Mink and the Wolves – Rose Mitchell
Mink felt he was quite a man – he was jealous of other men. Nearby, in the village of the wolf people, there was a highly- respected man whom mink thought was his rival. This man, the son of the wolf chief, was named K’kiyalhumixw * person who has been spoiled too much.+ he was very handsome.
Mink decided that he should kill his rival, so he called on his grandmothers, some from the sea and some from the land, for help. He called on littleneck clam, mussel, cockle, octopus and seaweed and he also called on mouse and knot-hole. Mink told all his grandmothers to be ready, as he had jobs from them to do.
When mink saw K’kiyalhumixw leave the wolf village to go out hunting, he set out in his canoe. Mink had a plan. He put his head under the water and pretended that he was looking for cod.
Mink’s rival came down towards the beach and yelled at him, but mink pretended that he could not hear. Mink was singing a song. The words of the song said that he could not look around because he might miss the cod fish he was looking for. “Mink, you had better listen to me!” his rival, the wolf chief’s son yelled out “oh,” answered mink, “I heard you from under the water.”
Mink went ashore and picked up his rival. He took him out in the canoe which he had a bunch of sea urchins, one of the favourite foods of mink, and also of K’kiyalhumixw. Because he was tired from hunting, mink’s rival laid down in the bottom of the canoe. “Here, have some sea urchins,” offer mink. “Eat lots!” mink knew that eating too many sea urchins makes a person sleepy.
The wolf chief’s son ate and ate the sea urchins and soon became very sleepy. Mink kept rocking the canoe a little bit to see how sleepy his rival was becoming. Finally, K’kiyalhumixw was fast asleep with his neck stretched across the canoe seat. Again, mink rocked the canoe, but his rival did not move. Mink cut off his head.
Mink returned to his own village, bringing wolf’s head with him, he hung the head, face down, from the rafters of his grandmothers’ house, then told them to prepare themselves for their different tasks. Mink’s grandmothers knew that he was in serious trouble! The next morning, when it became light, mink hung his rivals head on the top of the roof.
When some children came past calling out, “we have things to sell! We have things to sell!” mink, who was lying down with his hands behind his head, yelled to them, “look up there!” the children screamed and ran to tell the wolf people what they had seen.
Wolf’s grandmother came over to see for herself what had happened to her grandson she screamed and fell on her back, then gathered together all her relatives. They planned to kill mink. “Kill him the same way he killed my grandson!” she told them.
Meanwhile, mink had gathered his grandmothers together and was telling them what to do. “Mouse, you will be the first to help. Go down to the beach and chew holes in the wolves’ paddles and canoes. Littleneck clam and mussel, I want you to be by the fire. Octopus and seaweed, I want you to lie outside the doorway. Knothole, I want you to do whatever I tell you in the song I will be singing.”
Mink knew that the wolf people would invite him over and then try to kill him. But he was ready for them. The next day, a wolf messenger invited mink to visit them. Mink took his time getting ready; he was busy putting on the skin of the K’kiyalhumixw. But finally, he was ready and went over to the wolves’ house.
“These are the clothes of that wolf wore!” announced mink as he made his entrance, the wolf people recognized their chief’s son’s skin. Holding the skin together at the throat, mink swung around so that his tail slapped some of the wolf people in the face. They were furious!
When he realized that all his grandmothers were in place, mink continued, “I was dancing when I killed wolf, I want to be dancing when you kill me.” Again, he swung his tail around, this time hitting the wolf leaders in the face.
The wolf people were so angry they began to growl, but mink kept dancing around, heading towards the door. He was getting scared. “And this is when I killed K’kiyalhumixw! Now you go ahead and kill me!” he shouted. They threw spears at him, but he quickly wriggled out of the skin and began to sing, “knothole, make yourself bigger!” instantly knothole opened up enough to let mink through and he escaped down to the beach.
The wolves ran out the door after mink, but his grandmothers were doing their job. The wolf people fell all over each other because octopus and seaweed had spread themselves out on the ground in front of the doorway.
Down at the beach, mouse had done her job. She had chewed holes in the wolves’ canoes and paddles, leaving one canoe and paddle intact for mink to use. Mink jumped into his canoe and paddled out away from shore, then shouted “here I am!” there was little the wolves could do, for their canoes were sinking and their paddles were not working.
Suddenly, the wolves realized that there were two more canoes away at the far end of the village, they raced to them and were off after mink, as mouse had forgotten about these two canoes. Mink began to
paddle faster. But two more of mink’s grandmothers were there, underwater, prepared to help him. They were sea cucumber and sea snail.
Faster and faster , mink pulled, but the wolves were gaining on him. Finally, he jumped into the water, but they caught him and hauled him into one of their canoes. “I was dancing when I killed wolf.” Mink told them, “I want to be dancing when you kill me.” As he said this he caused the two canoes to come together, then spread apart-he had one leg in each canoe and doing this almost split mink apart! Suddenly, mink dove overboard and swam right down to a flat rock underwater where he knew one of his grandmothers was waiting. This is why minks dive deep today.
The wolves threw their spears at the rock where mink had swum. But sea cucumber was ready-she let out her innards and they floated to the surface. Thinking these were minks’ intestines and that now he was certainly dead, the wolves put them in their canoe and headed for shore.
The wolves had not paddled far, however, when mink surfaced, first here, then there, taunting them, “is that mink you have? Is that mink you have in your grey canoe?”
Again, the wolves threw their spears at mink. This time, red fluid floated to the surface. Mink’s grandmother had provided it. Thinking for sure that this was mink’s blood and now he was most certainly dead, the wolves paddled homewards.
When wolf-people arrived back at their village, there was mink, running along the beach. That is why minks can be found running along the beach today.