Small Number and the Old Totem Pole – Hul'q'umi'num'

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

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.


kw'i'kw'ushnuts 'i' tu s'eluhw thi sxt'ekw'
(Hul'q'umi'num' Translation)

Hul'q'umi'num' Translation by Ruby Peter (Sti'tum'at), Narration by Thomas Jones (Siwut)

Story Transcript: English and Hul'q'umi'num'

***Also see the Hul’q’umi’num’ Sxwi’em’ (stories) website. ***

kw’i’kw’ushnuts ’i’ tu s’eluhw thi sxt’ekw’

Small Number and the Old Totem Pole

kw’i’kw’ushnuts tunu skwish.
My name is Small Number.

’i’ yath tsun ’uw’ ni’ ’u tu tiya’hween.
And I am a young boy who gets into a lot of mischief.

tu sht’un’aalhtuns ’i’ nilh tu sxt’ekw’ qwiil’qwul’ ’u tu ni’ ’u tu sqwul’qwul’.
For my people, making totems poles is our way of telling and remembering stories.

tun’a sqwul’qwul’ ’i’ nilh kwu’elh tun’ni’ ’u kwthey’ s’eluhw sxt’ekw’.
This is the story of the old totem pole.

’i’ nilh tu syuw’en’tstulh nilh ni’ thuyt tun’a sxt’ekw’, stutes ’u tu hulelum’s.
Built by my ancestors on a beach close to my village.

’i’ nan ’uw’ wulh hith kwus tun’ni’ ’u kwthu syuw’en’tst.
that has been shared for many generations now.

nuts’a’ skweyul ’i’ wulh sew’q’ tu yuxwule’ ’u kw’ s’ulhtuns.
One day the eagle was looking for food.

hwun’ xut’u ’i’ wulh lumnuhwus tu hay ’ul’ thi stseelhtun ’uw’ tuw’ yu tsitsulh ni’ ’u tu qa’.
He spotted a huge salmon, just below the surface of the water.

sus nem’ ’uw’ lhakw’ tuw’nilh yuxwule’ ’i’ nilh tu sxun’us ni’ shkwunut-s tu stseelhtun.
He plummeted to the river and caught the salmon with his mighty talons.

’i’ nilh kwus nan ’uw’ thi tu stseelhtun, ha’ se’tus ’i’ ’uw’ ’uhwiin’ ’ul’ kwus m’i sen’hwus.
But, the salmon was so big that even eagle’s strong wings could only lift the salmon just a bit above the surface of the water.

wulh teem tuw’nilh yuxwule’, “ts’ewuth! ts’ewuth! ’i tsun shtsul’ew’!”
The eagle called out, “Help me! Help me! I’m struggling, being flipped!”

wulh ts’elhum’utum ’utl’ spaal’ tu yuxwule’ kwus tuteem’, ts’e’ts’uw’te’num’.
The raven heard eagle’s cry for help.

sus nem’ ’uw’ lhakw’ nem’ spaal’ sus ’uw’ lhkwatus tu stseelhtun ts’ewulhtun se’tus.
So he flew down and pierced his beak into the salmon’s body.

susuw’ hwu kwun’atul’ tu yuxwule’ ’i’ spaal’ t’ut’a’thut kwus suse’tus tu thi-i-i stseelhtun.
The eagle and the raven were pulling the salmon together.

’i’ nan ’uw’ thi tu stseelhtun ’i’ ni’ ’uw’ ’uhwiin’ ’ul’ kwus nem’ sen’hwus nem’ se’tus ’u tu tsuw’mun.
But the salmon was so big that they only moved the salmon just a little bit closer to the shore.

tl’e’ wulh qul’et tu yuxwule’, “ts’ewuth! ts’ewuth! ’i tst shtsul’ew’.”
Again the eagle shouted, “Help me! Help me! We are being flipped!”

wulh ts’elhum’ tu spe’uth ’u tu ni’ tuteem’.
The bear heard the eagle’s calling.

xwchenum tuw’nilh spe’uth nem’ ts’ewutus tu yuxwule’.
The bear ran out of forest and grabbed the eagle.

m’i hwukw’ustum’ ’utl’ spe’uth tu yuxwule’, ts’ets’uw’utus.
The bear was pulling the eagle, helping him.

yuxwule’ ’i’ spaal’ kwun’et tu stseelhtun kwus ts’i’ts’uw’atul’.
The eagle and the raven were helping each other hold the salmon.

’i’ nilh kwus nan ’uw’ thi tu stseelhtun kwus m’i hwu stutes ’u tu tsuw’mun.
But the salmon was so big that they could only move the salmon just a little bit closer to the shore.

hwi’ nilh tu spe’uth teem, “ts’e-e-ewuth! ts’e-e-ewuth! ’i ch shtsul’ew’!”
Then the bear shouted, “Help me! Help me! We are being flipped!”

wulh ts’elhum’ tu stqeeye’ kwus tuteem’ tu spe’uth.
The wolf heard the bear’s call.

m’i xwchenum wuplhuqw ’u tu hwthuthiqut.
He came running out of the forest.

lhxilush sis ’uw’ nilh tu yuw’a’nus sxun’us ni’ shkwunut-s tu spe’uth.
He stood up and grabbed the bear with his front legs.

m’i yu hwukw’ustus tu spe’uth tu stqeeye’, ’i’ hay tu spe’eth nilh tu yuxwule’ ’i’ m’i yu hwukw’ustus.
The wolf was pulling the bear, and the bear was pulling the eagle.

