Lütke declares that suicide is unknown among the Tlinglit. He says that there is not even an instance of a slave taking his life. According to our findings, suicide is not such an unknown act. An injured person who has no possibility of revenge, or someone who is pursued and sees no way out, takes his life with the thought that he is thereby injuring his enemies, for the person who drives another to suicide will still be held responsible by the dead man’s friends and relatives, just as though he had killed him outright. A woman was accused by a shaman of the Stikine of causing the illness of another woman by witchcraft, and the relatives of the latter faced her with this accusation. This upset the accused woman that she seized a knife and cut her throat. As a result the shaman, as well as the relatives of the sick woman who brought the accusation, were besieged by the relatives of the dead woman in their homes until they acknowledged their guilt. A way of seeking death by those who wish to end their lives is to commit themselves to the sea in a canoe without paddles. The story goes that a Chilkat Indian who was badly scratched up in a fight with his wife, through shame and anger, left without a word to commit suicide after spending the night sitting in the trader’s house. However, this time it went no further than the attempt. After dark the following evening the supposed dead man returned and without much resistance allowed himself to be reconciled with his wife.
When in 1875 a Stikine chief, Fernandeste by name, committed suicide while he was being taken to Portland for a hearing because he became depressed on account of his circumstances, according to the report, his relatives demanded compensation of General Howard, claiming that the other Indians called them cowards because they had not taken revenge for his death. To pacify the Stikine, Howard gave them 100 blankets and delivered the body of Fernandeste.
[#44] Aurel Krause, The Tlingit Indians. Seattle: University of Washington, 1956, pp. 155, 281
One Response to TLINGIT
#44 Holding Others Responsible for Suicide
(Aurel Kruase, 1881-1882, 1956)
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