Our people have maintained their oral history since time immemorial. Oral stories entertain their listeners, teach morals and laws, and teach history and traditional knowledge. Creation stories are important in understanding Carrier Philosphy. The importance of connection to the land and equality between living creatures is clearly demonstrated. Respect is mandatory when conducting ourselves with any aspect of the world. Understanding why things are the way they are helps us understand the world around us, thus creating our Carrier world view.
Estas is a trickster/creator in Carrier oral history. Like most trickster figures worldwide, Estas’s characteristics are not static. He can be an animal, a human, a plant. She has the power to create, destroy, transform, and impregnate. Estas transcends gender and is used to explain the way of the world, especially those things that are beyond human cognition.
Some of these stories were first recorded by Father A.G. Morice in the late 19th century. These stories, in particular fire, light and water, are told in this blog series by the elders of the 21st century. Morice believed that Estas was a trickster borrowed from the West Coast however further research has shown that although trickster stories from all over the continent have similar characteristics, they remain unique to their territory. Carrier people often refer to people with crazy, unique, or silly questions/personalities as, Estas.
Alfred Joseph (Yekooche) explained the importance of understanding trickster stories within a personal context and notes that each person’s story is unique. It is important to note that most stories, although different, contain the same message.
"Estas, he’s a very intelligent person, he needs to know everything there is to know in this world. He’s always on the look out to know new things, that’s why he gets the name Estas. He could be bestowed on a woman or a man and for this story you have to learn a lot of wisdom and how to deal with problems and what to do with sickness. You have to know everything in order to live. Older women, we call them cah’dah. You know, if you give a person that kind a name, a nickname, so you don’t hurt his/her feelings. You know what I mean? That’s why we give them such names. It’s sort of work that didn’t really hurt to think about. You can back track my version of Estas with some of the older people to get their version. There’s no way two of us taught the same, for a reason that if we go out in the bush, both of us cannot get hurt on the same thing. That’s why we are taught little bit different ok. What I say and what anybody else tells you, you could go ask around for verification ok, and get it refined for your own. The principles by which I live, this job may not fit you, so you have to go look for your own principles of what I told you."
Here is a story about Estas to start this series off, enjoy!
Estas Steals Daylight - as told by Bernie Ketlo, Stellat’en
The Grizzly bear had water and fire and the other animals tried to take it away from him but he chased them away. Grizzly bear had a daughter, and when grizzly bear’s daughter went to drink some water Estas turned himself into a pine needle. She tried to get rid of the pine needle, but she couldn’t, so she just drank the pine needle down, and she got pregnant. Not long after that, she had a baby. The baby grew real fast and cried for the water all the time. The baby played with the water, he grew real fast and played with the water bottle all day long. He rolled it around three times and the fourth time he rolled it, he ran away with it. Where the water split out it became lakes and rivers and now everybody had water. The animals had a meeting and they tried to get the fire away from grizzly bear. The muskrat grabbed the fire and jumped in the water with it, but the fire went out. The fox grabbed the fire, and he started running with the fire, and grizzly bear was chasing him for it. And the fox ran around the lake with it and he lit fire all around the lake where he ran. And that’s how they got fire. There was no daylight. It was dark all the time. All the animals surrounded grizzly bear andi0 try to get daylight away from him. They said “Daylight come.” And the animals say “Make daylight come really fast. “ and the fox confused grizzly bear. And he said, “Make daylight come.” And that’s how we got daylight, because the fox tricked grizzly bear.
© Carrier Sekani Family Services, 2016. All rights reserved.
Aboriginal Health Sciences FNST 282-3 (2004) Carrier Sekani Family Services and the University of Northern British Columbia
Story written/compiled by Marlaena Mann
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Last modified: Monday 19-Dec-22 15:19:48 PST