I can't help but wonder how did "Oasisamerica" form as a reference to the Puebloans?
It's a term used OTL quite frequently for the archaeology of that region. I use it for lack of a better term and because using "Southwest" too much makes me think "Southwest of what?" Southwest of a country that doesn't exist TTL? Southwest of an ATL US which took more of northwest Mexico in the Mexican-American War?

Also, there was precious little on the Plains area - what happened to the Dakota/Lakota and the Chippewa and the other tribes of the region?
Covered somewhat in Entry 19. The people who became the Dakota and Lakota OTL are still in *Minnesota and *Wisconsin but they were mentioned. I probably should've written more. In any case, they're undergoing quite an aquacultural revolution and seeing the emergence of some noteworthy centers in what I've termed "Upper Misebian". The Chippewa/Ojibwe and other nearby Algonquians have been jostled around a bit by the Innu to their north but otherwise adapted to pastoralism, mining, and some aquaculture, especially further south, but are still rather separate from the Siouan cultures to their west. Overall copper working is pretty huge in the region.

I glossed over the Plains because it's still rather small-scale in terms of organization and cities but the people there are effectively middlemen on the trade routes between the civilizations of the Mississippi (Misebi) and Oasisamerica/Fusania. It's just the people most taking advantage of it live at the fringes of the Plains like the Caddoans, TTL's Mogollon culture. Still, pastoralism is a pretty important lifestyle change, and a few new crops like prairie turnips (despite their two year growing time) are also valuable. On the northern Plains aquaculture is highly useful since it gives higher yields for the harsher climate (even with the Medieval Warm Period).

You could very much compare it to Central Asia but the lack of any riding animal/cavalry/chariots makes it so steppe nomads have a much harder time gaining superiority (although pastoralist nomads TTL are still plenty successful between bison hunting, raising their own animals, and trading the surplus with villages). The implications of this seem closest to OTL East Africa although there's no Swahili equivalent.
Yeah i am also very interested in the plains nations and how they adapt to a more sedentary higher population density lifestyle, defiitely think this was a key disadvantage they had otl during the american conquest.
Like OTL you have a mix of sedentary villages (albeit here with some more/different crops, especially on the northern Plains) and more nomadic communities which shift seasonally. But unlike OTL, the latter don't have an animal as useful as horses and only on the northern Plains do they have large animals at all, although to the south they're gradually adopting goats which are very useful in their own right.

So population density is higher, but not overtly so. There's only so much good farmland you can get to without expending lots of labour and deforestation is an issue. But pastoralism allows for greater mobility which has really increased the region's value as a place trade routes cross. The Rumahkaki (TTL's Mandan) have certainly benefitted from that as has the entire area of OTL's *North/South Dakota because it's suitable country for reindeer and aquaculture has been adopted to a far greater degree than elsewhere thanks to the colder climate.
 
Oh, so Misebi is Mississipi, that makes a lot of things clear!

You could very much compare it to Central Asia but the lack of any riding animal/cavalry/chariots makes it so steppe nomads have a much harder time gaining superiority
But unlike OTL, the latter don't have an animal as useful as horses

IOTL , horses only arrived on the Plains with the advent of the Europeans. Before that, the Plains tribes uses various kinds of dogs as riding/pack animals.

Speaking of horses, there were massive butterflies with the domestication of the reindeer and the muskox, but I haven't seen horses mentioned, like at all. What happened to them?
 
IOTL , horses only arrived on the Plains with the advent of the Europeans. Before that, the Plains tribes uses various kinds of dogs as riding/pack animals.
Certainly. TTL has reindeer (northern Plains) and towey goats (domesticated mountain goats, southern Plains) accompanying dogs in that role. The goats are inferior to large dogs in carrying capacity but also don't compete with humans (and dogs!) for meat so they're helpful in that role.

Speaking of horses, there were massive butterflies with the domestication of the reindeer and the muskox, but I haven't seen horses mentioned, like at all. What happened to them?
Extinct as OTL. The nearest horses at this time would be in the Norse colonies in Greenland, Yakutia, and Japan. I doubt there would be many, if any, horses in the seasonal (and one permanent) Norse trading posts in Markland and Vinland but there's perhaps a few Inuit at this point who have at least seen a horse.
 
Chapter 23-Arose From the River
-XXIII-
Arose From the River

As the great Imaru River stretches toward the Pacific Ocean, it widens into being a sea in of itself as the combined flow of hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of land passes through one river. On its way the river has carved its way through a scrub desert and punched through the high mountains to create a dramatic canyon. Endless green forests and trees reaching to the heavens now replace the brush and stunted groves of the Plateau as the land now receives ample blessings of water from the skies. Here in this country live the Namals, the People of the River, a stirling example of Fusanian civilisation as much as the Nahuatl might be for Mesoamerica or the Quechua for the Andes. With the river as lifeblood and the forests as body, Namal civilisation arose and supplied endless contributions to Fusania.

Along with the Aipakhpam, the Namals have a true claim to being the most influential ethnic group in Fusanian history, and not just for being the ethnic group from which famed historian and military leader Prince Gaiyuchul of Katlamat hailed from. From the country of the Namals came numerous Fusanian innovations both beloved and detested, from advanced forestry and silviculture to numerous woodworking arts to hierarchial and centralised states. Many more innovations like totem writing, sailing, advanced navigation and shipbuilding, and metalworking passed through the country of the Namals on its way to the Plateau and beyond. The Namals reaped the benefits of their innovativeness by being among the wealthiest people of the region yet also suffered the curse of the innovativeness of others by beyond frequent targets for Coastmen raids. Laying at the heart of the Imaru Basin, their vast trade network influenced all of Fusania and beyond.

The term Namals originated as a collective term for Namal-speaking peoples along the Lower Imaru from the Falls of Wayam in the east to the shores of the Pacific. The Imaru (a Namal term meaning "Big River") represented the lifeblood of their civilisation from its salmon runs to its use as a highway for trade, and for it the term Namal arose meaning "People of the [Imaru] River". Yet the majority of Namals possessed little unity for almost all of history, hence their division into numerous smaller groups speaking a collection of related languages, some not mutually intelligible with each other. From east to west on the Imaru and tributaries, the main Namal groups were the Ihlakhluit (from the Falls of Wayam to the Ninatsuchiji [1] Valley), the Shakhlatksh (from the Ninatsuchiji Valley to the eastern edge of the Irame Basin, including the Imaru Gorge), the Gitlawalamt (in the Irame Basin and downstream on the Imaru to the Kashiwamichi [2]), and the Kigwilatksh (from the Kashiwamichi to the Wakaikami River [3]). Some Namals, especially among the Kigwilatksh, claimed descent from the Tlak'elak, who formerly lived at Tlat'sap and the mouth of the Imaru before mostly being destroyed or assimilated by the Atkhs.

Each Namal group held stereotypical specialties rooted in some level of truth based on geography. The Ihlakhluit were the greatest merchants, Shakhlatksh were the best herdsmen. The Gitlawalamt were the most clever warriors, the Kigwilatksh the best craftsmen, and the Tlak'elak the best seafarers, a skill they supposedly transferred mostly (but not entirelty) to the Kigwilatksh. True enough, clans of Tlak'elak origin controlled the Namal whaling trade as well as external sea trade, paying tolls to the Atkhs at Tlat'sap to both hunt whales and to bring back the bounty to their home towns inland.

At their core, the Namals were a trading and mercentile people. Living on the Imaru and its tributaries granted them access to numerous key fishing sites which became centers of trade since antiquity and the ease of travel the river naturally offered. The natural geography of the Imaru with the coastal mountains and the imposing Grey Mountains blocking the way gave the Namals great control over goods coming from the coast and goods coming from the Plateau as the Imaru offered the easiest path between these locations than the dangerous mountain passes. Further, the Imaru itself posed an obstacle to crossing which the Namals exploited by operating ferries and shipping goods between either side. Located so near the center of the Fusanian world allowed the Namals to prosper greatly since the earliest days.

Because of this linguistic diversity and economic necessity, one of the two great trade languages of Fusania arose here known as the Imaru Trade Language or Imaru Creole. It was primarily a simplified version of the more complicated Namal languages with loanwords and some grammar from Aipakhpam, Salishan, Dena, and Whulchomic languages along with borrowings from the other major trade language, Trade Wakashan. If Trade Wakashan dominated the coast and the Furuge area, then the Imaru Trade Language dominated the interior. Numerous merchants, travelers, and slaves knew and spoke this language regularly, and for it the language gained a crass reputation, associated with unsavory merchants and the underclass.

The Namals themselves shared this reputation amongst outside groups as neighbouring groups like the Aipakhpam and Shlpalmish considered the Namals greedy and avaricious, people who would sell their children and mothers into slavery if they needed a loan and often prone to treachery, picking whichever side looked best. They believed them to frequently cheat and extort travelers and traders for personal benefit. Extensive slave traders and raiders, the Namals gained a particular reputation for cruelty toward their slaves. Neighbours further associated the Namals with prostitution and considered them licentious and perverted thanks to their trade in female sex slaves and misunderstanding of Namal customs which rumour held permitted the ruler to have sex with any woman in his realm. Individual Namal groups might be trusted by their neighbours, but the Namals as a whole rarely were.

