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Native American Mermaid
Stories: The Mermaid - A Sikanni Tale
Two hunters who were following an
old trail along the shore of a lake came upon three women with
very long hair. They seemed different from any women they had
One of them awoke and alarmed her
companions whereupon all three rushed away to dive into the
water. Two escaped, but the third was captured by one of the
men, who tied her by the hair to a tree until she promised to
marry him. Then he led her to his tent. The mermaid was very
lonely during that first winter. At night, when the ice of the
lake congealed and cracked, she would say, That is my
sisters dog chasing something. I wish I could have remained
down there in the water.
She complained of the cold so that
her husband had to build a large fire for her every day. On
the first day, when he used dry logs, she complained that the
wood was poor and gave no heat. Then when he steeped the logs
in water and re-laid them on the fire, creating a dense cloud
of smoke and steam, she protested that it was too hot.
During the second winter the hunter
was unable to kill much game, so that long before spring they
were very short of food. His wife then said to him, Dig
me a hole through the ice of the lake.
No, he answered. You
would go down into the water and never return. I do not want
to lose you.
Dont be afraid. I will
come back to you.
He dug a hole and she went down into
the water, leaving her little son with the father. After a time
a hand came up, deposited a large pack of dried meat on the
surface of the ice, and disappeared again. More packs followed.
Last of all his wife emerged and said, See, all those
packs were given me by my sisters. After this the mermaid
lived very happily with her husband for many years and bore
him several children. Every year, however, the longing for her
old home grew more intense. At last she said to him, weeping,
Let me now return to the water.
Very reluctantly he consented and
dug a hole through the ice for her. She dived into the water
but returned immediately because her children were unable to
follow her. One after another she rubbed their mouths with water
and told them to dive in after her. Then they all went down
into the water and never returned.
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