Distant Time Stories As Told By My Grandfather—The Owl
Told By Titus Bedes and Recorded by Fdel ©1935
The Owl was identified By Eliza Jones as the Great Horned Owl.
Owl was married to a woman. They had twelve children. Owl could not support them all. Everything he caught was just enough for himself. He could not feed his wife and children. They were all hungry. Sometimes he would catch twelve Spruce chickens in one day and eat them all himself. Sometimes he would give only the gizzard to his wife. She got sore.
He went off for some time. The wife caught a brown bear in its den. She killed it. She studied it.
“I’ll fix that old man with how much he could eat!”
She brought snowshoes and tied them for a chairback (back rest). She made thirty pounds of lard from that bear. She roasted all the tallow. She made the Owl eat it. After he got through, he drank up all the grease. The Owl got sick. He couldn’t walk any more. That’s why his eyes turned to yellow.
Attla’s story (1989:191-211), “The Woodpecker Who Starved His Wife,” deals with a similar theme of wife abuse but in much greater and more subtle detail. Whereas the Owl’s wife was independent enough to kill a bear by herself, the Woodpecker’s wife, in her complete subjection to her husband, should be taken as a horrible example of over—submissiveness, because she was unable to take from his sled the food she needed for survival, until her brothers appeared. But Dena women, alone in the camp with an unloving, mean husband, are known to have been driven to suicide by hanging.
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Cited From: Tales From the Dena–Indian Stories from the Tanana, Koyukuk, & Yukon Rivers, edited by Frederica de Laguna, Illustrated by Dale DeArmond, and Published by University of Washington Press, ©1995.