Small Number and the Old Totem Pole

My name is Small Number. This is a story that I’ve heard from my grandmother and that she heard from her grandmother. It is about an old totem pole built by my ancestors on a beach close to our village.


Written by Veselin Jungic and Mark MacLean
Illustrated by Bethani L'Heureux

Story Transcript: English

Small Number and the Old Totem Pole

 

My name is Small Number. This is a story that I’ve heard from my grandmother and that she heard from her grandmother. It is about an old totem pole built by my ancestors on a beach close to our village.

One day, the eagle was looking for food. He spotted a huge salmon just below the surface of the water, he plummeted to the river and caught the salmon with his mighty talons. But, the salmon was so big that even eagle’s strong wings could only lift the fish just a bit above the surface of the water.

"Help! Help!" - screeched the eagle.

The raven heard eagle's cry, so he flew down and pierced his beak into the salmon’s body.

The eagle and the raven were pulling the salmon together, but the fish was so big that they only moved the salmon just a little bit closer to the shore.

"Help! Help!" - screeched the eagle again.

The bear heard the eagle's piercing shrill, ran out of forest, stood up and grabbed the eagle with his huge paws.

The bear was pulling the eagle, and the eagle and the raven were pulling the salmon, but the fish was so big that they could only move the salmon just a little bit closer to the shore.

"Help! Help!" - roared the bear.

The wolf heard the bear's call, ran out of forest, stood up and grabbed the bear with his long front legs.

The wolf was pulling the bear, the bear was pulling the eagle, the eagle and the raven were pulling the salmon, but the fish was so big that they could only move the salmon just a little bit closer to the shore.

"Help! Help!" - howled the wolf.

The beaver heard wolf's whimpering, ran out of the river, and grabbed the wolf with her hands.

The beaver was pulling the wolf, the wolf was pulling the bear, the bear was pulling the eagle, the eagle and the raven were pulling the salmon, but the fish was so big that they could only move the salmon just a little bit closer to the shore.

"Help! Help!" - the beaver cried as she slapped the water with her tail.

The frog heard beaver's call, ran out of the river, and grabbed the beaver with his legs.

The frog was pulling the beaver, the beaver was pulling the wolf, the wolf was pulling the bear, the bear was pulling the eagle, the eagle and the raven were pulling the salmon, and together they heaved the salmon on to the shore.

Question: Why did the eagle, the raven, the bear, the wolf, and the beaver need help from a little frog to pull the salmon on to the shore?

 

Credits and Acknowledgements

Written by Veselin Jungic, SFU, and Mark MacLean, UBC;

Illustrator: Bethani L'Heureux from the 'Namgis First Nation;

Voice: Bethani L'Heureux from the 'Namgis First Nation (English); Thomas Jones (Siwut)

Hul’q’umi’num’ Version: Translated by Ruby Peter (Sti'tum'at); Narration by Thomas Jones (Siwut); Language Editing by Donna Gerdts, Simon Fraser University;

Sound: David Brigden, Simon Fraser University (English); Donna Gerdts, Simon Fraser University (Hul’q’umi’num’)

Music: Cameron Tatham, Vancouver, BC, and Barry Cardinal from the Bigstone Cree Nation;

Producer: Veselin Jungic, Simon Fraser University;

Director: Andy Gavel, Ryerson University;

Special Thanks To:

Tom Archibald, Simon Fraser University;

Pam Borghardt, Simon Fraser University;

Ozren Jungic, University of Oxford;

Department of Mathematics, Simon Fraser University;

Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia;

The IRMACS Centre, Simon Fraser University;

Faculty of Science, Simon Fraser University;

Department of Linguistics, Simon Fraser University;

Office for Aboriginal Peoples, Simon Fraser University;

Pacific Institute For Mathematical Sciences;

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This story is an adaptation of the Russian fairy tale "The Giant Turnip" inspired by west coast First Nation's traditions and art.