Children Stolen by Cannibal Basket Woman

Told by Snoqualmie Jim, Makah, 1924

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This tale is a version as recorded by an anthro, who didn't care much about stories as stories. Most of the dialog and life are gone from it, and likewise the songs which the storytellers act and sing. Hans Haeberlin, "Mythology of Puget Sound," Journal of American Folklore. XXXVII (1924). Here the boy isn't a junior villain, he doesn't call down the cannibal on the other kids, he just talks too loud about her.

A great many people were camping near a river and there were many children with them. The children went out to play together. There was a little humpbacked boy among them whose name was Askekuitc.

This boy would sing " You watch out, you girls, the big animal will carry you away in his basket. " The oldest girl said to him, " Don't say that, the wild animal will get you too. " The nameof this animal was Sxway6'klu. It was a woman with a large basket on her back. This woman came down and got the little humpbacked boy first of all. Then she got the other children too. The basket was full of children and the boy climbed up and held onto the rim of the basket.

Sxwaysh'klu took the children to her house in the woods. On the way she brushed against a branch. The boy held on to it but the woman shook her basket and he fell back. This happened five times. Finally the boy clung to the limb of a tree and the woman did not notice it. Then when the woman was out of sight he let himself down and ran home to tell his people. He told them that Sxway6'k!" had stolen all the children, " I saved myself by getting hold of the branch of a tree while the woman carried us in her basket. " The people chased after the woman with spears to kill her.

The woman carried the children into her house and made a fire. She made stones hot to cook them. She began to dance around the hot stones and sang, " The stones are hot; I shall eat the children. " Sxway6'k!u closed her eyes as she sang and danced.

The oldest girl said, "How would it be if we pushed her on the hot stones?" As soon as the woman came dancing around to the place where the oldest girls were, they pushed her over on the hot stones. She cried, "My children, help me, get me off the stones, I will send you back to your people." But the girls did not believe her and they took a forked stick and held the woman down on the stones until she was cooked.

Then the oldest girl took the children - back home. just as they were halfway home they met the people coming after them with the little humpbacked boy leading the way. The people were glad to see their children again and they asked how they had escaped. The girls told how they had killed the woman, but the old people would not believe it, so the children took them to the woman's house and they saw it for themselves. Then they all went home together.

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CREDITS: Story transcribed from

Last Updated: Sunday, July 07, 1996 - 4:10:04 AM