The Namals disliked war and preferred to meet their foes through diplomacy and treachery rather than open combat. They often conducted economic warfare against their enemies and sponsered bandits to rob merchants of rival towns and cities and convinced allied cities to close their gates to merchants friendly to their rivals. The ideal Namal war leader was not a warrior but a man who ordered warriors about and just as importantly made sure the warriors received their loot and supplies and kept the fortifications strong. The war leader should know where to find the right man for the job, which often included assassination, betrayals, and other dishonourable tactics. In combat, the Namals preferred to ambush their foes and typically shied away from battles where they were outnumbered. Their leaders almost always led from the rear so to avoid assassination or being specifically targetted by the enemy.

While mercenaries existed elsewhere in Fusania, the Namals employed them to a greater degree than any before and created much of the structure of how mercenary bands and the oral law contracts associated with them worked. The earliest permanent mercenaries often lived in pastoralist communities of perhaps 150 - 300 people tended to by their wives, children, and slaves. The mercenary band itself consisted of a few dozen men full-time and a few others available part-time who rarely visited their homes, instead hiring themselves out to war leaders in need of their services. When not employed, mercenaries contracted as guards for wealthy merchants, nobles, rulers, often from rival areas so as to make their village politically difficult to attack. Just as often these mercenaries lived as brigands and lived off the land and its people, usually avoiding those associated with the politically powerful. If attacked, mercenary bands often used their contacts to raise alliances to punish the offenders making dispersing these villages a difficult challenge. Mercenaries came from many backgrounds but tended to be exiles from their home villages, runaway slaves, or veteran Coastmen seeking their fortune elsewhere.

Namal religion focused around similar animistic conceptions of the world as other Fusanians. Their religion centered around ancestor worship and the acquisition of guardian spirit power gained through appeasing spirits found in nature. The worship of these spirits and ancestors needed to be done in such a manner as to ensure balance, lest bad fortune come upon the community. The Namals considered their ancestors a vital link to the ancient past of the world when the world assumed its current form. As a result, they held the "correct" traditions and ways to best appease natural spirits for successful harvests and the continuation of the salmon runs. A few deities in particular the Namals held cults to, such as to Coyote, Thunderbird, and Its'ikhyan, the spirit of the Imaru River itself. Typically these cults focused on acquiring spiritual power from these entities or their servants and using it to appease the deities in question. As elsewhere in Fusania, sacred mountains, certain rocks in the rivers, and groves of trees served as sites of worship and pilgrimage.

The greatest ceremonies of the Namals likewise focused on appeasement of spirits. The ritual of the First Salmon occurred yearly, where the first salmon caught (always by a priest of noble descent) was ritually butchered, consumed by priests and the ruler of the community, and its bones thrown back into the river. Yet for the Namals this ceremony continued every morning for the next month and various restrictions applied on who might eat the salmon or touch fishing equipment (those considered impure, such as warriors who recently killed, those who had been near corpses, and menstruating women). They believed this necessary as impurity would drive away the salmon spirits and keep them from returning the next year. The Namals also forbid outsiders, including those from other Namal villages, from fishing in their stretch of river or purchasing salmon, instead reserving it for their own community and its guests. During this time, the most successful Namal fishermen often gave away salmon to those less fortunate and often performed other charitable deeds. Gaiyuchul of Katlamat describes this ceremony in his Saga of the Peoples of the World:

"The supposed greed of the Namals is repeated throughout the land and spoken of as a fact of life, yet I have heard of few peoples who observe that ancient ceremony of the First Salmon in a manner as generous as our people. They proclaim us greedy for barring outsiders to fish in our rivers in this time of year, yet not even I myself as Prince of Katlamat might fish outside of my city in that time, for the salmon only offer themselves to those of that community. They accuse of greed for barring the purchase of salmon in this month, yet we realise the spirits of the salmon will not allow themselves to be sold, only freely given away. Thus we follow their example in this time and give alms to the less fortunate."

During winter, the Namals held dances lasting up to five days to honour the spirits and in particular their own guardian spirits. Communities danced and sang themselves into a furious trance and during this time great displays of spiritual power and spirit possession occurred. Acts normally considered taboo such as the eating of dogs and snakes and drinking of blood from animals and birds occurred as means of feeding the spirits and further heightening the mystical atmosphere. Warriors cut themselves to draw blood, in many places once per man they killed, to demonstrate their spiritual power. They never spoke of what occurred at these ceremonies at other times of the year, and believed themselves to be wholly under the control of their spirits thus not actually breaking any taboo. The Namals believed this an act of extreme importance in ensuring balance, as it added the necessary darkness to the light of their own spirits which in turn added darkness to the community and warded away even worse spiritual threats. As with similar acts such as human sacrifices, during more stressful years be it due to famine, war, epidemic, or natural disaster the spirit dances were often shortened, although in no year were they ever cancelled.

Politically, the Namals developed centralised state-level societies rather early in response to the increasing demands of feeding the populace necessitating coordinating more work and perhaps more pressingly planning defense against the increasing Coastmen raids in the 8th century. Their villages and nobles united behind those leaders of important towns called ikanakhs who most capably organised defenses, leaders who in return supplied gifts in the form of labour, tools, and animals. An ikanakh sent trusted nobles to assist subordinate villages in organisation, nobles who reported back to their ikanakh as needed. In his capital town, the ikanakh ruled with theoretical impunity, able to confiscate and redistribute property, take any man's wife for his own, and order punishments and executions at will. He could theoretically apply this force to his subsidiary villages but usually left this power to the village headman. However, the ikanakh walked a fine line in exercising this power as it easily created resentment amongst his subjects, spurring assassination plots and intervention from other ikanakhs. Often councils of nobles dethroned these tyrannical ikanakhs and installed more pliant relatives.

Potlatch ceremonies solidified these early states amongst the Namals. Strong rulers gave away vast amounts of their personal wealth in ceremonies--for a lesser ruler to accept these gifts marked them as effectively a vassal of this leader. Attendance at potlatches held by princes and rulers was expected for vassals, and snubbing an invitation considered a grave insult. Accepting a gift meant later obligations for tribute in labour or goods, including that of weapons or soldiers. A ruler might be a vassal to more than one greater ruler through this system, and the greater city-states tolerated this state of affairs as often as they clashed for control over these communities. A Namal state was thus centered around the bonds between a ruler and his followers, be they in his own town or those elsewhere. Naturally, this horizontal model and the potlatches at the heart of it lent itself well to political intrigue, and rulers always sought to find ways to prevent the attendance of certain figures or discover new wealth to give away.

The worshipful reverence of the Imaru River defined a key element of their politics, as the Namals held in the highest regard the ikanakh closest to the mouth of the river, who in oldest times ruled from the city of Tlat'sap. Numerous legends arose to explain this, but one popular story held that the line of the Ikanakh of Tlat'sap descended from the daughter of Q'mitlwaakutl, legendary ruler of Wayam who led them against the invading Hillmen. This daughter married a clever strategist of that city and later this man used intrigue to gain the position of ikanakh. This ikanakh declared himself first among equals of all peoples of the Imaru west of Wayam.

Accounts dispute the fate of the line of the Ikanakhs of Tlat'sap after the sack of the city by the Coastmen in 857. Some Namal cities traced the line of their own ikanakhs to survivors who fled this destruction, as did many noblemen. Rival cities of the Kigwilatksh, especially Katlamat, Tlat'sap's most bitter rival, claimed the ikanakh's line died out and ceased to exist. Gaiyuchul of Katlamat took this position while acknowledging the arguments for the other side. In any case, the Gitlawalamt tended to place more emphasis on descent from this Ikanakh while the Kigwilatksh tended to ignore it. The Ihlakhluit held no tradition of this event, while the Shakhlatksh found it unimportant.

Katlamat's vehemence on this issue reflects an ancestral rivalry with Tlat'sap, one which ended with Tlat'sap's sacking and resettlement by the Coastmen and especially the Atkhs. With this, Katlamat came to prominence amongst the Namal cities due to being the largest town closest to the river mouth whose ikanakh still remained. It controlled the trade along the Imaru from the ocean to areas downstream (after Tlat'sap took its cut of course) which gave the city great economic wealth. In theory, the Ikanakh of Katlamat was the ruler of all Namals. In practice, he ruled numerous nearby villages almost directly and held some sway over the ikanakhs immediately downstream, but at no point in this era could Katlamat ever be said to rule all the Kigwilatksh (who nonetheless gave great reverence to the city) let alone all the Namals, although the Kigwilatksh often worked in tandem with Katlamat's interests and at no point in history did the Kigwilatksh towns ever fight each other. Still, around 1100 it was one of the most important Namal cities and one of Fusania's larger cities with about 2,000 people.

