Diving Duck


Long ago, an individual named Diving Duck lived with another named Bear. One day, however, it occurred to Diving Duck that he should kill Bear. So, he devised a plan and told Bear they should climb to the summit of a mountain to find out how far Bear could see.

From the summit, Diving Duck asked Bear if he could see the line of mountains across the water. Bear said, “Yes, I can see that far.”

So Diving Duck asked, “Do you see the ridge beyond that?”

“Yes, but barely.” Said Bear.

“So do you see the line of mountains that lies even further?” Asked Diving Duck.

“No, I cannot see that far.” He replied.

“Okay! Climb down and build a lodge and I will fix your eyes so you can see better!” Said Diving Duck.

So they both climbed down. Upon reaching the foot of the mountain they built a sweat lodge. As soon as they finished, they heated some stones to warm the inside of the lodge.

Then, Diving Duck told Bear, “Go! Get inside and sing! But as you sing, be loud! And push your head against the covering so I will know that you are singing with all your might!”

Truly, Bear did just that.  As he was ordered, he sang loudly. And then, he pushed his head against the covering so that a bulge would be visible from the exterior. As for Diving Duck, he reached for his axe and struck it against the bulge that was Bear’s head. He struck it so fiercely that Bear was killed.

Diving Duck cut Bear’s body up and started cooking him. On that day, he ate much of Bear’s body. When he was finally certain that he had eaten too much, he headed towards the forest and positioned himself between the standing trees.

“Brothers!” He said to the trees, “Squeeze me!”

And truly they squeezed him as they brought themselves tightly around him.

Eventually, Diving Duck decided he had been squeezed enough and said, “Okay, brothers! Release me!”

But the trees would not move, and instead spoke amongst themselves saying, “He nearly devoured Bear and did not even give us anything to eat! Why should we release him?”

“If you do not release me,” warned Diving Duck, “I will call my young brother Thunderbird!”

But the trees still would not budge. So he called out saying, “Young brother Thunderbird! The trees will not release me!”

Suddenly, the Thunderbird rumbled. Upon hearing him, the trees became extremely frightened and released their captive. And at that, Diving Duck returned to finish eating Bear.

Diving Duck then went looking for some caribou. He finally spotted a herd and started shooting them two at a time. But every time he tried to kill one, Yellowlegs warned him before Diving Duck could do so. Eventually, however, he managed to thwart Yellowlegs and killed a large caribou full of fat. He almost consumed the whole caribou, but kept the stomach along with the caul fat for later.

He then spotted a flock of geese and called out to them, but the geese were afraid.

He tried to calm their fears, saying, “Don’t be afraid!” And then asked them, “Can I fly with you?”

The geese accepted and offered him some advice, saying, “Don’t ever look back! As a matter of fact, you will plummet if you look back!”

So Diving Duck took off and flew with them. But after some time, he felt like looking back and presumably did so. And what the geese had warned him would happen, happened, and he plummeted.

After his fall, Diving Duck got up and started walking again. After some time, he met two girls, both of which he later took as wives. He would then accompany them, walking to a place where others lived. There, two men had been thinking of taking those two women as wives as well. And so the men schemed, trying to find a way to rob him of his women.

Finally one said to the other, “Let’s hold a dance – we can ask Diving Duck and his wives to come!”

So they sent two youngsters to invite Diving Duck to the dance. As they arrived at his home, he was already in bed, lying right between his two wives.

“Obviously, I cannot go.” Was his response.

Not enthused, they returned to inform the others. Upon hearing the news, an elder pondered the situation.

“I know how to make him come to the dance,” said the elder, adding that he will go talk to Diving Duck and his wives.

The elder introduced Diving Duck to a couple of men with strange sounding names, telling him that these were his relatives. Diving Duck, puzzled, but liking the sound of the names, decided to accept the invitation to the dance. He left his wives behind, but not before he hung the caul fat taken from around the caribou’s stomach around his neck.

While he danced, the people ripped pieces from the fat hanging around his neck and ate it until there was nothing left. As he continued to dance, the two youngsters from earlier headed to his home to abduct his wives. There, where the women slept, the youngsters placed two tree stumps infested with ants, covering them to appear just like the women would when asleep.

After some time, Diving Duck returned home. In the darkness, he laid himself down between the ant-infested stumps, thinking they were his wives. As the ants start crawling over him and biting him, Diving Duck thought his wives were upset with him, so he asked, “Why are you pinching me? I was only out dancing with my strangely named relatives!” Nobody responded, of course, and the ants kept biting. Finally, Diving Duck decided to have a look and that’s when he discovered the ant-infested stumps and became furious!

As the morning approached, Diving Duck left his home, walked out into the lake, and stood in the water, steaming. The youngsters knew they were responsible, so they decided to paddle out to talk to him. Incensed, however, Diving Duck turned their boat over and nearly drowned them. The pair had angered him so much that he had wanted to kill them. Instead, however, he made them both drink up the water around him. Once their stomachs were filled with water, he stabbed the larger one with his spear, bursting his body. As the stomach expelled its contents, Diving Duck was once again surrounded by deep water.

The people on the shore decided not to pay him any more attention, lest they be killed as well. So they ignored him, for their own safety, as he stood in the water, dispirited. After this incident, Diving Duck was never to have any more wives.

Commentary on the above story available here.


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