Moose River Hospitality and Heritage Association

Adventures of Ayacec

There was an old man Ayaceo. He married a wife and had two children with her, a boy [Ayacec] and a girl. And a little later he took another wife and then he had also his first wife and he wasn’t good to her at all. Of course his first wife didn’t like that at all. She was kind of miserable over it. So the old fellow had a few children by his second wife and it was a good thing the boy was beginning to grow up and help his mother and sister with hunting. One day the old man was away and the second wife came to say that there were partridges on the trees there. So this boy Ayacec took out his bow and arrow and began to shoot at partridges. This woman was picking up the birds as the boy was knocking them down. There was a wounded bird fluttering stuck on his arrow. When it was fluttering like that he shoved the bird between the woman’s legs and the bird fluttered like that and was scratching on her legs. He did that because he didn’t like her. That was why his father wasn’t pleased with him at all. Then the old man came up to his boy and said they would go out for eggs. So he came to his boy and said, “We will go for eggs out to an island.” So they went and after they were travelling to the island the old man with his magic was shifting the island further and further out. So the boy turned to his father at last and said, “How is it we cannot get to that island? It seems to be the same distance all the time.” So the old man said, “It was always like that when people went out to that island.” So they eventually got to the island and began to collect eggs there. There were all kinds of eggs there. When the old man thought he had enough he told his son, “We will go off now. Go back.” So when they were ready to start out he said to his son, “I saw some pretty eggs over there. Get them so the younger children can have them for playthings.” So the boy went there to where his father pointed and looked around and he couldn’t see any eggs. He shouted back, “Where are our eggs?”  And the old man said, “Further on still, still on further.” So the boy of course went further on and was looking around. He looked up to shout to his father and saw the old man was away out already paddling off. So he sung out, “Father, you are leaving me.” So the old man sung back to his son, “Why did you scratch your tc’tuc (aunt and stepmother)?” So the boy took up a stone and threw it after his father and the ripple of the water nearly capsized the old man. But anyway the old man went off. And the boy sat down and began to cry. While he was crying there he heard somebody talk to him. And looking up he saw a big seagull (micetci’yaku).  So the boy told the gull that his father left him and he didn’t know how he could get back. So the seagull pitied the boy and told him he would gladly help him if he could. So he said to the boy, “You get on my back and if I can fly around this island three times with you on my back I will be able to save you.” But the gull couldn’t do it. He had to drop the boy before he could make the third trip around the island. So the big gull told him, “I cannot take you across to the mainland.” So she told him to pass the night there to lie on one of her wings while she covered him up with the other. So in the morning the gull left him and the boy started wandering about the island crying. He was crying when he saw an animal along the water’s edge. It was a big fish (mice ka’ke ak weo [horned serpent]). The “fish” asked the boy, “What is wrong with you?” He told this “fish” that his father had left him and he didn’t know how to get across to the mainland. So this “fish” pitied the boy and told him he would try to help him. He told the boy to go to one of the high places on the island and see if there were any clouds showing along the horizon. The boy went and said that he saw no clouds at all. So the “fish” told him to get three stones and they were to be of three different sizes. So he told the boy to get on his back and that he would try to save him. He told the boy, “If you want me to go quick you will tap my horns with the little stone; if you want me to go quicker, you will tap my horns with the medium sized one; if you want me to go quicker still, tap my horns with the largest one.” Off they went. The boy began to tap the horns with the small stone and it was going pretty quickly. But he wished to go more quickly so he tapped with the second stone. At last he could see black clouds coming up and so he knew a storm was coming. He got the biggest stone and was tapping the horns with it and the animal was travelling most quickly. At last he could hear the thunder and lightening. The animal heard the thunder too and he asked the boy, “What was that?” The boy said, “It is just the vibration of your own body.” So he was still tapping the horns with the biggest stone and the animal was going very quickly but still the storm was just coming upon them. The full force of the storm was upon them just when he could see bottom. So the boy jumped off the back of the animal and waded into the shore and the animal went away back into the deep water. Now when he got ashore the first thing he saw was some fox tracks and thinking to run into the trees for shelter from the storm he saw a little wigwam (mi’cuwap) and he wasn’t quite sure whether it was friend or foe that was there. Anyway he made up his mind to go to it and he tapped on the door and out came Fox Woman (Macecickweo). She pitied him right away and she seemed to be an ally (powagan) of the boy’s mother. So the Fox Woman took him in and brought him a meal. He saw a little kettle hanging on the fire and thought, “If that is going to be my meal it will not be half a snack for me.” When the meal was ready the Fox Woman took it out and set it before him. He ate and ate and he was quite satisfied. Now the Fox Woman told him that the way was very dangerous, the way he had to go back to his mother. She advised him how to act at each of these dangerous places. The first ones that he came to would be two old men called “ma mi iu ka te’wuts”.  