Katlaqmap emerged as the main rival of Katlamat. While its rulers nominally deferred to Katlamat while detesting them as economic rivals, their interests mostly lay on the Irame River. As Katlaqmap lay where the Irame flows into the Imaru, this site became a natural center of trade and also religious significance. With the Imaru River a sacred river to the Namals and the Irame less so, Katlaqmap used this status to assert its claim to authority over every city in the Irame Basin as they held spiritual authority on the basis on their position on the Imaru (and descent from the Tlat'sap ikanakhs). Naturally, Katlaqmap faced intense opposition from the other Gitlawalamt cities such as K'ashaksh, located at an equally strategic site at the mouth of the Nikkimashi River and by the Irame Falls and possessing a spiritually powerful sacred rock which attracted pilgrims from all over the Irame Valley [4]. K'ashaksh and Katlaqmap fought numerous wars in the 9th through 11th centuries before Katlaqmap's tricks allowed an entrance into the city walls which resulted in the sack of the city in 1049 and its decline into insignificance in favour of Katlaqmap's loyal ally, Tlawiwala [5]. At this point, Katlaqmap rose ascendent and dominated local trade and possessed a population of over 3,000 people in 1100.

The other Gitlawalamt states resisted Katlaqmap's efforts when they could, but many Gitlawalamt migrated south anyway into the Irame Valley, clashing with the Amim and taking numerous slaves as they settled on formerly Amim land. Some Gitlawalamt nobles fled far south, eventually assimilating into the Amim people they ruled over and instilling in the entirety of the Amims a deep and undying hatred not of the Namals or even the Gitlawalamt but Katlaqmap specifically. The number of Amim and their tenacious defense kept the pace of the Gitlawalamt advance slow. Katlaqmap and its hegemony could be bought off with tribute in the form of slaves which needed to come from the Amim, sparking wars. Yet not paying this tribute meant Katlaqmap or an ally might send an expedition to take it by force. This left many Gitlawalamt with equally bad choices and caused them to be the most militarised of all Namal groups.

Downstream from Katlaqmap lay the Imaru Gorge, a great canyon over 100 kilometers in length consisting of relatively narrow passageways through which lay the route to the Imaru Plateau. Although the great rapids of this stretch of the river so famous in later years had yet to form in the 12th century [6], passage still proved difficult without the experience of skilled navigators. This allowed the local Shakhlatksh people to carve out an economic niche in profiting off of those seeking to cross this gap, charging tolls for passage. There arose five towns, two at either end and on either shore of the river and one in the center of the Gorge. These were the Five Cities of the Passage, on the northwest Wimahlgikshat, the southwest Swapapani, the center Qikhayagilkham, the northeast Itlkilak, and the southeast Ninuhltidikh, each with about 1,500 people in 1100. [7] The ikanakhs of these five towns were among the wealthiest men in all Fusania, as so many goods flowed through their lands and the mountains allowed perfect land for pasturing their herds of reindeer, towey goats, and increasingly moose. Their position at the head of river valleys gave them access to ample water for irrigation and the all important salmon runs.

The arrival of terracing in the late 9th century made these cities even richer and less dependent on food imports to feed their people and allowed further economic diversification. The Shakhlatksh put the engineering skill developed from this and armies of slave labour to other uses, namely grand fortifications. Qanats doubled as rooms for ambushes, remote cliff forts secured the perimeter of the Gorge, and in some very narrow places walls stretched all the way from the cliffs to the riverbank. The Shakhlatksh appointed engineers based on their spiritual power, believing only those who controlled the fierce east and west winds that blew through the gorge might be able to fortify their land. The fortifications tended toward the monumental, featuring aesthetic shapes and numerous paintings of animals and gods and spirits abounding on them.

Despite these forts and their wealth, the Shakhlatksh most fought among themselves for much of the Fusanian Copper Age. Dena and Amorera raiders picked at their fringes but their relations with their nearest Aipakhpam and Namal neighbours tended to be cordial with few conflicts fought. Some Shakhlatksh lived alongside Aipakhpam communities in the eastern fringe, and they often hired Aipakhpam warriors as mercenaries. Swapapani-Wimahlgikshat and Ninuhltidikh-Itlkilak were ruled as diarchies and Qikhayagilkham and a few smaller towns ruled by a single ikanakh. Qikhayagilkham occasionally exerted force on the either the eastern or western diarchies, allying with Wayam or Katlaqmap and the other diarchy depending on circumstances. This prevented this area from pursuing a coherent foreign policy as the cities always looked suspiciously at each other.

The Ihlakhluit shared their country with the Wayampam, an Aipakhpam people, and also with the Grey Mountains Dena. This drier, rougher landscape they lived in combined with their close relations with the more distinctive people of the Imaru Plateau made them differ from the rest of the Namal peoples. They centered themselves around the city of Nikhluidikh and its neighbour across the Imaru, Tinainu [8], located several kilometers downstream from the Falls of Wayam at a key fishing spot in the Imaru, and also around the town of Itsagitkkhoq, one of the five communities at the Falls of Wayam immediately upstream from Nikhluidikh. Their powerful leaders styled themselves as with the title istamkh, and their communities were often ruled by two istamkhs, one from either moeity. Thus from the earliest days they had played an important role in the formation of society on the Imaru Plateau. In their lands, the Ihlakhluit lived as farmers, fishermen, and traders, the Wayampam as hunters, foresters, and warriors, and the Dena as herdsmen and animal breeders. Although it stretched only about 35 kilometers along the river, the land developed early on and hosted amongst the most dense concentration of wealth and people in all Fusania, with tens of thousands of people congregating along this stretch of river.

Vibrant terraces carpeted the steep hills and cliffs of this area, growing ample amounts of food for the local people and all the people who came to the area to trade. Inside these cliffs lay great networks of qanats for irrigation and refrigeration and storehouses containing endless jars of preserved food and meat. This great surplus of food permitted a vibrant artistic culture, whose wares sold for great price throughout Fusania. Their most widely known arts to people centuries later lay in the elaborate mortuary canoes and funeral statuary they created for the elites of the Imaru Basin, yet they produced much more from pottery to elaborate clothing to sculptures of all sort. From antler and bone they carved elaborate sticks and tokens for gambling, a pasttime said to be even more frequent than typical trade and barter in their country.

Conflict remained rare as raids were almost unheard of by the 10th century and the Ihlakhluit considered warfare bad for trade. The few Ihlakhluit warriors tended to serve as mercenaries in the employ of either their city or in foreign lands. Nikhluidikh and Tinainu's hegemony over almost the entirety of the Ihlakhluit people likewise kept the peace within their own country. To keep the peace in foreign lands like Wayam or amongst the Shakhlatksh the Ihlakhluit vigorously punished their own criminals and cooperated with outside rulers in ensuring criminals were properly punished so to prevent a cause for war. For the rare times disputes could not be settled peacefully, often over plots of land or crimes involving well-connected people, the Ihlakhluit organised ceremonial battles akin to those found elsewhere in much of Fusania but on an even more ritualised scale. Typically around twenty warriors on either side gathered at a pre-determined neutral location, often in their canoes at the river, and after the initial war dances fought until the other side perished or surrendered. Hundreds of men turned out to watch these battles, cheering and dancing to support their city and kinsmen or intimidate their rivals.

If anything threatened Nikhluidikh, it was Wayam. The Wayamese and especially the Ihlakhluit of the Itsagitkkhoq quarter considered them dangerous rivals, yet rarely made overtly aggressive moves for fear of harming their own prosperity. Wayamese rulers and the merchants never ceased to search for new ways to undermine Nikhluidikh. They frequently intrigued against rulers too friendly to Nikhluidikh's interests and searched for ways to draw away trade. Wayam had one more advantage Nikhluidikh lacked--a hinterland suitable for expansion. Constrained by mountains and powerful states like Ninuhltidikh-Itlkilak, Nikhluidikh might only cautiously expand for fear of provoking their trading partners whilst Wayam's much more open hinterland was full of weaker villages and towns dominated by more distant city-states like Imatelem and Chemna. Over time, this resulted in an almost exponential rate of growth for Wayam compared to Nikhluidikh's more linear growth.

In the early 12th century, the political situation in Namal lands grew increasingly volatile. The elderly Ikanakh Qwalis of Katlamat, who had ruled nearly 40 years, organised a massive potlatch in 1100 uniquely during the wintertime to cement his legacy and the claims of Katlamat to rulership of the Imaru. Securing the allegiance of numerous ikanakhs and lesser nobles including nearly every Kigwilatksh, he embarked on a military campaign in spring 1101 aimed at retaking Tlat'sap from the Atkhs during a rebellion. He conquered Sqamaqwaya, long a contested territory by early fall 1101 but his campaign bogged down after the inconclusive Battle of Tiyaksamikh, the need to return men home for the harvest, and raids from Katlaqmap against his allies. Qwalis died in 1105, but his successor remained extremely popular and sought to make further moves against Tlat'sap. The rise of the Atkh polity of Tinhimha-Yutluhitl under the warlord prince Kawadinak presented a great threat to these ambitions. While Kawadinak focused his attention mostly on the Whulge, local enemies who attracted his wrath often fled elsewhere. Tlat'sap, seeking any aid it could and offering a route to raiding the increasingly wealthy Namal towns, thus attracted many of these men.

Elsewhere in the Namal world, Katlaqmap turned its attention away from fighting with Namal cities further down the Irame and instead attempted to secure its position along the Imaru proper through grand potlatches and military force. Katlaqmap cultivated better relations with former enemies to the south in an attempt to secure this alliance, assisting them against the Amims. A nascent attempt at building something larger than a city-state and its immediate tributaries was underway as Katlaqmap sought to preserve its gains of influence amongst nearby city-states and hammer them into a new sort of alliance never seen before in Namal lands.

