisul’u.
Sharpen your knife, little grandmother.

tuw’ skwi’kwthu lhunu shahwun’tsu.”
What I have got is like a little island.”

(54) “ha.a.a’a, tstamut yuhw shxut’us?
“What’s the matter with you?

(55) hwi’ nutsim’ ’un’sh ’i xut’e ’u tthey’ ’i’ hay tsun ’ul’ ’uw’ t-sas ’un’ si’lu?
Why are you saying all those things? I’m just your pitiful grandmother.

(56) ’ii ch ’uw’ hiil’e’th ’ul’?”
You are just fooling me.”

(57) ’i’ ’uw’ ’uwu t’ut’um’ yu t’it’ulum’.
But Little Wren wouldn’t stop singing.

(58) tl’e’ wulh qul’et t’ilum:
And he sang again:

“yuq’yuq’e.e.en’ lhu q’u, sisul’u.
“Sharpen your knife, little grandmother.

tuw’ skwi’kwthu lhunu shahwun’tsu.
What I have got is like a little island.

yuq’yuq’e.e.en’ lhu q’u, sisul’u.
Sharpen your knife, little grandmother.

tuw’ skwi’kwthu lhunu shahwun’tsu.”
What I have got is like a little island.”

(59) “’aa!” wulh hwthtiwun thu s’eluhw,
“’aa!” the grandmother thought,

(60) “may tuw’ thu’it wa’ tun’a sqwaqwul’s’ ttthunu ’imuth.
“oh my! my grandson is maybe telling the truth.

(61) ’uy’ q’a’ kwunus hwiin’eem’.”
I’d better listen.”

(62) wulh mi’ ts’imul’ tthu ’imuths kwsus yu hunum’nusus thu si’lus.
And the grandson got very close, approaching his grandmother.

(63) tl’e’ wulh ’uw’ yu t’it’lum’ u they’ yuq’yuq’ een’.
Again, he sang to sharpen the knife.

(64) tsussutus thu si’lus ’uw’ yuq’ustus tthu shuptuns.
So his granny sharpened her knife.

(65) ’i’ neem’… suw’ pte’mut-s tthu ’imuths, “’i ch ’a’lu nutsim’ ’un’sh ’i yu xut’e ’u tthey’, ’imuth?”
And she asked her grandson, “Why are you saying that, grandson?”

(66) “sisul’u, ’uw’ thu’it, ni’ tsun q’aynuhw kwthu q’uyi’uts, hay ’ul’ thi.
“Grandmother, it’s true! I’ve killed a moose. It’s really big.

(67) nem’ tsun lumstamu.”
Come and I will show you.”

(68) [suw’] kwunut-s thu shuptuns thu s’eluhw, huye’ tseelqum lemutus tthu xut’ust-hwus tthu ’imuths, skwi’kwthu.
And the old woman got her knife, following to see the thing her grandson said was like a little island.

(69) tus ’i ha.a.ay ’ul’ thi.i.i q’uyi’uts tthu slhelhuq’.
They got there and there was the big moose that was lying down.

(70) nilh ni’ hwu s’ulhtuns, wulh lhiputus.
That would be their food, and she started to butcher it.

(71) susuw’ hwu ts-’ulhtun thu s’eluhw.
That would be the grandmother’s food.

(72) hay ’ul’ ’uw’ ’uy’ shqwaluwuns kwsus ts-’ulhtunnamut.
She was so happy that she was able to eat.

(73) hay ’ul ’uw’ qux ni’ hwu s’ulhtuns.
It was really a lot of food.

(74) ni’ mem’t ’u tthu mustimuhw [’u tthu s’ulhtun].
So she shared it with all the people.

(75) qu.u.ux mustimuhw kwus ni’ hwu s’ulhtuns.
Many people would get some food.

(76) sutst ’uw’ yath ’uw’ sht’eewun’ tun’a lhnimulh stl’ul’iqulh,
So listening to this story as children we always thought,

(77) “ ’o-o-o may! ’uw’ thu’it lhu ’ul’.”
“My! This is true.”

(78) lhnimulh lhu ’ul’ st’e ’u tthey’ … st’e ’utl’ t’ut’um’.
We wanted to be like that Little Wren.

(79) nem’ tst ’ulhtunstuhw tthu shhwuw’weli tst.
And go get food for our parents.

