Abenaki storytellers Joseph Bruchac and his son Jesse tell the story of Gluskonba and the Snow Bird in English and Abenkai:
Kita. N8wad sahagipebonek. sahagidebihlab wji pm8wz8winnoak saohosabanik wigw8mw8k ala meskamen8ssa mijw8gan, agwachi 8gmaikok.
Listen. Long ago there was a hard winter. It was hard for the people to get out their wigwams or find food, even on snowshoes.
Ni pm8wz8winnoak lokwazobanik Klozk8ba wijokamid.
So the people called Gluskonba, the one who helps the people.
Klozk8ba paia odanak. Ta8lawi masgilek san8ba z8bossa waz8lik.Wijaw8n Seg8gw pmosala ta wijokama. Pam8gwenikok Seg8gwi piasso w8bignob ta walignob.
Gluskonba came to the village. As a giant he could walk through the deep snow. With him was Skunk, who traveled with him and helped him. In those days Skunk’s coat was white and beautiful.
Chaga 8da akwips8n, “pm8wz8winnoak idak, “mziwi pazgo n’machinabnaji.”
“If this snow does not stop,” the people said, “we will all die.”
“n’kloziji spiwi Waz8li Sibs,” Klosk8ba ida.
“I will talk to Snow Bird,” Gluskonba said.
M8jassa lagwiwi wajok t8ni Wz8li Sibs s8skadali. Seg8gw nozokozo kwelbiwi. Ms8gwata ni Seg8gw legida wji pazgwen Klozk8bai al8mtok li nakwaltak. T8ni adoji paiak wajoi Waz8li Sibs, Seg8gw alwa klajid. Klozk8ba aspig8dawassa w’tali Waz8li Sibs. Ps8noo wji welganikok.
He started toward the mountain where Snow Bird stands. Skunk followed behind. The snow was so deep Skunk had to jump from one of Gluskonba’s footprints to the next. By the time they got to Snow Bird’s mountain, Skunk was almost frozen. Gluskonba climbed to where Snow Bird stood. Heavy snow fell from its wings.
“Nid8ba,” Klozk8ba ida, “kd’achowi kbaa welganal.” Klozk8ba gagalnem madagenipik8n. “Chaga kia 8da kbaaw k’welganal, n’klabidonalji nspiwi io pik8n.”
“My friend,” Gluskonba said, “you must close your wings.” Gluskoba held up a ball of rawhide string. “If you do not close your wings, I will tie them with this string.”
“N’lokaji ta8lawi k’nadodmawi,” Waz8li Sibs ida. Agma kbaa w’welganal ni akwips8n.
“I will do as you ask,” Snow Bird said. It closed its wings and the snow stopped falling.
Kwanossassa pedgipaiak odanak, Seg8gw namiha kdag Sibs wskijiwi kdag wajok. Wassahla pmewasin wji w’welgwanikok.
As they walked back to the village, Skunk saw another bird atop another mountain. Light came from its wings.
“Kagwi sibs na?” Seg8gw nadodmawa.
“What bird is that?” Skunk asked.
“Na Kizokw Mgezo,” Klozk8ba 8zidawa. “Kwani w’welgwanal taodanaal, wassakwhla.”
“That is Day Eagle,” Gluskonba said. “When its wings are open, there is light.”
T8ni adoji paiak odanak, alwa mziwi waz8li sogebasob. Pm8wz8winnoak idak wliwni Klozk8bak. 8da awani ida wliwni Seg8gok. 8lawi sahaga wji agma achi, mziwi pazgo wanalm88did.
When they got back to the village, most of the snow had melted away. The people thanked Gluskonba. No one thanked Skunk. Even though it had been hard for him to make that journey, everyone had forgotten him.
Seg8gw moskwaldahla. “Nd’elokaji kagwi wji w’mikwalmiididji.” ida.
Skunk became angry. “I will do something to make them remember me.” he said.
Paml8gwik, Seg8gw s8gnapolwa. M8jado madagenipik8n. Odosan wajok w’tali Kizokw Mgezo S8skad. W’klabidonal Kizokw Mgezoi welgwanal kbaa kakaswi.
That night, Skunk sneaked away. He took with him the ball of rawhide string. He went to the mountain where Day Eagle stood. He tied Day Eagle’s wings shut with many knots.
T8ni adoji achakwiwik, 8da wassahlaga. Pm8wzowinnohlabanik zagzoak. “T8ni wassakw?” k8g8lewak.
When the next day came, there was no light. The people became afraid. “Where is the light?” they cried.
Pezdanokok, Klozk8ba odosan li Kizokw Mgesoi wajok. W’gwagwajo kadklabido Kizokw Mgezo, kanwa Seg8gw kizitob wz8mi klabidonal agwachi agma 8da w’polwawi pazgwen welgwan. Ni wji kagwi, li pamgisgak, ibitta pabasiwi kd’akinna w’waj8nem wassakw adoji.
In the dark, Gluskonba made his way to Day Eagle’s mountain. He tried to untie Day Eagle, but Skunk made so many knots that he could only free one wing. That is why, to this day, only half the world can be light at one time.
“Awani loka io?” Klozk8ba alidah8zo. Niga namiha al8mptok wji Seg8gw. Nozokamenal nidali t8m8 Seg8gw pmosaljid kao.
“Who did this?” Gluskonba thought. Then he saw the tracks of Skunk. He followed them back to the place where Skunk pretended to sleep.
“N’wawaldam kagwi kd’elokab. Ni paligen, “Klozk8ba ida. Sigwana wdamw8gan wskijiwi Seg8gok. Ni wlito Seg8gw majim8gwezid ta waligen w8bigen piasso mkazawigen. Anegitta ni Klozk8ba nozna nspiwi witkweljial Seg8gwi beskwanek wlitonal w8bigenol m8m8ligenol, wji mikolawama t8ni aligek piasso asma w’palhamen.
“I know what you did. It was wrong,” Gluskonba said. He emptied his pipe on Skunk. It made Skunk smelly and turned his beautiful white coat black. Then Gluskonba ran his fingers down Skunk’s back to make white stripes, to remind him what his coat looked like before he did that bad thing.
Ni Seg8gw kezbna aligid pamgisgak.
So Skunk came to be as he is today.
Seg8gw gwagwajo kashamen majim8gwak mskikoisikok, w’kizitonal majim8gwakkil achi. Kanwa Klozk8ba nasa wskijiwi mskikoisikok, kizitonal wlim8gwakkil.
Skunk tried to wipe the scent off on the grasses, making them smelly too. But Gluskonba breathed on the grasses, making them smell sweet.
Ni t8ni Wlim8kkil Mskikoal kezbna.
And that is how sweetgrass came to be.