Perhaps the most threatening to the Namals were the external forces. The rise of powerful city-state leagues among the Shlpalmish and Whulchomish, increasingly organised Amim states pushing back against the relentless Namal raiding, a renewed wave of Coastmen raiding thanks to the wars of Kawadinak and other warlords, and most ominously of all, a sudden and dramatic change in Wayamese politics thanks to the rise of a noble figure calling himself the returned Q'mitlwaakutl. Whispered voices rumoured that Q'mitlwaakutl sought to throw the region into chaos to aggrandise Wayam at the expense of Nikhluidikh. Despite the ever-increasing prosperity blessing the green lands of the Namals of the 12th century, things seemed more uncertain than ever.
---
Author's Notes
As I mentioned, in many ways the Namals could certainly be considered your baseline Fusanian group. They've got many of the common traits of "civilised Fusania", are wealthy and numerous, and importantly have a notable early advocate in Gaiyuchul helping introduce them to the world.

Originally I planned to do one entry per "quadrant" of the civilised world (the Whulchomic/Coast Salish last entry were the northwest, the Namals the southwest, etc.) yet the size of these entries has rather exploded thanks to my love of detail and the fact I can go on all day about the world I've created. The Namals themselves might as well be a few separate ethnic groups although they do consider themselves to have a single identity. With that in mind I've separated this into two entries, one for the Namals and the other for the Amims and Valley Tanne to their south in the valleys of OTL's Willamette, Umpqua, and Rogue Rivers. Culturally these groups are similar, but the point of this series of updates is to both introduce a bunch of cultural information as well as describe the political situation of the area that group lives in which is of course different by region. Spacing it like this is also helpful as it gives me a buffer of content so next update will probably come next week.

I'm also currently working on some maps, both the promised map from a while back showing the cultural areas of North America and one more specifically focused on the Imaru-Whulge area that is the focus of recent updates.

In any case, thank you for reading as always.

[1] - The Hood River and associated valley of Oregon, named for the settlement Ninuhltidikh (called Ninatsuchiji by the Japanese)
[2] - The Kashiwamichi is the Cowlitz River, its name a Japanese reinterpretation of Qashiamishtikh, referring to the Cowlitz River
[3] - The Wakaikami River is the Grays River and is named for the area of Grays Bay (TTL's Wakaikami Bay) near the mouth of the Columbia River indigenously called Waqaiqam
[4] - K'ashaksh is Oregon City, OR while the Nikkimashi (Niq'imashikh to the Namals) is the Clackamas River. The Irame Falls are the Willamette Falls. The sacred rock is the OTL Willamette Meteorite, carried to the Willamette Valley by the glacial Missoula Floods at the end of the last ice age
[5] - Tlawiwala is Gladstone, OR
[6] - Referring to the "Bridge of the Gods" landslide which OTL dammed the Columbia River and created the Columbia Gorge as we know it today. The effects of this event TTL will be quite interesting indeed, but that's a much later update
[7] - Wimahlgikshat is North Bonneville, WA, Swapapani is on the opposite shore to North Bonneville, WA in OR, Qikhayagilkham is Carson, WA, Itlkilak is White Salmon, WA, and Ninuhltidikh is Hood River, Oregon
[8] - Nikhluidikh is a bit east of Dallesport, WA while Tinainu is on the opposite shore of the river
 
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Once again great update cool to see the rise of an Aztec like league rising( not in slave sacrifice but in the way they are building there empire, of course i generalizeing a lot)
 
Once again great update cool to see the rise of an Aztec like league rising( not in slave sacrifice but in the way they are building there empire, of course i generalizeing a lot)
Thanks. Altepetls were among the inspirations of mine, yes. Although for the Namals there's usually no conception the partner cities and towns in the confederation are equal unlike the Triple Alliance outside of cases like many pairs of cross-river cities like Nikhluidikh and Tinainu. They at least nominally hold one major city like Katlaqmap as their leader and show this as they accept gifts from Katlaqmap's ikanakh. That said, Katlaqmap is certainly treading new waters here, half out of arrogant pride (their ikanakhs are of the greatest descent after all) and half out of seeing how far the limits go in terms of how much they might "control" and thus how much prestige they might possibly have.

Unless you mean the Whulchomic leagues, which are alliances between the wealthiest nobles (some of whom aren't even rulers of anything but their own household) for mutual aid. Those are rather different and almost republican in their structure.
 
Chapter 24-The Valleys of Opportunity
-XXIV-
"The Valleys of Opportunity"

South of the lands of the Namals lay a variety of people living in the fertile river valleys of the region, the great plain of the Irame between the mountains and the lesser plains of the Kanawachi and Yanshuuji. Some referred to them as little but simple peasants and mere imitators of the high civilisation of the Imaru and Furuge for the Namals inspired their civilisation greatly, people of an "intermediate zone" between the Hillmen who surrounded them and the civilised peoples, yet each of these cultures held their own complexity and rich heritage. The lands they lived on permitted great harvests of crops and the hills around them held great resources of timber, pastures, and especially metals. The dynamic between the Hillmen of the highlands and the civilised villagers of the lowlands dominated the social and political outlook of this area, a dynamic becoming ever more important as the great trade route commonly called the Black Road that stretched from the Furuge to the Central Valley of South Fusania, became increasingly traveled. Great wealth flowed through here, and in this land of valleys amidst the forested hillside, great opportunity--and threats--always lurked around the corner.

Amims

The Irame River and its tributaries carves out a wide plain amidst the rugged hills and mountains of coastal Fusania. The greatest tributary of the Imaru west of the Grey Mountains, the vast floods at the end of the last ice age which formed the modern Imaru River and drained the glacial lakes of the Imaru Plateau overflowed into the Irame Basin and deposited vast amounts of lakebed sediments and volcanic soil from the Plateau alongside a great number of boulders creating some of the richest soils in the area. Replenished by regular flooding, the Irame Valley produced rich growths of plants which attracted its earliest inhabitants. Over time, they adapted to the rhythm of the environment and used controlled burns to produce a rich oak savanna akin to those found in South Fusania. The wealth this environment produced made it the most densely populated area in all Fusania with perhaps up to 20,000 people, the majority of whom were called the Amims.

Archaeology suggests the Amims lived a lifestyle different from their neighbours, being less sedentary and hierarchal and in many ways more comparable to South Fusanian groups. They were slower to adopt domesticated animals (especially reindeer) and switch to horticulture and later agriculture than the Namals to their north, which as population pressure and raids from the coast and interior grew resulted in Namal migrations southwards into Amim lands from the 5th century to the 10th century. As a result, nearly everything north of the Anmara Mountains and the mouth of the Hanjuku River [1] became territory of the Namals. South of this area to about the 45th parallel north lay an area of mixed villages and communities and south of that lay almost exclusively Amims.

This Namal migration into the Irame Valley changed Amim culture immensely. The Amims adopted many of the ways and lifestyle of the Namals. Intensive intermarriage between the two groups and even more intensive slave-raiding on both sides resulted in great cultural exchange. Amim nobility became replaced by Namal nobility through conflict who gradually assimilated into their new communities and those remaining Amim nobles intensely emulated their Namal influencers. Their culture became much more similar to a typical culture of North Fusania, with farming, earthworks, hierarchial societies, strong leaders, potlatching, and numerous other shared traditions. Village sizes increased and true towns and cities appeared. The Amim language itself became changed, incorporating a vast deal of Namal loanwords, calques (in particular those related to agriculture, pastoralism, warfare, hierarchy, class and government), and grammar patterns. Historian Gaiyuchul of Katlamat writes of the early Amim:

"In deepest antiquity the Amim must have been barbarians for their own legends claim they drank the blood of both animals and men after having declined from a civilised and noble people. For forgetting the laws of nature, their sun god Ayutlmeyi strengthened the spirit of the Namals so they might stand against them, take their land, and reduce them to a state of slavery as punishment for the crimes of their people but in his mercy refused to destroy them as had been in the four ages before the current age of the world. Yet after the Namals soaked the land with so much Amim blood and drove the Amim from their homes, they begged their sun god for the power to fight back and promised to follow the laws of nature. Ayutlmeyi replied to the people through a great and powerful shaman:

'Power I will give, yet understanding of this power I cannot grant. You may learn from the Namals, yet take heed of what you learn. For if you follow too closely the ways of the Namals then the entire earth will turn to black.' [2] The people did not understand his words at the time and followed the ways of the Namals. To this very day the Amim still debate the meaning of Ayutlmeyi's warning. Although they live so much like the Namals they hold a certain fear that one day they will find out just exactly what the prophecy means. Often these fears arise quickly and dissipate just as fast when whirlwinds, ash falls, and great tremors ravage the land."

Even with this loss of territory, the Amim remained the most numerous ethnic group in all of Fusania north of the Central Valley of South Fusania--perhaps 10% or more of the total population at any given time. With the exception of a few groups of Amim on the northwestern fringe of the Irame Valley centered around the lakeside city of Chachif [3], the Amim spoke dialects of a single language that formed a dialect continuum stretching across the valley making this language among the most spoken in all Fusania. The rich soils of their land, good fishing waters, bountiful habitat for grazing animals, and ample rainfall ensured that supporting this large population could be done seemingly effortlessly.

