Beaver Man makes the Yukon River
as told by Mrs. Martha Taylor
One time long ago, Beaver Man he’s travelling around, a-travelling and a-travelling. The sun he was real hot, and Beaver Man he get thirsty, you know, real thirsty like when you don’t got even spit to swallow. He need something to drink real bad. One man he’s a-travelling with, he fall down dead he so thirsty.
Beaver Man pretty soon he say to himself, “What I going to do?” And he start thinking, and pretty soon he say to the people he’s a-travelling with, “I going to make you some water so you better get ready to drink.”
Then Wolverine say, “There’s no water. How you going to make some?” And they all get mad at him, think he’s crazy, just want to make big show. Especially Wolverine, he’s real mad.
Beaver Man he take and cut willow stick and he tie willow stick to his walking stick with a piece of … [babiche]. Then he go down in a little valley, at the top end of it, and he say again, “I going to make you some water, so you better get ready to drink.”
Then he stick willow into the ground. Pretty soon lot of water coming out. Lot of, lot of water from good clean spring. All these people with Beaver Man, even Wolverine, they so happy they stick their head right in the water.
After that each time Beaver Man and his people they get thirsty, he go up to top of little valley, stick in willow stick, and water come out. Lot of water.
He done this many times. Each spring it make a stream, and after long, long time these streams so many they big enough to make Yukon.
All that, it happens long time ago. That’s the end of the story.
from: Richard Mathews, The Yukon (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c. 1968).
Illustration by Michael Mason