’Láanaas Sdang Gyaahlanggee

The story of ’Laanaas Sdang’s [Adam Bell's] succession to the Chiefship of Iits’aaw

Recorded with Adam Bell by Marianne Boelscher Ignace and Lawrence Bell in July 1983. Translated and transcribed by Lawrence Bell and Marianne Boelscher Ignace.
’Láanaas Sdang’s succession potlatch took place when he was between 12 and 14, so around 1915 – about 100 years ago! It took place during the time when the Canadian government had made potlatching illegal through the Anti-Potlatch Act.

Áa uu ’Láanaas  Sdang uu wéed kihlgulgaa.

This is ’Laanaas Sdang speaking.

Díi ḵáa uu Xilaa uu íijan-gwaa!

My Uncle was Xilaa!

G̱adg̱aywaas ingguu , t’úujee ’l  da’áasii   ingguu ’l nawáayaanii.

Above G̱adG̱aywaas, he used to own a fortress, and this is where he used to live, they say.

’Wáagyaan ingguu ’l nawáasiidluu ’laa x̱idguu ’l tuuwíi nawáayaan-gwaa!

And while he lived on top, they say his clansmates lived below.

’Wáagyaan ahl áaniis G̱aa ’l ḵahlsiidluu  ’laa ḵ’uhl ’l sángg náagaangaan.

and whenever he went down below to this one, he used to stay with him for a while [referring to Xilaa’s younger brother, Sgaamyang].

’Wáadluu ’laa dángahl gin ga hála ii’wan  uu ’l ísdagaangaanii.

And with him, he used to host great feasts they say.

’Laa dángahl gyaa …. x̱aadaa ii’wandaa gyaahlaal naa’as ’l hldanúudaasii.

With him, he feasted the big house-chiefs.

Gasán tadeihlsdluu, áaniis han asán ’laa ḵ’uhl ḵahlagáangaan.

After however many seasons, this one [the younger brother] also went up to stay by him.

’Wáagyaan ’l dúunsii uu, Sgaamyang hin uu ’l kyaagáan-gwaa.

And his younger brother was called Sgaamyang.

Díi ḵáa uu  ’l dúunsii.

He was my maternal uncle’s younger brother.

’L dúun uu,  Xilaa uu, ’laa ahl asán ’l k’ẃaay (should be dúun)  ’laa ḵ’uhl sángg naas uu,’laa dángahl gin ga hálagaangaan, ’l tawíi isis, ’l tawíi isii uu ’laa ahl gin ga hálagaangaan.

And Xilaa, the older brother hosted a doing with his younger brother at his house, because they were kinfolk (i.e. supporting one another).

’Lngee x̱aadee ’laa ’l hldaanúudawaasii.

They feasted the townspeople all the time.

’Wáagyaan tlíisdluwaan gu tl’ ts’anaawnángtl’aasiidluu, tlagee ahl angaa, ’l gyaadáhwugáangaanii.

And when households of people moved in by and by, he would sell parcels of land to them.

’Wáagyaan gid sG̱wáan x̱íinangaagaan uu.

And he had one living son.

Xilaa gid sg̱wáan x̱íinangaagaan uu,  Gidaa Kujáaw hin uu ’l kya’áagaan.

Xilaa had one son who was alive, his name was Gidaa Kujaaw.

’Wáagyaan ’l ’láanaa ’léeygaawaas gyaanaan, ’l gid na ts’agee ga ’l gwáawaasiidluu an angaa ’l … gyaahlal hin uu ’l kya’áadaang.

And while he was village chief, he didn’t want his son to be without a household, so he built and potlatched a house for him.

Náa gyaa angaa ’l tlaawhldáayaanii, x̱aad náa ii’waan.

He had a house built for him, a big longhouse. (this implies he hired people to build a house)

’Wáagyaan tlíisdluu tlagee ’l da’áasiidluu, dáa’aay ’láangaa x̱íilaayaanii.

And what parcel of land he had, the housepit took up all of the space (implying that this was the house of a high ranking person, the bigger the dáa’aay, the more prestige the person has).

’Wáagyaan ’laa hl ḵínggan-gwaa.

And I saw him (Gidaa Kujaaw).