When anyone comes to them they call the stranger into the micuap and begin to tell him an atayokan and thus put their listener to sleep. When he dozed off to sleep they would trap him with their big legs and kill him. So she told the boy how to act and that she would accompany him that far. The next ones he would come to would be the two blind old women with pointed elbows, “ka tcin’ tuc ku netc.” She told  him exactly how to act when they tried to cut the victim to death when he went into their tent. The third ones he would come to were the “pa kus kan” (dry bones hung across the road and they rattled when anybody passed by). She told him how to act then, too. The Big Legs, the Pointed Elbows and the Dry Bones were powagans of the old man. Now they set off and the Fox Woman went with the boy until they came to the first camp, the Big Legs. The Fox Woman remained outside disguised like a pup, and the boy went into the tent. The fellows with the big legs began to tell him stories and finally the boy made out he was falling asleep. Then he saw the fellows lifting their big legs to trap him and just at this moment the Fox Woman rushed in and grabbed the fellow’s leg and the boy grabbed a billet pretending to beat off the “pup” but actually beat the fellows and killed the Big Legs. So the Fox Woman didn’t go with him any further and returned from there but she gave him a weasel skin to trick the Dry Bones. So the boy went on his journey again, alone now. Eventually he came to the place where the Pointed Elbows were. Of course, first of all he went right up onto the tent and looked down from above. He saw some meat in a kettle on the fire. He got a stick and helped himself to the meat and these old women heard him and they knew it was Aiyacec. They went one to each side of the door to get ready for him when he should come in. After he took the meat he went down from the tent and took a log that was there, shoved it into the doorway and made a racket just as if he were going in. They started to work and thought they were hurting Aiyacec but actually they killed each other. So he was through with both of these old women. Now there was one more place to get through so he went on his way again and came to the last obstacle. There was a string of dry bones hung right across the road. Before coming to the bones the boy began to dig and he was going to dig himself right under the bones. Yet the dogs of the Dry Bones knew him and started to bark as he as digging saying, “Ayacec n’mikina” (in Fort George language “Ayacec n’mitc i ta’ nan”).  So he made a little hole to the surface of the ground where he was and poked the weasel skin out so the people came to the conclusion the dogs were barking at a weasel and began to abuse the dogs for giving a false alarm. So he dug himself right under these bones and came out away past the bones and of course they didn’t realize at all. He got safely through the last obstacle.  Now at home the old mother was always crying, crying for her son. She would fancy she would hear her boy say, “Mother, I am back now” and she would look up and see only a little bird. One time the old man told her, “It is no use for you to be crying for your son, you will never see him again.” But one day as usual she was crying for her son and heard a voice saying, “Mother I am home now.” She looked up and saw her boy standing there. She ran into the tent and collected some muskrat skins and was spreading them on the ground for her boy to tramp upon. When the old man saw his son he did the same, beaver skins and bear skins he spread for his son to walk upon. And the boy kicked away the skins his father laid and walked on the skins his mother laid down for him. That night he was singing a conjuring song and in this song he said, “The land is going to burn and the water is going to boil.” When the old man heard his son singing he began to sing and in his song he sang, “The land is not going to burn and the water is not going to boil.” In the morning the boy told his mother what he was going to do. She did not like the idea but she said it would be all right. So he drew a mark on the ground and told his mother and sister to stay on that side of the mark and they would be safe there. Then he shot an arrow on the land and it began to burn and he shot an arrow in the water and the water began to boil. So when Old Ayaceo saw the land burning he was scared and sang out to his son, “What will I do with your brothers and sisters?” So the boy told his father,  “Shove them into your grease rogans.” So they all perished there.  