The legend of Atshen
Story-teller: Anne-Marie Valin, 1978.
There was an elder who hunted on his hunting territory. The elder had a wife. They did not know very well where they were camped.
The elder said to his wife « We will leave here. We will go and live on the other side of the river. »
The woman said to him:
« I agree. »
They prepared their baggage and left for the other side of the river. They set-up their camp. The evening came, the elder said to the woman: « We will look all around. I think that we are going to see strange things. We are going to be afraid. »
His wife said to him:
« I agree, we will not move. »
A little later they heard something strange. They looked at the other side of the river, there where they had left the other side of the river with their canoe. They saw a fire and as though someone was next to it.
The man said to his wife: « I am starting to think, when the others spoke to me of Atshen (which one could hear sometimes) and who, from time to time, he harms people. That must be true that they said to me. »
His wife was scared and replied: « He will kill and eat us. »
Her husband said to her: « Do not say that. He will leave here and go with the wind. »
During this time, Atshen was near to his fire. It was dark. All of a sudden, the man and his wife heard a great rush of wind and the wind went further and further away. They stayed awake the whole night. In the early morning, they saw nothing and heard nothing more.
The man said to his wife: « He is no longer there. We will see what has happened on the other side. »
Once they arrived on the other side, they saw that everything was disturbed. There were stovepipes on the ground and all that was needed for wood. A little further away, they saw people who came towards them saying: « All that you see there, it was the sorcerer and Atshen who did that. The sorcerer protected us and he wishes us well. He has taken Atshen far from here so that we will not see him again. »
Atshen is now very far away.
Who was Atshen?
Atshen was a legendary character feared by the Ilnuatsh. An evil being to be avoided at any price, since there is a risk in killing him. All tried to avoid him. It was too dangerous to face him. When people sensed his presence, they flew as quickly and as far away as possible. If by misfortune Atshen met them, they had to be resigned to fight him.
In fact the only thing people truly fear was Atshen, since they had no control over him. The other elements of nature, they could always succeed in understanding, but the spirit of Atshen, impossible.
Many elders having lived in the territory said that they have seen traces of his passing. Even today, people say little. They do not fear it any more, but cannot forget that it has already existed since, in the forest, the countryside is marked with signs of its passing.
A frightening character due to its height and appearance, it produced terror by its cruelty.