This amount of people in one area also meant the Amim became frequent targets for neighbouring raiders. The Amorera in the Grey Mountains, the Dena in the coastal mountains, the Atkhs on the seacoast, the Tanne in the mountains to the south, and above all, the Namals to their north all frequently raided the Amim for wealth and especially slaves. Perhaps no North Fusanian people suffered as greatly from slave raiding as the Amims. Nearly every society in North Fusania owned a sizable quantity of Amim slaves. The Amim language contributed greatly to numerous creoles and pidgins (including Trade Wakashan and the Imaru Trade Language) and also to typical speech.

Amim society held a fatalistic view toward slave raids as a fact of life, the fate of those who broke society's law or those with weak spirits. They secluded and protected their women, yet also encouraged women to learn skill at knives and with poisons so they might strike back against their enemies. They built tall watchtowers to search for enemy war parties and developed courier systems to readily raise a large force of warriors to counter them. While the Amim did not build as many or as complex defensive networks as the Whulchomic peoples did, the Amim still constructed many defensive palisades, moats, and secret paths across marshy fields to protect themselves from enemies.

Never a united people, many groups of Amims took advantage of this frequent conflict to strengthen their own position. They made alliances with Namal towns and even invited the losers of conflicts between Namal towns to live with them. These Namals intermarried and assimilated into Amim society and with them brought new contacts for trade and relations which gave the Amims powerful allies which helped stem the tide of Namal settlement in their lands. Further, the rise of Katlaqmap--called Waqanashis by the Amim--at the head of the Irame River and its wars against Namal cities to the south sent many more dispossessed nobles and others into the Irame Valley. While some joined with other Namal towns, many went to the Amim and over the years gave them a burning hatred of the Namals of Katlaqmap and those who might ally with them.

Amim states coalesced around charismatic nobles be they Amims, Namals, or other groups, with the lesser rulers titled ashambak and the greater rulers titled atlanakh. A leader gained a following by having both strong guardian spirit power and wealth in reindeer, shells, and other goods. They became a hereditary class of rulers who sat at the head of councils of nobles and powerful shamans.

The Amims held a strong sun cult, worshipping their solar deity Ayutlmeyi. Ayutlmeyi's value to humans came from his rays which held the power of every guardian spirit--for this reason, the spirit power itself was known as ayutlmeyi. By fostering these spirits and observing correct rituals, Ayutlmeyi might continue to bestow his spiritual gifts upon the world. The strongest shamans were those blessed by Ayutlmeyi himself in the form of the sun--these shamans dominated spiritual affairs and played a powerful role in secular society as well. As typical in Fusania, worship of Ayutlmeyi occurred at shrines on sacred mountains, hills, or groves.

Ayutlmeyi's worship often occurred alongside fire worship, as fire was considered a sacred force granted by the sun. Travelers often noted smoke from distant flames on the hills and mountains in the Irame Valley from the perpetually-burning ceremonial flames. Amims danced themselves into a frenzy around sacred flames, often burning themselves with torches--an act which gave them no pain as they believed their guardian spirit power protected them from the physical harm. The greatest ritual was the ritual burning of the land, held once every year or so. Here, the Amim set fire to the countryside under supervision of a shaman to clear out brush. The fires smoked out all sorts of animals which the people hunted down while clearing and fertilising the land for better farming and prevention of wildfires. [4]

Other peoples feared the Amims for their powerful shamans. An Amim shaman, if strong enough, might strip a person of their guardian spirit power which left them weak and vulnerable, an ability unknown among many other people of the Imaru. Amim shamans sat on noble councils and the commoners believed them to be a check on the nobility--if a nobleman was corrupt and self-interested, a shaman might remove them through spiritual assassination. While shamans played a role in many daily activities, especially agriculture and construction of improvements like earthworks, throughout Fusania, the Amims brought it to new levels as they demanded their shamans be present during planting and harvesting, construction of all earthworks, and shamans even spending days of meditation and prayer to call beneficial spirits to nourish the plants, bring rain and sun, and other such features.

The Amims likewise were feared for their spiritually powerful weapons. While the Amims in the 12th century and earlier battled with clubs and obsidian-tipped spears and arrows with some copper/arsenical bronze knives, spears, and axes for their elite, the Amim shamanry knew of a great many poisons spiritual and physical. Amims often brought dogs, rabbits, or other small animals with them as they fought and stabbed them in front of the enemy to prove the power of their weapons, both sides watching the animal writhe in agony as it died. Few non-Amims dared to plunder their weapons, typically burning or burying them. Enough copper and bronze items were buried in this fashion that at one time archaeologists assumed the Amim of the 9th-12th centuries were at the forefront of Fusanian metallurgy and used metal weapons far more than other Fusanians.

Like South Fusanians and a few other Fusanian people, the Amim believed they lived in the Fifth Age of the world with four worlds before them [5]. In the First Age, the people and world were so perfect the gods became jealous and the people were transfigured into stars. The gods made the world harsh in the Second Age, but the disease, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, and storms were so harsh life was miserable, and the gods in their pity transfigured the people into stones, with their nobles becoming the great boulders littering the valley. In the Third Age, the gods tried to find a balance, but the people grew wicked and the gods turned their back as they allowed the world to flood. A great shaman named Amhulukw transfigured himself and the people into the creatures of the sea who ruled this flooded world, swearing revenge on the land and the other gods. Ayutlmeyi stole the sea to weaken him and his followers but recreated the world anyway with barely any water so to keep the people under control.

In the Fourth Age, Raven taught the people to hunt and gather plants, but a brilliant youth, a prodigy of Raven demanded the return of the sea to strengthen the people. Raven taught him all he knew, saying the world he knew would end if he returned the waters to mankind. The youth accepted and traveled to the moon and sun on Raven's back in search of water. The youth used trickery gained from Raven to steal the water from Ayutlmeyi, releasing all the fish, sea animals, and sea spirits into the world including Amhulukw and his minions the atunqai, but Ayutlmeyi caught him after the deed was done. He transfigured the youth into the spirit of the Irame River itself and demanded he watch as the world flooded again and everything he knew perish, yet took pity and recreated the world, the world of the Fifth Age as the Amim knew it.

Amhulukw was a powerful god to the Amim, controlling the rivers and lakes of the Irame Basin and their supply of food and granting spirit powers to certain powerful shamans. If people did not appease his atunqai minions and the spirits of fish and water animals they ruled, Amhulukw withheld their blessings and the people starved. If enraged, Amhulukw sent floods to punish the people. He was jealous of people who gained sustinence outside of his rivers and sent curses to them and even cursed mountains, lakes, and rivers. Only a shaman might grant an Amim power to leave the Irame Basin, and very few, if any, shamans might protect against the curses set upon certain mountain passes, bodies of water, and other areas between the coast or Plateau and the Irame Valley. The Kobahan Mountains on the west-central edge of the Irame Valley held many places like this, although only a few areas held curses truly insurmountable to shamans. In general, the Amim refused to leave the Irame Basin in older times, and Amim slaves brought outside there often developed illnesses which Namal and other shamans typically needed to treat. [6]

All of this led to a traditional defensive mentality on the part of the Amims, a mindset which would not be broken for centuries. To an Amim commoner, their world was their village and the immediate land around it, led by an ashambak, or headman. Neighbouring villages they knew for their kin lay there, as they usually married into these villages. A larger town held the local atlanakh, the prince of their people, the title a borrowing from Namal. More distant towns held other atlanakhs, who may be hostile or friendly--the average Amim rarely ventured into these lands and often not without an entourage of warriors. Beyond the Irame Valley lay lands of dangerous peoples and spirits who with shamanic blessing and powerful guardian spirits might be coaxed into giving up great trade goods. Yet even the Amim merchants who visited these lands tended to be stingy--they needed to save resources to strengthen their home village or town.

The Amim lived on or near the important Black Road, one of two major pathways to Pasnomsono in South Fusania and its wealth in precious metals, finished goods, spices, slaves, and other products. While few traversed the road in its entirety in this period, the trading network along this road transported great wealth along it which enriched its natives. The Amim forced outsiders to pay tolls in their land, tolls which might be waved for relatives or other friends of the Amim. This gave a great incentive for Namals, Dena, and Atkhs to marry into Amim clans bringing with them wealth and potential allies--it also contributed to the increasing Namalisation of Amim society. Foreign merchants carried most of the trade in this area, as even Amim merchants rarely left their immediate area.

Unlike many of their neighbours, the Amims buried their dead and held no tradition of canoe or box burials. They raised burial mounds, some quite large, over the tombs of leaders, their families, and their possessions akin to those found in Eastern North America. On top of these mounds they erected carved effigies of wood and stone of symbolic meaning. Totem poles occasionally marked the burial mounds of particularly wealthy individuals, these posts telling of their life. Specially tended trees grew around these mounds. The largest of these mound sites occurred near Chapunmefu one of the most prominent early Amim city-states, with twenty mounds outside the city hosting burials of its leaders. The very name of the city had been changed in early times to its current name meaning "where hills are made". [7] These mounds were typically worked on over decades or even centuries and arranged geometrically. In the center of these mounds lay Great Chapunmefu Mound stands as the largest mound west of the Plains. Constructed from 950 to 1140, the mound stood at about 24 meters and was about 150 meters on either side at the base and entombed many kin of the Atlanakh of Chapunmefu before it partially collapsed in a major earthquake in 1700. Nearly every Amim village held at least one burial mound, and any town of note held multiple.

