Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Project Jukebox Survey

Help us redesign the Project Jukebox website by taking a very short survey!

Ellen Demit, Interview 3, Part 2
Ellen Demit

This is the continuation of an interview with Ellen Demit on October 25, 2008 by Stacey Carkhuff Baldridge and Polly Hyslop at Ellen's home in Tok, Alaska. In this second part of a two part interview, Ellen shares a traditional story about a bear and the boy in the woods who got married, talks about the importance of respecting animals, and sings the traditional Eagle Song in her Native Upper Tanana Athabascan language.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2009-07-15_PT.2

Project: Alaska Highway
Date of Interview: Oct 25, 2008
Narrator(s): Ellen Demit
Interviewer(s): Stacey Carkhuff Baldridge, Polly Hyslop
Transcriber: Stacey Carkhuff Baldridge
Location of Interview:
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


Always respect animals

Eagle Song is to be a ceremonial song

Singing Eagle Song

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


STACEY CARKHUFF: We were talking about the boy in the woods that got married. ELLEN DEMIT: Uh-Huh. STACEY CARKHUFF: The was wearing the moose. ELLEN DEMIT: I’m glad you told me. I ready disappeared. STACEY CARKHUFF: I wrote it down. ELLEN DEMIT: Anyway, he ask. Then, he got his first child. And poppa bear inside. In back days you going to have your first baby, you got to move out. That bad. People strict. He going to say, “Injih” And go out. The first baby. And after that baby born – that’s little boy. His husband tell it, “Dii jan dee?” he say. (What’s that?) And he say, “Oh iishee aa hoołeh” That’s right there, he show to the lady – his wife. Walk out, just like regular bear. That girl – all – just don’t know what to think. But, then we not going to keep it. And that poppa bear, he just laugh at baby and die. And next one – he say again, ‘What’s that?” “Oh, girl” “Oh, good…Ch’e iishyah oo-ts’a and di etįį….That mean’s he’s going to pick lots berries for me. And this woman – that’s little boy, but he lie to his husband. And then he got three boys. This one – the father kill, so he got three boys. He (she) dress this boys just like woman, so the daddy don’t kill them. Till he all grown up. He all grown up. And the Mother – they make the clothes all the time. He make the clothes. And one day, he told the Mother, “Naa, (Mom) we got to hunt for moose,” And he say, “Careful” And “The clothes indeh’” That means, “give me the clothes” He give clothes and out there on the...he all dress just like man and three brother-iin go out hunt and that day – no moose. And he run into another bear. Maybe that’s the uncle. This boys shot this one bear with arrow and then all day he hunt – nothing. So he come back. And him – he stand out there and plan on what he going to do. And, he see the three boys. He go in - tell her. “Oh, look like we going to have visit.” Put that hot water, whatever, you know. This woman don’t know what to tell. Boy old grandpa gets mad. He’s mad. And This boys-iin come back with bear meat. He told his mother now. “Shoh...” That means, “We see bear. We kill,” The mother too, her heart beat. And He told his boys, “Real real careful. You don’t know what’s going be. Maybe he won’t going kill us. So, Be real good.” Anyway, he bring this bear meat. And this poppa bear, he put those mark on his mouth and around here and then boys going to cook that bear meat. He say, “No, I going to cook it.” And bear cook that bear meat. He going eat. That’s why he put that think –pink. And he never talk all those time. He’s getting mean and his kids-iin go down (to the) Flat. “We going to eat berries,” “You guys put you own clothes, “ he tell his son-iin. Take his clothes out, give to the mother and he put bear skin. And poppa bear go with them and on the Flat -picking berries…eating berries and then Yaa Mann’ Tee Shy come along (that’s world man). He come along and he watch all those time. He watch. And pretty soon, he see woman.“Gee this is…it’s not right.” He just sit there. Hide it. He scared. He go in water and he breathe out with something. That one too. He got to have something. Breathe – if you drown, you in water. Maybe you can’t breathe- and you have water. And he have that kind. All of them walk around on the Flat like bear. He all with their father. And one…that one brother – he going shoot. And this boys don’t know this animal – their father. And real. This boys don’t know. He don’t know how it happen. Anyway, he all eating berries and picking berries. And Yaa Man Tee Shy shown up to them. And he going shoot with arrow. Pull her head out. Wow, that’s not bear. And then, this boys got back to their Mother. “We got supposed to protect our Mother”. And those boys work hard. Way – quite a ways from house. He dig the hole where he got to breathe out. He cover the Mother. And he cut tree and this…all this load. And bear, he’s weird. He come back. He going to kill his wife. And this boys-in. Trail – one right there. One - right there. And other one, make sure that Mother is OK. And he going to shoot. He pull his head off. It’s too late. They did shoot. And then, he gets – that wild man gets in the water and try to save himself too. That’s why you got to respect that animal. Just like person. Just like us – he used to talk. Someone told me. I not there. Don’t see. But this is the real story. My dad and my mother give me. STACEY CARKHUFF: Hmmm. That’s a really good story. I really like it.

POLLY HYSLOP: You want sing that song and I cook you lunch if you want. You want sing that song for her. STACEY CARKHUFF: The Eagle Song. ELLEN DEMIT: Mmmm. Okay. Eagle song – that’s not dance song. That’s for ceremony. My granddaughter – taught my granddaughter how to dance to that Eagle Song. STACEY CARKHUFF: Hmmm. ELLEN DEMIT: Get me that good half Ch’ishyaan t’aa (eagle feather). Make sure Eagle got that ….and Eagle. Take good one. STACEY CARKHUFF: So, would you sing this type of song at a Potlatch or at a Party? ELLEN DEMIT: Yeah, Potlatch we going to sing. But, not real too much. Everybody tape that song already. I think this one Ch’ishyaan. Ch’ishyaan. STACEY CARKHUFF: Is that the name for eagle feather? ELLEN DEMIT: Mmmhuh. POLLY HYSLOP: Yeah. Eagle. That’s it? What else? ELLEN DEMIT: I need one more. POLLY HYSLOP: Oh, one more! ELLEN DEMIT: Polly! POLLY HYSLOP: Sorry, Auntie. ELLEN DEMIT: You ready? STACEY CARKHUFF: Yep.

Naa doh, yah Ch’ishyaan noo Dzii Hiin ay Na’ ee. Hay Hay Hay haa ay. Hay hay hay haa ay. Ii’ ii’ ii’ ii’