Simeon Scott:A resident of Fort Albany and close to retirement at that time, Simeon Scott was in charge of a branch store of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Albany. A native speaker of Swampy Cree, he also spoke considerable English. Simeon Scott died 28 August 1979. Each of his stories were recorded in Cree and transcribed with glossary and notes in Cree Legends and Narratives. The accompanying English translation is provided here.
Where the First People Came From was told by Simeon Scott to C. Douglas Ellis as part of a series of 12 stories between 1955 and 1957 and published in the book Cree Legends and Narratives from the West Coast of James Bay. Ed. and trans. by C. Douglas Ellis, U. of Manitoba Press, 1955. Winnipeg. ISBN 0-88755-159-9
Where the First People Came From
So then, I shall tell another legend. I'll tell a story, the legend about ourselves, the people, as we are called. Also I shall tell the legend about where we came from and why we came ..., why we who are living now came to inhabit this land.
Now them, first I shall begin.
The other land was above, it is said. It was like this land which we dwell in, except that the life seems different; also it is different on account of its being cold and mild [here]. So then, this land where we are invariably tends to be cold.
So that is the land above which is talked about from which there came two people, one woman and one man, ...they dwelt in that land which was above. But it was certainly known that this world where we live was there.
Now then at one time someone spoke to them, while they were in that land of theirs where they were brought up. He said to them, "Do you want to go see yonder land which is below?"
The very one about which they were spoken to is this one where we dwell.
"Yes," they said, "we will go there."
"That land," they were told, "is different, appears different from this one which we dwell in, which you dwell in now during your lifetime. But you will find it different there, should you go to see that land. It is cold yonder. And sometimes it is hot."
"It fluctuates considerably. If you wish to go there, however, you must go see the spider at the end of this land where you are. That is where he lives."
The spider, as he is called, that is the one who is the net-maker, who never exhausts his twine, -so they went to see him, who is called the spider. So they reached him.
Then he asked them, "Where do you want to go? Do you want to go and see yonder land, the other one which is below?"
"Yes," they said.
"Very well," said the spider. "I shall make a line so that I may lower you."
So then, he made a line up to, - working it around up to, up to the top.
"Not yet, not yet even half done," he said.
Then he spoke to them telling them, better for him to let them down even before he finished it the length it should be.
Then he told them, "That land which you want to go and see is cold and sometimes mild. But there will certainly be someone there who will teach you, where you will find a living once you have reached it. He, he will tell you every thing so you will get along well."
So he made a place for them to sit as he lowered them, the man and the woman.
They got in together, into that thing which looked like a bag.
Then he instructed them what to do during their trip. "Only one must look," he said to them. "But one must not look until you have made contact with the earth. You may both look then."
So, meanwhile as they went along, one looked. At least he caught sight of the land.
The one told the other, "Now the land is in sight."
They had been told however, that "if one, ...if they both look together, before they come to the land, they will go into the great eagle-nest and they will never be able to get out and climb down from there."
That's where they will be. That's what they were told.
Then the one told the other, "Now the lakes are in sight. Now the grass."
Then they both looked before they arrived, as they were right at the top of the trees. Then they went sideways for a short while; then they went into the great eagle-nest. That's where they went in, having violated their instructions.
Now then, "Look down!"
They saw all the creatures which live there on earth; the bear, the caribou, the beaver, the otter, the fisher, the mink, the wolverine, the lynx.
Then at one point the caribou walked there right across [from them].
They said to him, "Come up and help us. We cannot get down."
The caribou said to them, "No. I never climb up."
He showed them what his hooves looked like.
Then the lynx came by.
So once more they said to him, "Come and help us. We cannot get down."
"Never, ... not effer am I climbing," said the lynx.
He was not telling the truth. He was deceiving them. Then away he went again past them.
Then the bear arrived.
So he said to them, ... they said to him, "Come and help us."
The bear didn't listen for long; but then he started to get up on his hind legs to go and see them. Also another one, the wolverine as he is called. They made one trip each as they brought them down.
But the bear was followed by those people.
That was the very thing which had been said to them, "You will have someone there who will teach you to survive."
This bear, he taught them everything about how to keep alive there.
It was there that these people began to multiply from one couple, the persons who had come from another land. They lived giving birth to their children generation after generation. That is us right up until today. That is why we are in this country.
And by-and-by the White people began to arrive as they began to reach us people, who live in this country.
That is as much as I shall tell.