These mounds often held vast quantities of expensive goods and occasional slave sacrifices (often by burying the slave alive). Like the box and canoe graves of other Fusanian societies, the Amim believed this kept the deceased away from the community (until their reincarnation) by giving them objects they knew in life so they might not disturb the living or worse, persuade them to follow them to the afterlife. Amim mounds were occasionally plundered by outside raiders so villages and other communities often placed watchtowers near these mounds to search for invaders. The Amims themselves treated the mounds with great respect and never visited them except under the supervision of shamans.

A number of polities sprang up along the Irame and its tributaries, operating as leagues of mutual self-defense and organisation. The most important centers, based on their economic, military, or spiritual might, ended up dominating the others as urbanisation increased. Amims traditionally held that in this era there existed twenty city states, but in all likelihood the number of independent polities was much higher. Several lists dating from the 15th century exist, but Gaiyuchul of Katlamat and many historians since questioned the veracity of these lists. By the end of the 11th century, nearly ever major tributary of the Irame fell under the sway of a single city-state.

Due to the kin networks between Amim villages, atlanakhs needed to tread lightly while distributing and collecting tribute, lest they infringe on the privileges claimed by other atlanakhs. War often ensued over offenses like these which claimed the lives and limbs of many promising fighters. These wars were strictly ceremonial, unlike the wars against the Namals and other raiders. Groups of warriors agreed to meet at neutral ground, supervised by priests and shamans, and at this place they fought until one side retreated or was annihilated to the man. After the battle, rulers rarely chose to continue the war, although further hostilities might result in years after.

The most powerful Amim city-state from the 9th to 12th century was without a doubt Chapunmefu. Located on the Ayamara River and reasonably sheltered from the worst raids by the Namals, Chapunmefu took in fleeing nobles and peasants alike who supplied the city with ample warriors and workers for the field. Hills and mountains nearby gave ample ground for reindeer pastures and areas for gathering useful plants, and Chapunmefu fought hard against nearby towns to ensure it got the better of the rights to that land. The Coast Mountains Dena gave Chapunmefu little trouble as Chapunmefu thoroughly crushed them in several campaigns in the 11th century. With a population of about 2,500 in the city alone, it was the largest city in the Irame Valley alongside its rival, Chantatawa far to the south. Although rarely itself attacked by the Namals, Chapunmefu often sent warriors to aid nearby cities against this threat. Chapunmefu surrounded itself with high palisades of earth and wood and in the early 12th century even constructed the first stone wall in the Irame Valley. Near the city itself lay the Great Chapunmefu Mound, the largest mound west of the American Divides, where the atlanakhs of the city lay buried alongside vast amounts of wealth.

Chantatawa took prominence early on as one of the most powerful city-states alongside Chapunmefu, after a legendary war around 1020 where its ruler sacked the nearest rival Chemank'lakwa with the help of the Coast Mountains Dena and destroyed it as a competitor [8]. With their location on the Irame River, their substantial amount of good land, and access to trade routes to the coast, Chantatawa greatly prospered and was able to bully weaker city-states using both economic and military muscle. Perhaps the second largest city in the valley after Chapunmefu, the rulers of Chantatawa entombed themselves and kin inside impressive mortuary complexes. While the Great Chantatawa Mound stood only about half the size of its competitor at Chapunmefu, the number of mounds at Chantatawa was somewhat higher. In general the Amims under influence from Chantatawa along the Anbineifu, Rakkamayu and Lower Anbaru Rivers [9] constructed more mounds than Amims elsewhere, perhaps because of the more peaceful situation in their region of the valley.

The city-state of Milpu at the southern end of the valley held particular note thanks to the Amim taboo against leaving the Irame Valley. They were closely allied to the Ach'gampdu city-state of Yankalat immediately across the mountain pass to the south and also allied with the Dena of the area [10]. Here, Dena traders bought goods from Amim merchants who refused to go much further past Milpu and carried it to Yankalat and further south on the Black Road. The friendly relations with the Dena also allowed Milpu to both exploit the mountains for their great quantities of precious obsidian and exploit the passes over the Grey Mountains and as a result it was among the most used crossings of the Grey Mountains south of the Imaru, bringing wealth from the east into the city and from there over the mountains and down the Inakkai River to Hitsihis, a major Atkh city on the coast which rarely raided Milpu but instead its enemies out of desire to keep trading relations good. [11]

Other city-states held great power militarily rather than economically. Chateshtan in the north of the Irame Valley faced constant attacks from the Namals yet the skill of its rulers in battle as well as their spiritual prowess drew prestige to the city and thus a constant supply of tribute. Many refugees from K'ashaksh settled in the surrounding area after its sack in 1049, assimilating to local culture and bringing a powerful warrior culture along with a burning hatred for Katlaqmap. At the Siege of Chimapuichuk in 1083, the Atlanakh of Chateshtan led his forces to victory against considerable odds, expelling the Namals from the city and restoring its exiled ruler to power, a decisive battle which marked the decline of Namal power in the valley. With Chimapuichuk effectively a vassal of Chateshtan, Chateshtan formed a powerful bulwark against Namal expansion south. [12]

Chamikiti [13] faced similar challenges yet overcame them through both success in battle and the ability to pick good regional allies. Often allied with Katlaqmap or even with Tlawiwala, Chamikiti opportunistically sought to dominate the villages in the hills of the Upper Hanjuku. They protected the villages from Namal and Dena raids in exchange for tribute from the ashambaks there and used Katlaqmap and Tlawiwala's influence to further keep away enemies. For this, other Amim cities like Chanhalpam [14], and especially Chamikiti's most bitter rival Chapunmefu detested Chamikiti and used any pretext to clash with them. They often allowed Namals to travel through their lands to raid Chamikiti and allied villages. A particularly successful raid in 1108 caused numerous villages to quit Chamikiti's alliance. In the ensuing war, Chamikiti lost several times in the ritual combats and forced a re-evaluation of Chamikiti's stance toward Katlaqmap. Now opposed to Katlaqmap, Chamikiti used a combination of diplomatic charm, personal support, and a series of victories in ritual battles to reclaim much of what it lost during the 1110s.

During the 12th century, Amim lands were largely peaceful as former Namal enemies turned their attentions toward each other or toward their own external enemies. Namal city-states in the Irame Valley used this time to rebuild from the wars against Katlaqmap in the previous years. The main external threat came from the Atkh city-states on the coast, such as Hitsihis and K'ak'aakhtis [15], whose power grew immensely thanks to the wars of Kawadinak occurring on Wakashi Island. Full of displaced veteran warriors looking to re-establish themselves, they raided the Coast Mountains Dena for livestock, women, and slaves, and in turn these Dena often attacked Amim villages to recover animals. Yet these raids paled in comparison to those of the Namals in years prior, as many Dena tribes avoided making new enemies and instead focused on the Coastmen.

All might've been well had the ambition of man not arisen in the rulers of some Amim city-states. At Chapunmefu and especially Chantatawa and Chachinchel [16], the rulers noticed the weak position of the Coast Mountains Dena in their conflicts with the Atkhs. During the 1110s onward, they pushed aggressively against the Dena themselves in pursuit of livestock, slaves, and land for hunting and gathering. In some areas the Dena were practically annihilated while in many others they were reduced to a pitiable state of poverty. Yet in many places the Dena held on, in large part thanks to the general Amim taboo on crossing the mountains and leaving the Irame Valley. The Amim hired Namal and especially Coastmen mercenaries to assist them in these goals, yet this accelerated the coming problem. As the Dena weakened, the Atkhs noticed how much the Amim gained from these wars. Having treated the Atkhs at defacto (and occasionally actual) allies for years, the Amim cities only distantly imagined that the same force which helped them destroy the Dena might be unleashed against them in a way even worse than the most withering Namal raid.

Ach'gampdu

South of the Amim in the north-central parts of the Kanawachi Valley immediately south of the Irame Basin lived the Ach'gampdu, their ethnonym meaning "the people of omodaka", but also commonly called the Kimamduksh [17] after their Namal and Imaru Trade Language exonym. It was a meaningful name, as they were the first group in the Kanawachi to cultivate this plant, as they had been the first to cultivate the less domesticated relatives of the omodaka. The Ach'gampdu resembled their Amim neighbours culturally, linguistically, and societally, but the migrations of the Dena led to contact between the groups becoming sporadic, and the Namal migrations into the Irame Valley changed the Amim to become a distinct people. In time influences of the cultures of the Imaru penetrated to Ach'gampdu lands, but the Ach'gampdu interpreted it differently than the Amim north of them and thus arose the modern Ach'gampdu culture.

The Ach'gampdu carried themselves as the "true Amim". They believed the people of the Irame Valley had become tainted by the Namals and other foreign influences, and the "true" people fled to the lands immediately south to their own ancestors to carry out their ways. Although the Ach'gampdu raised earthworks, built broad burial mounds, farmed omodaka, camas, and other crops, and served powerful rulers and councils of nobles and shamans like the Amim, they emphasised their distinctions and tended to ignore the Irame Valley but for the southernmost towns of it such as Milpu, an important trading partner.