North Island gu tlaan ’l géihlsdluu, díi aw an ’l hlgG̱ayaasiidluu, awang ahl hl ḵaat’iijan.

At North Island, when he stopped living, when they called my mother over there, I went across there with my mother.

’Wáadluu nang íihlangaa ḵedjgad ’láa uu iijan.

He was a handsome man.

’Wáagyaan asgee gu ’l k’ut’algan.

And that’s where this one had died.

’Wáagyaan díi aw ḵáa’ang ajii sda, Ḵ’iis Xaadaa tlagaa gu sda hahlgwii ga isidsíidluu, díi aw sg̱únan ḵáa’ang x̱íinangaawaasii.

And my mother, from this uncle of hers, as the Alaskan Haida were making their way back to the island, my mother was the only one left alive after her uncle.

Gam an ’l jáadaasii, gam ’l jaasahl nagee gam ’laa tl’ guulaa’angsii,

Because she was a woman and because it wasn’t fitting for a woman to  lead a household,

’Wáagyaan G̱ídeed gu guudaa tl’ íijaa’angaanii.

so they came together about it (to discuss it).

’Wáagyaan G̱ídeed gu gud ahl tl’ íijaa’angaanii.

And they had a meeting about it.

’Lngee x̱aadee, gyáahlahl náas ’wáadluwaan is gyaanaan,

All the village people, all the house chiefs came together,

Nang chiefgaasiis, ’wáagyaan gwaaygaang an nang leadergaagaan uu Stl’ang ’lngaagaan-gwaa.

And the one who  leader of all the clans was a Stl’ang ’laanaas. [it seems like they got all the Raven clans got together].

Ahl áaniis uu, “áajii jíingeilgaa, áa nang jáadaa xajuu ḵáa k’ut’algansdluu, jíinggeilgaa!”

And this one [said], “it’s getting to be a long time since this little woman’s uncle passed away.”

’Laa hl ísdaa’u. Wéed uu hl G̱eihlgiidaa’u! Wéed uu hl G̱eihlgiidaa.u

“Take her [meaning  ’accept her’]. Finish it up now. Finish it up now.

’Laa ga ḵ’ángsdluu G̱aa xadaláa ’l daaG̱eihlsanggwaa.

If she’s lucky, she’ll come to have children.

’Wáagyaan áasgee uu ’láangaa isdlaa’asaang.

And these that are hers [her children] will come forward.”

’Wáagyaan nang sáawaan kyée uu, nang sáawaan kyée uu Skiláawee hin uu ’l kya’áagaan.

And the one who said that, his name was Skilaawee, they say.

’L Stl’ang ’lngaagaan.

He was a Stl’ang ’laanaas.

’Wáagyaan díi ḵáa ahl uu gud ’l tuuwíi, an ’l tuuwáadawugangaan.

He was my uncle’s kin, they made each other to be kin. [they treated one another as kinfolk].

’Wáagyaan áa uu tlagw áajii ḵáatl’ajaawaanii-gwaa,

And this is how it came to be,

’Wáagyaan díi aw huu chiefgaagee an tl’ isdaayaanii-gwaa.

And this is how my mother was given the chiefship.

’Wáagyaan díi uu wéed G̱udgwaa an díi G̱idatl’agee gu wéed uu díi uu íijan.

So now as the last one I have arrived at this position.

Tlíisdluwaan díi náanlang díi dángahl gin ga hálagandluu,

Finally, my naaniis had a doing with [for] me.

Salaagudgáng uu, sakíidee, naxíingee díi G̱adúu ’l ísdiiyaa an uu ’l ḵáatl’aagan.

Salaagudgáng stepped forward putting the headdress and the blanket around me.

’Wáagyaan Yahguu janáas ’wáadluwaan uu díi aw gyaa née aa uu st’ahwugaangan.

And all of the Yahguu janáas  filled up my mother’s house.

’Wáadluu Ḵuygée ii’wans, díi aw, díi náan jahlíi aa, Ḵuygée ii’wans uu kyáagaanggan-gwaa,

And Ḵuygée ii’wans, my mother, my most special naanii, Ḵuygée ii’wans called out,

Anáa ’l suus gyaan uu hlangáan uu ’l suugiinii,

She’s inside but she’s speaking softly [They are announcing him from a different room, speaking softly],

“Xilaa G̱áwtlaasii ḵáatl’aagaaaaaaang,”  hin uu ’l suugiinii-gwaa.