’i’ hay tu yuxwule’ ’i’ tu spaal’ nilh tu stseelhtun ni’ m’i hwukw’ustus.
The eagle and the raven were pulling the salmon.

’i’ nilh kwus nan ’uw’ thi tu stseelhtun kwus m’i hwu stutes ’u tu tsuw’mun.
But the salmon was so big that they could only move the salmon just a little bit closer to the shore.

hwi’ nilh tu stqeeye’ ni’ teem’, “ts’ewuth! ts’ewuth! ’i tst shtsheluw!”
Then the wolf hollered, “Help me! Help me! We are being flipped!”

wulh ts’elhum’ tu sqel’uw’ ts’elhum’utus tu stqeeye’, sus m’uw’ hwiwul m’i ts’uwlhtun.
The beaver heard wolf and he came forward to help.

sus ’uw’ kwoon’s ’u tu ni’ tuteem’.
And he took hold of the one calling out.

yu hwukw’ustus tu squl’ew’ tu stqeeye’, ’i’ hay tu stqeeye’ nilh tu spe’uth ni’ yu shkwun’el’sth.
The beaver was pulling the wolf, and the wolf was pulling the bear.

’i’ tu spe’uth nilh tu yuxwule’ ni’ shkwun’el’sth, ’i’ hay tu yuxwule’ ’i’ tu spaal’ nilh tu stseelhtun m’i hwukw’ustus.
And the bear was pulling the eagle, and the eagle and the raven were pulling the salmon.

’i’ nilh kwus nan ’uw’ thi tu stseelhtun kwus m’i hwu stutes ’u tu tsuw’mun.
But the salmon was so big that they could only move the salmon just a little bit closer to the shore.

tl’e’ wulh teem hwi’ nilh tu squl’ew’ teem, “ts’ewutal’hw! ts’ewutal’hw!”
And then next it was the beaver who cried, “Help us! Help us!”

’i’ nilh tu shtl’up’i’nuts-s hwi’ ni’ lhalhuqw’utus tu qa’.
And he slapped the water with his tail.

wulh ts’elhum’ tu wuxus sus m’uw’ hwiwul, sus m’uw’ ’ewu ’u tun’ni’ shni’s tu tuteem’.
The frog heard and came forward to the where the shouting came from.

suw’ kwoon’s ’u tu squl’ew’ tu wuxus.
And the frog took hold of the beaver.

nilh tu wuxus ’i’ kwun’el’s hwukw’ust tu squl’ew’.
The frog was pulling the beaver.

nilh tu squl’ew’ ni’ hwukw’ust tu stqeeye’,
The beaver was pulling the wolf.

hay tu stqeeye’ nilh tu spe’uth ni’ hwukw’ustus tu spe’uth ni’ hwukw’ust tu yuxwule’,
As for the wolf, the bear was who he was pulling, the bear who was pulling the eagle.

’i nilh tu yuxwule’ ’i’ tu spaal’ nilh ni’ hwukw’ust tu stseelhtun.
And the eagle and the raven were pulling the salmon.

hwun’ xut’u ’i’ ni’ wulh m’i se’tus tu stseelhtun m’i ’ewust-hwus ’u tu tsuw’mun.
Finally, they heaved the salmon on to the shore.
nilh ni’ shni’s ’i’ ni’ hay.
And that is where the story ends.
ptem’:   |  Question:

—  nutsim’ ’a’lu ’u shus tsts’ets’uw’te’num’ tu yuxwule’, ’i’ spaal’, ’i’ tu spe’uth, ’i’ tu stqeeye’ ’i’ tu squl’ew’?
Why did the eagle, the raven, the bear, the wolf, and the beaver need help?

—  nutsim’ ’a’lu ’u shus tsts’ets’uw’te’num’ ’u tu wuxus kws m’is hwkw’astum tu stseelhtun ’ewustum ’u tu tsuw’mun?
Whey did they need help from the 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); 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; Squamish Version: Translated and narrated by Setálten, Norman Guerrero Jr., of the Squamish Nation; Sliammon Version: Translated by Ochele (Betty Wilson) and Gail Blaney, Sliammon Nation; Eva and Herman Francis, Klahoose First Nation; Marianne Huijsmans, UBC; and Su Urbanczyk, UVic. Narrated by Ochele (Betty Wilson) with Gabrielle Adams and Jade Touchie, Sliammon Nation. Sound: David Brigden, Simon Fraser University (English and Squamish); Donna Gerdts, Simon Fraser University (Hul’q’umi’num’); Marianne Huijsmans, UBC (Sliammon) 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; **** This story is an adaptation of the Russian fairy tale "The Giant Turnip" inspired by west coast First Nation's traditions and art.