Wednesday, December 29, 2010



World-Come-to-an-End Food

From a dialogue between two Karuk elders, recorded in northern California around 1900. Translated from the Karuk by Julian Lang.

The Old People were following the Ikxareeyavs, the
     Spirit People, all the time.
All the People did the same long ago; whatever the
     Ikxareeyavs did, the People did.
And the things that the Spirit People ate, that was all
     the Old People ate.
That's what they were told, "You must eat this kind of
The Spirit People ate salmon and they spooned up acorn
     soup, eating salmon along with acorn soup. And they
     ate deermeat"
And the Old People claimed that the Spirit People ate
     two meals a day,
And so that's the way the Old People did as well.
When the white people all came, the Old People said,
     "they are eating food poisonous to Indians.
It is poison food, world-come-to-end food."
The working-aged people were the first to eat the
     white man's food.
When they liked it, they really liked it. Then they told
     each other, " It's good tasting food."
They said, "He never died. I'm going to eat it, that
     white man's bread."
It was a long time before the Old Men and Old Women
     ate the white man's food.
We are the last ones that know
     how the Spirit People used to do, all that they used to eat.
Our mothers told us that.
And even we do not eat anymore,
     what they told us before,"You must eat this kind."
     And what will they who are raised after us do?

* from the book Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice

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