“Here comes the new Xilaa,” that’s what they kept saying [increasing their volume].

Haw asán née aa tl’ st’ahwugaasii, haw asán tl’ gyúujuus G̱adáang uu haw asán tl’ haa’wáanan

And again, to the full house of people listening, after a short pause again, very close-by, they chanted,

“Xilaa G̱áwtlaasii ḵáatl’aagáaaaaaaaaang,” hin tl’ suu G̱adáangaan uu.

“here comes the new Xilaa” they said after a slight pause.

Díi náan uu díi ḵanḵáatl’aas gyaan-gan.

As my naanii guided me forward from one room into the main another. [in front of her],

’Wáadluu díi an tl’ k’ajeilgan-gwa.

And then they started to sing for me.

Sakíidee díi ḵaj iiy tl’ ísdagan-gwa.

They put the headdress on me.

Díi ’láanaa ’léeygaasii, G̱ad G̱aywáas ’lngee uu díi ’láanaa ’léeygaasii aa, Íits’aaw han asán kya’áang.

That’s why I am chief at G̱ad G̱aywaas, at what they call Iits’aaw.

Ahljíi gu díi tl’ G̱idatl’adasiidluu, díi an sda tl’ kya’áagandaas,

When they got me to arrive, when they had announced me,

Díi tl’ ḵanḵáatl’aas gyaan,

When they led me inside,

’Wáagyaan nang ḵw’áalaa uu sakíidee díi ḵajee tl’ daguhldagán-gwaa,

This person from the opposide side [an Eagle] placed the headdress on my head.

’laa ga tl’ gyaa ísdlee an aa.

just so they could pay him for this.

Díi gudaa’angaasiidluu, hl sG̱áyhlgan.

I didn’t like what was happening, I cried.

’Wáagyaan ahljíi G̱adée gu x̱aad gyáahlandagan.

And the townspeople talked [told stories] about it.

Áa uu tlagw áajii ḵáatl’juugan.

So this is how how they worked these things.

Áayaad uu itl’ x̱ánhlaa G̱ándl xyaangs uu hl da’áang-gwaa, Kyáawan aa.

And today I own the river across from us, the Kyaawaan (Hancock River).

K’uuwán Kún x̱ánhlaa nang xyáangs han asán, Ḵaalán ’laa han asán hl da’áang-gwaa.

And I own the one that flows across from Marten-Creek Point, the Ḵaalan, I also own that one.

Ḵáahl agwíi nang is han asán, Áawan han asán, hl da’áang-gwaa.

And the one that’s way up the inlet, the Aawan, I also own it.

Díinan ḵáahlii aa G̱ándl xyáangs han asán hl da’áang-gwaa.

The one that flows into Diinan Bay, I also own that one.

Haay!

Listen up!

Gam tlíijisdaan áatlaan ts’idaltlaa’ang-gwaa.

I didn’t move here from somewhere else.

Áa uu ’lngee gu díi ḵáaygaagan.

I was born in this village.

Díi ḵáa ’lngee da’áagaanii ahlaa.

Because my uncle owned the village.

Áa uu tlíisiidluu díi aw díi gin suudagiinii uu aa íijang.

This is all that my mother told me.

’Wáagyaan hawán jíingG̱usdlaas gyaan ’wáagyaan áasdluwaan díi ḵagánjuu G̱ahgalgan.

There is more to it than this, but now my throat is tired.

Haay! Kilsdlee aangaa, díi kil aa daláng gyúulangs sang, daláng aa hl kil’laagang.

Listen up! Honorable ones I thank you for listening to my voice!

Háw’aa Gulḵíihlgad, Gulḵíihlgad uu wéed uu ’l kya’áang-gwaa, iitl’ gyaa uu íijang-gwaa.

Thank you G̱ulḵiihlgad, they call her Gulḵiihlgad, that’s ours.

Díi gid uu ’l íijang. Áa uu tlagw ’laa an hl gudáng-gwaa.

She is my child. This is how I think of her.