The Crazy Bird - P.O.W. Report

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Crazy Bird

Woody Morrison makes regular posts on Tlingit and Haida people of Alaska and you are encourage to follow [here].

(The Crazy Bird)
by Woody Ḵáawan Sangáa

I started trolling commercially for salmon with my father, Woodrow Sr. when I was 7 years old. He owned a 48 foot long, wooden hull commercial fishing boat named TOTSY - his youngest brother’s Haida name was Yeihl T’aadts’ii, he couldn’t pronounce it correctly and always pronounced it "T’aadsee" so my Chenaa (grandfather) named the boat "Totsy".

The Crew’s quarters also known as the Forecastle (bunks) were below deck, just in front of the engine, and, it was also a small sink, the Galley Stove and a fold-up Galley Table: Food was cooked and eaten here.
Our commercial salmon season began in May - we kids were let out of school around the 15th of May so we boys could go fishing with our Uncles and fathers... The boat was rigged with 4 wooden Trolling Poles - two were located at the mid-point of the boat, called the Main Poles and two shorter ones were rigged near the bow of the boat, hence... Bow Poles. We would troll (drag lures) from early morning (around 3 or 4am) until early evening then find a safe bay, sheltered from any weather, for the night.

Whenever we anchored for the night Dad would climb into his bunk and read. I would go out on deck and put down a fishing line... hoped to catch a halibut and, fortunately I didn’t ever hook one. They can grow to over 400 lbs.

One quiet evening, I was 9 years old, just before Ḵaḵ’éihl (Sundown) a bird in the nearby Ḵíidaay Ḵáahlii (forest) began its song. It was the most beautiful bird’s song I had ever heard. Excited I started calling, "G̱ung! G̱ung!" ("Dad! Dad!")

An excited cry on a boat always brings an immediate response. Díi G̱ungáay (my Dad) came rushing on deck. "What’s wrong?" he asked as soon as he was on deck.

I was facing the forest, "Dad! That bird! It’s the prettiest song I ever heard." Dad listened for a minute then said, "Pull up your line and come inside."

At sea, one doesn’t ask questions, just obeys immediately.

Dad returned back below deck, I pulled up my hook and stowed my line then followed dad to the Foc’sle. I asked him what was wrong and he answered, "That Bird."

I immediately said, "Yeah. That was the prettiest song I ever heard." Dad shook his head, "No gunáa (dear boy), that is X̱it’iitaay Ḵuunanggaalaa (The Crazy Bird). If you listen to its song you will go crazy. If you don’t listen, it will go crazy singing its song."

When someone texts you a mean, hurtful message or says mean things or upsetting things to you, that is the Crazy Bird Singing. Do not listen, do not engage, do not respond, IGNORE IT. It will go crazy listening to its own song.

Cell Phones are Zombies, they eat brains (heh-heh).

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