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Native American Legends

Bluejay finds a wife

A Chinook Legend

Bluejay was a trickster who enjoyed playing clever tricks on everyone, especially his sister Ioi. As she was the eldest sister, Blue Jay was supposed to obey her.

But he deliberately misinterpreted what she said, excusing himself by saying, "Ioi always tells lies."

Ioi decided that it was high time for Bluejay to quit his playful life of trickery and settle down with a wife. She told him that he must select a wife from the people of the land of the dead, who were called the "Supernatural People." Ioi recommended that Blue Jay choose an old woman for a wife and suggested the recently deceased wife of a chief.

But Bluejay balked; he wanted a young and attractive woman. He found the corpse of a beautiful young girl and took it to Ioi, who advised him to take the body to the land of the dead to be revived.

Bluejay set out on this journey and arrived at the first village of the Supernatural People.

They asked him, "How long has she been dead?"

"Only a day," he answered.

The Supernatural People of the first village then informed him that there was nothing they could do to help him; he must go on to the village where people who were dead for exactly one day were revived.

Bluejay arrived at the second village the next day and asked the people to revive his wife. The people here too asked him how long she had been dead.

"Two days now," he replied. "There is nothing we can do; we only revive those who were dead exactly one day." So Bluejay went on.

He reached the third village on the day after that and asked the people to revive this wife.

"How long has she been dead?" they asked.

"Exactly three days now."

"Most unfortunate," they replied. "We can only revive those who have been dead exactly two days."

And so it went on from village to village until Bluejay finally came to the fifth village, where the people could at last help him. The people of the fifth village liked Bluejay and made him a chief. But the trickster tired of the Underworld and wanted to take his newly revived wife back to the land of the living.

When Bluejay arrived at home with his wife, her brother saw she was alive once more and ran to tell their father, an old chief, who demanded that Blue Jay cut off all of his hair as a gift to his new in-laws.

When there was no response from Bluejay, the chief became angry and led a party of male relatives to find him. Just as they nearly caught him, Bluejay assumed the form of a bird and flew off again to the land of the dead.

At this, his wife's body fell to the ground, lifeless. She went to meet her husband in the land where he was now an exile.

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