Only Aiyacec and his mother and sister were left alive. So the old woman didn’t like it at all after everything was destroyed, so he told his mother, “It will be all right. I will make you into a bird.” He did that and called her “robin” (pi pi ceo). She flew up to a branch and began to call like a robin. Then he turned his sister into a blackbird (cah cah ke iu) and when he was through with her she flew to a branch and began to call like a bird. Then he said he would fix himself into a peacock (te te seu). He said he wouldn’t show in this part of the country, but the robin and blackbird are around here.  [END] Sam Iserhoff  RH1938      Ayacec COMMENT: story told at Rupert’s House, but indicates it is from Fort George SUMMARY:  Father (Ayaceo) takes son Ayacec to gather eggs and deserts him but son is befriended by Fox Woman, outwits three obstacles, returns home, and kills his father, second wife, and children by second wife (a) Son abandoned on island is befriended by seagull who says if she can carry him three times around island he will take him home – but fails.   (b) Thunderbird befriends him and tells him to get three stones and to tap on T’s horns to make him go quickly. Boy reaches mainland shore. (c) Boy finds Fox Woman who is friendly, gives him a small meal which is replenished so he has his fill. Then she warns him of three obstacles he will encounter on his way home: “Big Legs,” “Pointed Elbows,” and “Dry Bones.”  (d) FW goes with him to Big Legs and stays outside disguised as a dog, then enters the tent to distract Big Legs, while Ayacec kills them. He gets by Pointed Elbows and Dry Bones by cunning and trickery.  (e) When he returns home his mother laid out muskrat skins for him to walk on and father laid out beaver and bear skins [ie. three kinds of skins]. Boy walks only on muskrat skins. (f) Next he sings that “land will burn and water will boil”. Father counter sings, “Land will not burn, water will not boil.” Boy draws mark on ground and tells mother and sister to stay behind it. Tells father to save his children [by his second marriage] by wrapping in grease [fat], and they burn up. (g) After destruction, turns mother into robin, sister into a crow, and self into a peacock [3 birds] – but only robin and crow are around here.   RFH Comments 1) We have two (Ayacic and “Son-in-law” [Skinner has both]) which fit well into detailed themes of Fisher used in her category, “Stories of Adventure.” 2) Then we have two North, where hero overcomes respectively “spirit” North Wind and explains practice of putting grease in fire when bad storm comes; and Omukuceo, who overcomes Niminis and explains eat-all feast. [Perhaps Tcua goes with them as explanatory Shaking-Tent?] but latter is not in contest 3) Man Buried Alive –  Mistakalac –  doesn’t fit either grouping 4) The basic difference between Ayacic and “Son-in-law” stories is: Although both are taken to island to hunt eggs, Ayacic is helped to mainland by water monster (horned serpent); meets mother’s “ally” who gives him means to overcome obstacles (pointed elbows, et al) sent by father; arrives home & destroys father by burning lard & boiling water; saves mother & turns her and self to birds.  Son-in-law gets home before father-in-law; has direct contests with fa-in-law & jump chasm, burned leggings, etc. & overcomes him completely.  RFH Comments: If the East Cree were older and, as Fischer suggests, Wisekedjak is a compilation – then Ayacec is non-Wisekedjak and is older, with all the things of Fischer’s Wisekedjak.   Skinner’s   “The Son of A…….”       Moose and Rupert House Old man A……… had 2 wives. Son of one wife had “intimate relations” with co-wife. Father angry. Abandons son on island where gulls eggs. Goes off in canoe. Son brought across water by Walrus (water monster with horns). Gets to shallow water. Son OK but Walrus killed by lightening (another version says man & son rescued by gull). Son told by old woman (maybe personalization of mother’s wish for son’s safety) son would have obstacles from father’s conjuring before reaching home. Given help: meets 2 women with sharp elbows- son defeats them, meets bone, digs hole to go under & people fooled by ermine – dogs persist, but son reaches home. Father frightened – son tells father is sent himself by getting in father’s basket of grease. Son shoots arrows, sets forest on fire, makes rivers fire. Keeps mother safe but burns father up. Son and mother turn into birds, she a robin, he a ____. SkinnerIserhoff 1). A has “intimate” relations with frs.A deliberately crushes her legs [vulva]       2nd wife. Father angry.Ditto: Father angry. 2)  Go to island for eggs. Father abandons.Ditto with more details       No mention of gullGull tries to save       Walrus saves but killed by lightning“Fish” with horns saves and get to deep water 3)  Meets old woman (personification ofMeets Fox Woman, mother’s ally       mother’s __________)(powagan); gives A endless meal, warns of  dangers & what to do omits men with big legs; men with big legs; pointed elbowsDitto; dry bones digs hole fools peopleDitto 5) home safe;Ditto but more details     skins to walk on 6) Sings at nightDitto     ……………………….. 7) Father told to get in basket of greaseDitto 8) Mother & son turned into birdsMother & son turned into birds Alternative Spellings:   RFHAyacec EllisAyâs SkinnerAioswé