Thomas Doty – Storyteller
In 1906, Takelma storyteller Frances Johnson -- Gwisgwashan -- told linguist Edward Sapir: "Eel was said to have sung through the holes of his own body like a flute. He was called the best singer of all." In Upriver to Morning, Eel sings to Salmon as he begins his year-long journey up the Rogue River.
For the Takelmas, five is the sacred number. Good things happen in fives ... ceremonies, gatherings, vision quests.... The number five is woven into Old Time stories and into everyday life. And it is present in Upriver to Morning, several times. This is a good journey Salmon and his friends are making, a sacred journey.
There are two directions in Takelma myths: upriver and downriver. Upriver is to the east, toward the rising sun and creation. Downriver is to the west, toward the setting sun and the Land of the Dead. In Upriver to Morning, Salmon journeys east to the river's source to meet his teacher, Morning Star.
The Takelma name for the Rogue River is Kelam or Gelam. You can hear the word inside the word for the People: Takelma or Dagelma. It means the People of the River. The Rogue River is the lifeblood of the Great Animal that is the World. In Upriver to Morning, characters journey up the river from the mouth at the Pacific Ocean to the source at Boundary Springs.
In Takelma mythology, Red Tailed Hawk is a powerful medicine person who watches over the People ... sometimes a woman, sometimes a man. If she flies ahead of you as you begin a journey, you will have a good journey indeed. In Upriver to Morning, Red Tailed Hawk watches over the upriver journey of Salmon and his friends. In Edward Sapir's collection of Takelma myths, (Takelma Texts, 1909), Red Tailed Hawk is referred to as Chicken-Hawk.
In the Takelma language there is a sound between "t" and "d" that is not made in English. It is the same with "k" and "g" sounds. Sometimes the name of the People is written Takelma, sometimes Dagelma. It is the same word. Upriver to Morning is set along the Rogue River in the traditional homeland of the Takelmas.