(80) nilh kwu’elh yathulh ’uw’ sxwi’xwi’a’musta’ult.
This is the story that they used to tell us.

(81) ni’….haalh kwu’elh ni’ tssetalum ’u kws ten tst,
Then mother would tell us,

(82) “nem’ ’e’ t’ahw ’u tthu sta’luw’
“Go down to the river

(83) m’i tseep t’ukw’stuhw kw’ stseelhtun.”
and bring us home some fish.”

(84) sutst ’uw’ huye’ ’i’ kwthunu shuyulh ne.e.m’ t’ahw
My brother and I would go down

(85) nem’ taal ’u kwthu spulhxun, yul’ew’ ’u lhu statluw’, tl’uw’ spulhxun qul’et, nem’ tl’uw’ yul’ew’.
across the fields, down past a creek, across another field, further on.

(86) sutst ’uw’ tus ’u kwthu stul’atluw’, nem’ tl’uw’ shaqwul nem’ ’u kwthu sta’luw’.
And we would get to the creeks, and then we would cross to the river.

(87) tus ’i’ ni-i-i ’uw’ qux …. nanulh ’uw’ qux stseelhtun.
When we arrived, there would be a lot of salmon coming.

(88) yu kwun’etus tthunu shuyulh tthu lhukw’tun, sus m’uw’ lhikw’utus tthu stseelhtun.
My older brother would have a hook, and he would just hook salmon.

(89) hay ’ul’ ’uw’ thi.i.i.
They would be so big.

(90) ’uwu niis se’tus. skw’ey kws se’t-s.
And he couldn’t lift them.

(91) ni’ ts’twa’ p’e’ te’tsus sil’anum ’i’ ni’ tsun ts’twa’ tth’a’kwus [sil’anum].
He was around eight years old, and I was seven.

(92) ni’ tst ’uw’ kwunut ’ul’ tthu sts’esht sutst ’uw’ ’akw’ut yelh sutst hwkw’ast nem’ t’ukw’stuhw.
So we would get a stick and hook it on, and then he’d drag it home.

(93) ’uw’ nilh ’ul’ tun’ni’ ’u kwthey’ sxwi’em’ yath tst ’uw’ he’kw’.
We’d always remember that story.

(94) nilh kwu’elh ni’… sht’es kws kw’ekw’i’s tthun’ shhwuw’weli ’un’s ’uw’ he’kw’.
If your parents are ever hungry, then you remember.

(95) ni’ tst he’kw’ ’i’ kwthunu shuyulh ’u kwthu sxwi’em’.
My brother and I would recall this story.

(96) sutst nem ’uw’ sew’q’t tthu s’ulhtun.
We would go and look for food.

(97) ni’ tssetalum ’uw’ nem’ut kw’ayukw ’u tthu kw’a’luhw.
They’d tell us to go fish for some dog salmon.

(98) m’uw’ t’ukw’stuhw m’i hun’umutnuhw tetsul ’u tthu [shhw’i’s] thunu ten.
When we got the fish home, we’d bring it to mother.

(99) ’a-a-a s-hiil’ukw thunu ten kwsutst wulh hun’umutnuhw tthu kw’a’luhw.
Mother would be so happy that we’d brought home some dog salmon.

(100) susuw’ kwunutus ’i’ ni’ kw’its’utus.
She would take it and butcher it.

(101) ’i’ ni’ hiqushus .. hiqushum, t’uyum’tum (tthu) ’unyuns, tl’elhum, pupu, susuw’ hiqutum.
And she would bake it with onions, salt, and pepper.

(102) nilh ni’ sht’ahw shkweyulqun tst.
And that would be our lunch.

(103) nilh ya.a.ath ‘’uw’ ’iyust-hwus lhey’ sxwi’em’, t’ut’um’,
And she was always happy to tell that story of Little Wren,

(104) kwsus yathulh ’uw’ xwi’xwi’a’musta’lum’.
when she was always telling us stories.

(105) nilh kwu’elh … st’e’ukw’ ’uw’ shhw’iiw’tsusta’ult kws ….thuthi’st-hwut ’u tthu shqwaluwun tst kws ’i’mush tst ’i’ u tun’a tumuhw ’uy’st-hwut lhey’ sxwi’em’.
And this is how we were taught how to be as we walked this earth to like these stories.

(106) ni’ hay. hay ch q’u.
The end. Thank you.