Surrounded by the Dena and their Tanne cousins in the mountains north, west, and east of the Kanawachi and occasionally faced with Nama or Maguraku raids from across the eastern passes and Wakashan raids from the west, the Ach'gampdu similarly developed a defensive mentality. But unlike the Amims, the Ach'gampdu much more freely left their land, and often did as they believed the best defense was a good offense. The Ach'gampdu likened their enemies to bears and wolves--dangerous to those weak in spirit and unfamiliar of their ways, but to those knowledgeable, perfect game for hunting. Gaiyuchul of Katlamat wrote in his Saga of the Peoples of the World:

"The commonfolk often speak of the Dena and their kin the Tanne as cruel and unfriendly to all civilised peoples of the world, a menace on their fields and herds and children little different than others speak of a disease or a natural disaster. Yet for the Kimamduksh these two groups are treated as good friends, and the Dena and Tanne of the area reciprocate these feelings. The Kimamduksh claim that centuries ago the Dena and Tanne raided their land with impunity until a young yet powerful shaman was told by his guardian spirit power, a bear, that they were no different than him. Like all bears, they might be killed through much the same method. The Kimamduksh warriors used this knowledge well and nearly destroyed both groups of people.

By the time this shaman died, not a single reindeer or goat might be found among the local Dena or Tanne and nearly every Kimamduksh family owned a Dena or Tanne slave. Women of those people populated the harems of the wealthy. The few survivors of the Dena and Tanne nearly chose to flee far away before the son of this shaman in all his magnanimity led the offering of peace treaties to every tribe in the mountains. From that day forth the Kimamduksh and the Hillmen of the mountains lived in peace with only the most barbaric rulers choosing to reawaken this old feud."

While elements of this story as recorded by Gaiyuchul may be fanciful, it is certainly true the Ach'gampdu considered the Dena and Tanne Hillmen as close allies. Livestock theft on a large scale can also be confirmed thanks to the genetics of Ach'gampdu reindeer and goats which hold more similarities to those of the Dena or Tanne than those of other groups. Yet more than anything, mutual self-interest likely cemented this alliance more than continual Ach'gampdu success. The Ach'gampdu competed greatly with the Valley Tanne, offshoots of the Tanne, who likewise held an ancient enmity with the Hill Tanne and served as good raiding targets for both them and the Dena. Further, the Hill Tanne and Dena patrolled the mountain passes and often blocked raiding parties of groups from beyond the mountains.

The main cultural centers of the Ach'gampdu lay in the valleys situated between the Gantsugamitsu and Gagonbitsu Rivers, two important tributaries of the Kanawachi. They rarely ventured into the Coast Mountains or the Grey Mountains, the former for fear of the Atkhs based at the coastal city-state of Ch'aninit, the latter for lack of need as the Hill Tanne gave them what they need. [18] The small valleys of their country separated by rough forested mountains and hills created a natural unity of these city states over their valley and the surrounding hills whil. In total, almost 2,500 square kilometers of land fell under the control of these Ach'gampdu city-states.

The Ach'gampdu relied heavily on their role as middlemen in the Black Road, one of the two great trade routes (along with the White Road east of the Grey Mountains) leading to South Fusania [19]. The Black Road crossed right through the mountain passes at the southern Irame and into the northern Kanawachi Valley. Along it lay three out of the four city-states of the Ach'gampdu, and with it came a great wealth from both the north and south in the form of acorns, spices, shells, jade, cinnabar, metals, slaves, and finished goods from fine cloth and blankets to sturdy Pasnomsono bronze.

The most powerful city-state was Yankalat in the northern portion of Ach'gampdu lands. Located nearest the passes over the mountains and into the Irame Valley, much trade flowed through Yankalat ensuring prosperity for its rulers. Further, a good distance separated Yankalat from its competitors which allowed Yankalat to secure rule over the nearby hills and mountains for additional areas of hunting, gathering, and pastoralism. This wealth and security allowed Yankalat's rulers to construct the largest burial mound (one of fifteen mounds) south of the Irame Valley, at around 90 meters on either side and 12 meters high.

Three other prominent city-states existed. At the confluence of the Kanawachi with the Gagonbitsu River lay Chapalmanchal which took advantage of the flat lands and links downstream with the Valley Tanne. Downstream at the mouth of the Gantsugamitsu River lay Changantqabit, situated in the last sizable valleys downstream on the Kanawachi well off the Black Road [20]. This city-state was particularly defensive thanks to the threat of Atkh raiders, but just as often peacefully traded downstream with Ch'aninit via Hill Tanne middlemen which enabled it to be nearly as wealthy as the other three cities. The wealthy city state of Changamafa lay along the Gagonbitsu River [21]. This city-state controlled the most valleys and a sizable network of villages, but much of its potential was sapped thanks to the constant wars with the Valley Tanne city-states to the south over access to certain hills. However, this made the city a potent military power, and warriors from the city and its subordinate villages often joined mercenary bands.

These four city-states form roughly a rectangle, an observation not lost on the Ach'gampdu. They believed a fifth city-state located in exactly the center of their country existed in a previous age of the world after the Great Flood and ruled the entirety of their country under rulers of great spiritual power. Yet it's rulers grew so greedy that they demanded more and more, so Ayutlmeyi took away the sun and moon. The rulers, the nobles, and common people pleaded for help, so Raven came and told the nobles to gather together in the town center so he might find the one most suitable for negotiating with Ayutlmeyi. Unfortunately, it was a trap, and Raven transformed them into a mountain covered in trees, the ruler himself becoming a tree so high it reached into the heavens. There, a brilliant youth ascended the peak and climbed the tree and with Raven's help stole back the sun and moon.

The youth failed Ayutlmeyi's spiritual test by stealing from him, causing the sun god to find humanity rotten to the core with greed. Raven taught the youth how to speak cleverly and charismatically, so the youth persuaded Ayutlmeyi to spare his life. Ayutlmeyi instead forced him to watch as he ordered the spirits of the world to cause great earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions to once again destroy the world. The youth spent the rest of his life trying to persuade Ayutlmeyi to restore the world to no avail. Yet after he died, Ayutlmeyi took pity on him and restored the spirits of the world and thus recreated it anew, including with a new humanity. His body was sent back as well and transfigured into the mountain he had once climbed to reach the heavens, although in this era it was a low and humble peak to remind people of humility.

What this legend is based on remains unclear--the country at the center of Ach'gampdu lands is too rugged and remote to support anything more than small villages. It may be a memory of ancient conflicts caused by harsh rulers, especially during the early period of state society in Ach'gampdu lands during the wars with the Hill Tanne. Yet above all, it was both a morality tale and a tale of origins integral to Ach'gampdu worldview and society. It taught the obligations of the ruling class needed, it taught how the ideal person should act and aspire to, and it gave the Ach'gampdu a place in the uncertain world. On this holy mountain the Ach'gampdu maintained numerous sacred groves and communed with spirits amidst the rocks, cliffs, and trees. A few villages ringed the mountain yet the mountain itself was forbidden to all but the spiritually powerful. Only a few shamans and medicine men lived in these villages, accepting gifts from visitors and offering their own wisdom and mentorship in return. The villages themselves paid no tribute to any Ach'gampdu city--to even begin to consider they might was unthinkable in their worldview. The Atks, Hill Tanne, and others respected this neutrality, either avoiding the place out of fear of its powerful shamans or partaking in their own spiritual training there.

The four Ach'gampdu cities held more or less good relations with each other. They considered themselves four phratries of the Ach'gampdu people, with those of Changantqabit and Yankalat represeting one moiety and Chapalmanchal and Changamafa representing the other moiety, and alongside it all the typical imagery and attributes (directions, animals, colours, etc.) associated with such concepts. Societally the moeities were expected to marry each other, although this was often ignored for the poor (as travel and the bride price often proved too expensive) provided they married outside their village. They kept conflicts between each other strictly ceremonial, with disputes over land and trade taking place as pitched battles following a particular and formal script supervised by spiritually powerful people until the second the warriors were set loose. After the battle ended, the loser almost always gracefully accepted the results, believing it to be spiritually pre-ordained, and relations quickly improved.

By the 12th century, increasing population growth in their own lands and those of the enemy Valley Tanne caused ever closer links between Chapalmanchal and Changamafa as the cities ignored their past history of conflicts to face a greater foe. Similarly, the warfare in the north and increasing development of the White Road in the east came to affect Ach'gampdu lands as trade on the Black Road declined. The Ach'gampdu were keenly aware wealth was not increasing with the continually population growth and counteracted this through increased cooperation in their own land and an even more solid front against outsiders with even Yankalat contributing more warriors and wealth than ever before. Intermarriage between the four cities, their subject villages, and the Hill Tanne to their east increased. With their mentality always defensive and isolationist, adversity was uniting the Ach'gampdu.

Valley Tanne

The border between civilised and uncivilised was far thinner than the people of the Imaru Basin and the Furuge regarded it. If a group practiced the appropriate rites and lifestyle and held good enough relations with the majority of the peoples of the Imaru, and if that group held enough economic importance, than circumstance might call them civilised. Like the Yilhqanin Dena far to their northwest, the Valley Tanne were one of those few Dena groups regarded as civilised, in contrasted to their closest linguistic kin the Hill Tanne and Coast Tanne, called barbaric Hillmen, or superficially similar people among the Wakashans.

