Saturday, March 25, 2017

The histories of the Yan Yedi and the Daklaweidi people are very closely linked. Both clans came from the upper parts of the Stikine and Taku Rivers, although they might be able to trace their origins even further back to the Yukutat on the Alaska Coast.

The name "Yan Yedi" has been interpreted as meaning "White Cedar People", "mainland people", or "place of hemlock people".

McClellan differentiates between "old" and "new" Yan yedi. The Old Yan Yedi refer to them selves in English as "wolf wolves", while they call the "New" Yan Yedi "wolf fish-hawks". This means that the "Old" Yan Yedi claim the wolf as their crest, while the "New" Yan Yedi claim the golden eagle.

What seems likely is that the "old" Yan Yedi were pushed back up the Taku River by the "New" Yan Yedi who were moving in from the coast and from the Stikine area. One story quoted by McClellan suggests that a young Yan Yedi couple fled to the Nisutlin area after committing incest.

There are a number of different Yan Yedi "creation" stories. One of the most powerful stories is one told by Mrs. Elizabeth Nyman from Atlin. In the story, she talks about two different peoples separated by a glacier....(See Attached summary on the origin of the Yan Yedi people).

 (Information collected from Gagiwdu. At: Brought forth to reconfirm: legacy of the Taku River Tlingit clan)

 Long ago a great glacier stretched to the mouth of the Taku river. There were a people to the south and a people to the north of this glacier, but neither knew that other people were on the other side.

One of the older men, who were the leader of the northern people lived at Kaxhtuk. His name was Xuts, which means brown bear. The northern people were making a house and Xuts's nephews and brother asked, "what shall we make our house of?" Xuts replied, "well, how it would be, how about the hemlock growing over there?" So they went over and chopped down the hemlock with their only adze.

A while later the people to the south heard some noises coming from the other side of the glacier. The old man to the south, whose name was Nada.eya wondered "How could it be that I hear something like a human voice?" Little did he know that there was a people on the other side mourning the loss of their only adze, by singing and dancing. It had been broken while chopping down hemlock.

Meanwhile, on the north side of the glacier the old man thought to himself "let me find out about this". Xuts put something together to float through the river, under the glacier. It was a knee high boot that he covered in pitch so it would be waterproof, then bundled it in wood so it would float. After it was put together he threw it in the river and watched it float away.

Some time passed when the old man from the south found something floating in the river. "Something strange has floated down here. Run and jump in the canoe," Nada.eya said to his nephews. So his nephews went and grabbed the object in the water and brought it back to their uncle. "Then there must be people on the other side of the glacier." He was curious who was over there so he got his slave and made a canoe. then the old man started walking across the glacier, while the slave pulled the canoe with some of those adzes to chip the ice where need be. When they reached the other side they found a lake.

Xuts, the old man from the north saw something on the glacier. He couldn't make out what it was. So he constantly watched the objects on the glacier "look on the side of the glacier, there's something strange, something maybe and eagle or could that be a raven flying along there? It deoesn't look like one to me though," he said. he waited a while still curiously watching that object on the glacier. He could vaguely make out the two figures and soon realized that it was two people hiking across the glacier, and they were walking towards him.

Then Nada.eya made it to the other side and put his canoe back into the water at a place called Goose Slough. He paddled to the shore where he saw the other old man. "Tlaxhwaye," he said to the man on the shore.

Tlaxhwaye", Xuts replied. They were saying hello. A short while after Nada.eya was told about the adze that was broken making the house. It just so happens that Nada.eya had some in his canoe, so he gave one to Xuts, who in return gave him a female slave.

Nada.eya and Xuts discussed how it was to be. During this discussion Nada.eya had an idea. "I have been thinking about it, and this is what I'll do. There will be no glacier there." the next day Nada.eya and his male and female slave started their journey back to the south side. When they got to the glacier Nada.eya decapitated his male slave and dragged the body across the ice. They named the trail of blood Yakwdeyi (canoe path). Along this path of blood the ice started melting as if hot water was poured onto the glacier. And it just kept on melting the ice until there was a path right through the glacier. From then on the north and south people could travel back and forth to each other's villages. This is why there are some coastal people inland and inland people on the coast.

Finally they finished their hemlock house. "Now how shall we name our people after it?" said Xuts who had another name, which was Ltadutin. "So that we will have a name to be called by, this is hemlock house. Therefore we are the Yan Yedi, the Hemlock House Clan". The men are Yan Yedi, and the women are Yanyedisha.