Kit's Courtship by Woodrow Morrison - P.O.W. Report

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Kit's Courtship by Woodrow Morrison


Tlingit and Haida people of Alaska is my favorite facebook group [which I encourage you to follow] below is a story from Dr. Morrison 

by Dr. Woodrow Ḵáawan Sangáa, BA, JD.

Growing up in Hydaburg, Alaska (Haida Community) was a magical place. We boys were never at a loss for things to do... cutting wood, carrying water... helping the old people.... PLAYING! On the other hand we did not have that European thing about "Children are to be seen and not Heard". They talked to us, told us stories, listened to us, teased us, protected us, and loved us.

One man who always had a good story for me... and the other boys, was David Jason. Actually, his name was Jason Natkong but, the missionaries were upset because he did not have a Biblical name so he was given the name "David" and, he became known as David Jason. I did not know him by any name except "Kit"... until I was in my teens: it might have been "Kid", but to my hearing he was "Kit".

He had a smokehouse at the north end of the village, out on a small tongue of land that was more like a small island. He had somehow acquired a large cauldron, left behind by the Russians who had used it (and others like it) to cook for the Mink in their Mink farms. Kit used it to render Seal Oil from Seal fat.

A small group of us pre-teen boys would hang around like a bunch of seagulls waiting for scraps of the rendered fat (Seal Cracklin).

When the fat had been cooked thoroughly and the cauldron was left too cool, we watched it. Once all the oil had been ladled out, the cauldron was tipped on its side and we boys went at it. Often the bits of rendered fat had little tid-bits of seal meat on them - yummy. All of us boys, understandingly were covered seal oil. To the uninitiated, it is not a pleasant odor. However, we loved it.

Kit’s wife was a very lovely and kindly lady name Edna. Her Haida name was Hiilang Jaat (Thunderbird Woman). Whenever we boys were around their house, there was always a chance of fresh bread and jam (home canned Blueberry, Huckleberry, Thimble Berry, Salmon Berry or Salaal Berry jams). One day, I do not remember who asked but, one of the boys asked him where he "got her". He laughed and told us the story.

I do not remember where the salmon cannery in his story was located (Possibly the New England Cannery at Steamboat Bay, Ak. or the NAKAT Packing Corp. Cannery at Waterfall, Ak., but, that is where it began.

He said the boat he was fishing on (Purse Seining for Salmon) pulled in, unloaded its catch and moved away from the fish elevator to the face of the dock (west end). To get up onto the dock, there was a wooden ladder: he climbed the ladder and was standing, facing away from the cannery buildings - warehouse. Then he turned around and was going to walk to the Cannery office when he saw something above him move. He glanced up to see what it was and saw a beautiful young woman, looking out of a second story warehouse window, waving at him with a cloth in her hand.

He said he didn’t recognize her but he waved back and started walking toward the Cannery Office. He again glanced up at that window, but now she was at a different window, waving at him again with that cloth in her hand. So he again waved back at her. Then he said, "She was real pretty. I thought I would go up there and see who she was."

He entered the warehouse, walked up the steps to the second floor and moved toward its west end where that woman who was flirting with him was waving. He said, "I thought to myself, I must be pretty good for that good-looking woman to keep waving at me. When I got close, her back was to me. She bent down and, there was a bucket there... filled with water. She dipped that cloth in and... she was washing windows." Then he laughed and added, "That’s how I caught her."

Áaw tláan gyaahlangáay láa g̱íidang.
That is all there is to the story.

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