The Story of ISTA
Told by Skyakw (Karen Anderson) on 6 March 1996
Each Nuxalk Family has their
own "Smayusta" as to how their first ancestors descended to
Earth. Smayusta means origin stories, traditional names, territory, songs,
dance, language and dialect, etc. Certain Smayustas are very similar
to all Nuxalk families. Nuxalknalus (King Island) is where the story
of ISTA comes from.
"SONG OF ISTA"
When the world was first created, Patsallht, First Born, thought he was the only one on Earth. He was given a medicine box. In the medicine box, there was a "mukw." He travelled the land, then he came across a group of Sisawk People (Society of Chiefs), those who wore headdresses. He was ashamed because he was not a member of the Sisawk, so he continued his journey. From the medicine box, he took shame. He took the trait of being stubborn because he chose not to approach the Chiefs, and he took jealousy because he was jealous of the Chiefs. He continued his journey, then he met a group of people in a boat. He hollered at them and asked if they would give him a ride. They told him to come aboard. First Born was instructed to cover his head and not look.
Along the way First Born met a beautiful woman wearing a red blanket. He fell in love with her. She proposed to him asking him to get married. He agreed. She told him, 'close your eyes,' and she built him a beautiful home out of hemlock. He opened his eyes and was amazed at how quickly she was able to complete their home.
First Born refused to leave his home once the grizzly bear left him. He would not leave the hemlock house that she built him. The people followed the puppy and this is how they located where First Born is living. They begged him to come and feast with the, but he would not leave his home. Finally, they offered to paint their faces black. It was on this condition that First Born agreed to leave his home and feast with the people.
Seven families offered their daughters to marry First Born. He chose only one and remained with her. They may have had one child who was a son. A woman from the Istamc was warned of a raiding party that would come to their Territory. The Elders say people from as far away as South America, cannibals came and wiped out the entire people of ISTA.