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
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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