Dzunkwa & the origin of Mosquitos

Dzunkwa & the origin of Mosquitos
Haida Indian Story

In the time before this, Clever Boy and other children of the village were playing outdoors and they were travelling deep into a dark forest when they noticed multicoloured smoke rising from a branch-covered hut. No one was home so they played with the interesting toys strewn about. Suddenly they heard a noise. A giant Dzunkwa (witch) was approaching, cooing seductively and offering the children a piece of red gum.

Clever boy was wary but the other children took the gum. The gum made them sleepy and the other children fell into a deep sleep. Clever boy watched the Dzunkwa chop wood, make a fire and heat a kettle with water as to prepare for a feast. She then collected herbs and spices and let them simmer in the kettle while humming and cackling to herself.   Clever Boy was very scared for them all and knew he must find a way to escape and save them all from being eaten.

In the morning when the children woke up they huddled together in a corner and Clever Boy thought of a plan. He knew one of them had to escape and run home to get some help. He chose his sister as she was the fastest runner. Clever Boy began fiddling with a toy bow.

He shot a toy arrow out the doorway. Telling his sister to fetch it, the young girl sauntered out the door. Once outside she ran homeward as fast as she could.

Dzunkwa was busy stoking the fire and did not notice that the girl did not come back in. As Dzunkwa looked like she was getting ready with her preparation for her feast, Clever boy knew he must stop her. Quickly he devised an alternate plan. “Can I help you fetch some water?” he asked. Yawning widely, looking tired and very confused, Dzunkwa handed him a large container. As he was stepping outside the door, Dzunkwa suddenly realized her folly. Running outside she screamed to Bookwus, and his friends who were just arriving to join in the feast. “Our good dinner has run away. Hearing this, Clever Boy quickly climbed a tree and hid.

Deep in the forest Dzunkwa was searching for Clever Boy. Though he was well hidden, she spied his reflection in a mirror-like pond. Looking up, she called seductively to him. “How is it you look so handsome?”

“I always put my head between two stones”, he replied. “Then I will do so too” Dzunkwa who always had wanted to be beautiful, said. “Come down and show me.” So that she also can become handsome, the boy
instructed her to fetch two heavy stones. On her return she dropped them down. “Now show me,” she cooed.
The boy cautiously ventured down the tree. “Now lie down,” he said . The boy placed her head on one stone and told her to shut her eyes. He lifted the other stone and smashed it down as hard as he could, splitting her head wide open.

The boy raced towards home as quickly as he could. Halfway he met up with the warriors from his village who had been alerted by his sister. They all went back to Dzunkwa’s hut. The immortal Dzunkwa and her friends were just ready to put the other children in the pot when the party of warriors set upon them. They captured all of them and tied them up. Then they freed the children and sent them home.  The warriors then stoked the fires in which the creatures had planned to cook the children. With the flames leaping high, the warriors disposed of the giants. Cutting them up into tiny pieces, they carefully dropped all the pieces into the fire pit. To make sure no single trace of the cannibals remained, the fires were stoked for four days and nights. Sparks and embers flew up, high into the skies, day and night, night and day. Little by little overhead a transformation occurred. The sparks turned, one by one into swarms of buzzing, angry mosquitoes.

This explains why little mosquitoes are eager to taste your blood. And this also explains why a squashed mosquito leaves little trails of gray ashes.

Voices in the Wind, Haida story, Author unknown

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