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The Great Spirit became very angry with Tu-tok-a-nu-la. The earth trembled with his wrath so that the rocks fell down into the Valley from the surrounding cliffs. The sky and the mountains belched forth smoke and flame. The great dome that had been the home of
Tis-sa-ack, was rent asunder and half of it fell into the Valley. The melting snows from the high mountains came down into the Valley in a flood and drowned hundreds of the people. But the wrath of The Great Spirit was quickly spent,and the heavens again grew quiet. The floods receded, the sun shone, and once more peace and calm reigned over Ah-wah-nee. The life-giving moisture from the renewed streams crept into the parched soil. The oak trees put on new leaves and acorns. The grasses again became fresh and green, the flowers lifted their drooping heads and took on their old gay colors. The fish came back to the streams, and the game to the forests.
But now the roar and heat of the fire were terrible, even inside the roundhouse, and Wek'-wek thought they would soon burn. He was so badly frightened that he told his grandfather what he had done. He said, "Grandfather, I stole Sah'-te's hoo'-yah and put it in the creek, and now I'm afraid we shall burn."
Then Ol'-le took a sack and came out of the roundhouse and struck the sack against an oak tree, and fog came out. He struck the tree several times and each time more fog came out and spread around.
Then he went back in the house and got another sack and beat the tree, and more fog came, and then rain. He said to Wek'-wek,"It is going to rain for ten days and ten nights." And it did rain, and the rain covered the whole country till all the land and all the hills and all the mountains were under water--everything except the top of Oo-de'-pow-we (Mount Konokti, on the west side of Clear Lake) which was so high that its top stuck out a little.
There was no place for Wek'-wek to go and he flew about in the rain till he was all tired out. Finally he found the top of Oo-de'-pow-we and sat down on it and stayed there.
On the tenth day the rain stopped, and after that the water began to go down and each day the mountain stood up higher. Wek'-wek stayed on the mountain about a week,by which time the
water had gone down and the land was bare again.
With the availability today of reliable materials for comparing the languages that in the past have been lumped together under the rubric ‘‘Paleosiberian’’ it has become possible to reassess the genetic relationship – or lack of it – between the individual languages of this traditional grouping. It will be demonstrated that the case for the genetic relationship of two of the constituent groups, Chukotko-Kamchatkan and the isolated Amuric language Nivkh (Gilyak), is actually quite strong, although the rest of the grouping must indeed be abandoned as a genetic unit. A case is made for reconstructing a Chukokto-Kamchatkan-Amuric proto-language associated with the Neolithic of the Lower Amur and adjacent coasts of the Sea of Okhotsk. Emphasis is laid especially on the morphology and shared typological features of these languages, but numerous lexical items based on systematic sound correspondences are also introduced. A plausible archaeological framework elucidating the evident closeness of the two linguistic entities is also sketched.
Michael Fortescue, a British-born linguist teaching at the University of Copenhagen, is famous for his intricate analyses of linguistic relationships (genealogical, typological and contact-based) on both sides of the Bering Strait and their possible archaeological and population genetic correlates. In 1998, they culminated in a dense volume entitled Language Relations Across The Bering Strait: Reappraising the Archaeological and Linguistic Evidence. One of the highlights of the book is the proposed kinship between Eskimo-Aleut, Chukotko-Kamchatkan (CK), Yukaghir and Uralic languages forming a new Uralo-Siberian family. This hypothesis was further confirmed by Uwe Seefloth (“Die Entstehung polypersonaler Paradigmen im Uralo-Siberischen,” Zentralasiatische Studien 30, 2000, 163-191) and is considered to be one of the more probable and respectable macrophyla. I corresponded with Michael Fortescue back in the early 2000s trying to organize an interdisciplinary conference on linguistic and cultural data pertaining to the prehistory of Beringia.
Although geneticists (see, e.g., Schurr, Theodore, et al. 2000. “Mitochondrial DNA Diversity in Lower Amur River Populations, and Its Implications for the Genetic History of the North Pacific and the New World,” Am J Phys Anthropology Suppl. 30: 274-275) have been arguing against a special connection between Nivkhs, on the one hand, and Paleoasiatic populations, on the other, there seem to be good reasons to believe that the gap between the two sets of populations was created as a result of gene flow into Nivkhs from the original inhabitants of the Amur River basin. In fact, Fortescue’s linguistic argument makes perfect sense genetically once we peel off the sheer veneer of “southern” admixture (mtDNA hg Y and Y-DNA hg O, ) from Nivkhs and allow for some original lineage loss (mtDNA hg A and C, Y-DNA hg Q) in Nivkhs. On the basis of cultural, linguistic and distributional evidence, Franz Boas (“The Jesup North Pacific Expedition,” in Proceedings of the 13th International Congress of Americanists. Easton, PA: Eschenbach, 1905, 91-100; “The History of the American Race,” Annals of the American Academy of Sciences 21, 1912, 177–183) formulated a hypothesis whereby Chukchi, Koryak, Yukaghir, Itelmens (Kamchadals) and Nivkhs represent back-migration from the New World (see my out-of-America III) separated from its source by intrusive Eskimo-Aleut-speakers coming from Central Canada. (He did not bring up Kets, which now constitute another good candidate for a back-migration from the Americas, again on the strength of both linguistic and genetic evidence.) Boas dated this back-migration to the end of the last Ice Age, which makes proto-CKA likely older than Fortescue’s 4,000 YA. The Boasian “back-migration,” or “Eskimo wedge” scenario remains a viable explanation of the genetic and linguistic pattern in Northeast Asia and Beringia