Valley Tanne history arises in the Dena Migrations, where several groups of Dena at the forefront pushed down the coast and into the coastal hills and mountains. There they became linguistically distinct from the northern Dena and adopted the lifestyles of the peoples around them, becoming the Tanne [22]. By the early 5th century the Tanne partially rejoined with the Dena and adopted their horticultural pastoralism and reindeer herding but kept their distinctions. They traded and occasionally raided nearby people for food and slaves and like the Dena patrolled the mountain passes to become skilled traders. The acquisition of wealth in the form of rare goods and livestock remained central to their society as it had in earlier years.

Several different groups lived in the basin of the Kanawachi and Yanshuuji before the arrival of the Valley Tanne, such as the Ach'gampdu, the Ancestral K'ahusani because their migration to South Fusania, and an enigmatic group called the Nachtetanne [23] by all Tanne peoples. The Nachtetanne seem to have been an indigenous people of the region who spoke a Penutian language perhaps most related to that of the Amim and Ach'gampdu. Culturally they shared similar traits, hunting, collecting, and fishing along the rivers and slowly adapting to the horticulturalism coming in from the north, the first in the area. Yet the Tanne advantage in pastoralism and warfare drove the Nachtetanne out of much of their land and resulted in their enslavement. The Tanne eagerly plundered them of their wealth when they could.

Around the 8th century, a few groups of Tanne began to permanently settle in the Kanawachi and Yanshuuji, merging with the embattled Nachtetanne and other groups to become the Valley Tanne. These people gave them many elements of their culture, from their religious outlook, their agricultural lifestyle, their political organisation, and even their language. By the 11th century, the Hill Tanne and Coast Tanne regarded the Valley Tanne totally alien, despite a somewhat mutually intelligible language. Historian Gaiyuchul of Katlamat writes of this in Saga of the Peoples of the World:

"The Tanne of the hills and mountains detest few more than the Tanne of the valley, for these Tanne who live in the valley of the Kanawachi and Yanshuuji have shunned their ancestral barbarism and adopted the rites and rituals of civilised peoples. The civilised Tanne of the valley inherited their wisdom from people called the Nachtetanne who formerly lived there whom they conquered. They claim that the trickster Coyote appeared to their ancestor later called Mabet'ine and his two brothers and told them he might make them whatever they wished. Mabet'ine wished to be a great and wise warrior whose vast armies might take all the wealth they wished. Yet a powerful priest warned his brothers of Coyote's tricks and they refused Coyote's offers. His brothers tried to stop him and persuade him to give back Coyote's gifts. But he ignored his kin and led his followers to conquer all the valleys before them. So much wealth they gained in this that many followers broke ranks with his brothers and joined him. Even their fathers-in-law joined him, taking with them the wives of their brothers who married this conquerer instead. He gained great wisdom in the land of the Nachtetanne as he ruled generously, listening to people poor and rich alike. He raised his sons and daughters among the Nachtetanne so they too might understand this wisdom. He most especially heeded the advice of the shamans of the Nachtetanne so he might spiritually understand the land he ruled.

Many years later the three brothers met again at the request of Coyote. 'Behold!' Coyote said, 'I have made your brother wealthy, powerful, and wise beyond that of any other man!' Yet they failed to recognise him, for he wore finery like that they had never seen, he spoke their tongue with a strange accent, and he indulged in strange habits. 'We do not know this man.' his brothers said. 'We warned him not to leave yet he insisted so he must have died long ago.'"

This origin myth held great value to the Valley Tanne, for it explained and emphasised their distinction from the Hill Tanne and Coast Tanne despite superficial similarities between them. The wealth gained by Mabet'ine symbolically represents the Valley Tanne integration into the growing regional trade networks centered around river valley farmers. The rapid increase of wealth and increased contact with groups like the Ach'gampdu, Amims, and distant Namals seems to have provoked a sort of cultural admiration and Namalisation of their society, a phenomena akin to the "Misebianisation" and emulation of prominent centers like Mihithega found in Eastern North America.

In many ways the Valley Tanne were transitional from the Amims and Imaru Basin cultures to those of South Fusania, particularly in terms of religion. They believed only shamans and priests possessed guardian spirit power, and like many South Fusanians, believed the spirit had been "shot into" them like an arrow, and they could use these gifts to cause or cure illness, influence nature, and many other effects. Unlike many North Fusanians, their shamans (but not priests) were almost all women, with men called to become shamans taking on the role of women. They placed their dead in decorated and well-filled boxes placed in oak trees, but after a time buried them in the ground with an offering of acorns. Few amongst the North Fusanians relied on acorns as much as the Valley Tanne (aside from the culturally similar Amims and Ach'gampdu), and the Valley Tanne took up the South Fusanian oak cultivation rituals generations earlier than other North Fusanians.

Much as the other Tanne (albeit with distinctions), the story of the god Kwananesha and his brother lay at the heart of their society. He created all the animals and spirits in the world who in turn taught him great knowledge, such as how to call the sun from its hiding place. After his brother created snakes from his hair, he transfigured the primordial snakes of the world into the world serpent that binds the world together. Although the balance was perfect, Kwananesha grew tired at needing to restore the balance his younger brother kept trying to disturb. One day, he met a beautiful woman, the Earth Mother, who sprang from the primordial ash tree of the south, and wished to marry her and have her become the ancestor of humanity. Yet his brother stole her from him and became the father of humanity instead. Infuriated yet unwilling to abandon humanity, Kwananesha left the world to his trickster brother to assume the power of the sun itself, reshaping the heavens so nothing might enter without his permission. The world itself fell off balance and humanity caught in a cycle of chaos, their spirits being sent from the Earth Mother to inhabit newborns, living their lives in an uncertain world, and then dying without the joy of immortality, their spirit returning to the Earth Mother.

The Valley Tanne practiced a variant of the World Renewal faith like the other Tanne, yet their variant held marked differences in practice and theology, especially in the dualism common in North Fusania. They believed in the importance of practicing the appropriate rites, rituals, and sacrifices, both communal and personal, to balance the world in place of Kwananesha. This balance allowed their priests to manipulate the world itself by using arcane charms and formulas and proper ritual. The dances, fasts, and other ceremonies such as those of the First Acorn and First Salmon kept the balance while also allowing the ideal men--wealthy, hard-working, and modest--to show off their wealth. They carried out worship on top of the highest mountains to be closer to the sun, so they might reflect on what their ancestors lost. Over a long enough period of time, a virtuous society strong in spirit and proper rites would establish enough balance and Kwananesha be persuaded to return from the sun to re-establish the true balance and complete his creation as he always intended to. He would destroy the current humanity and marry the Earth Mother and their souls would incarnate into their children, the new humanity. All the while, his younger brother would be so impressed at this new creation he would apologise for his deeds and live in perfect harmony with his older brother.

The priests supervised rituals such as the First Salmon Ceremony and knew many arcane formulas and rituals, some of which granted them power of nature, power that may be used to bless their people or curse their enemy. The priesthood was an inherited position, and the formulas considered inherited property, although for a great fee the priests might teach them to promising outsiders. Sometimes these outsiders lacked wealth and spent the rest of their lives in debt to a priestly family as effective slaves--these priests blamed their failure to acquire wealth on spiritual curses set by hostile shamans or priests.

Two great divisions of the Valley Tanne existed based on the river basins they lived in--the Kanawachi Tanne, or Ankwatanne, and the Yanshuuji Tanne, or Tutukwotmetanne. They found it difficult to speak to each other with their linguistic differences, but culturally were very similar. On nearly every side they were surrounded by Hill Tanne and also the Ach'gampdu, ancient rivals whom the Ankwatanne partially absorbed. Of the two groups, the Ankwatanne held more land and relied more on farming and especially pastoralism while the Tutukwotmetanne diversified more economically, with an economy more heavily based on mining, trade, and craftsmanship.

The Valley Tanne lay in a key position along the trade routes to the south allowing them to acquire great wealth. The pursuit of wealth held crucial importance in society, as the Valley Tanne believed that the rich held a spiritual purity to them, as the impure could never become wealthy. Thus, wealth and nobility was practically synonymous--unlike elsewhere, poor nobles lacking inherited positions lost their status as nobles after a generation or two, while wealthy commoners became elevated to the nobility. Custom required nobles to host potlatches (distinct from religion unlike amongst the Hill Tanne), secular feasts, and especially religious ceremonies, and to do this required great amounts of wealth to prepare the event, attract guests, and to leave the guests satisfied afterwards. The more events one hosted, the higher the prestige and greater the blessings, for the Valley Tanne considered the physical wealth one gained proof of spiritual blessings.

With their strong tradition as merchants and middlemen and their constant desire for wealth, the Valley Tanne gained a reputation for greed. They haggled over the smallest things to gain a price advantage and charged for nearly every service. The poor raised large families so that they might have more daughters to betroth to wealthier men or sons to sell as indentured servants or even slaves, but even the wealthy aimed for large families for daughters who might bring in great bride wealth payments. Customary law evolved to define a large variety of offenses, some as minor as looking to enviously at another's property or allowing one's dog to bark too often. They similarly defined laws governing contracts, torts, and other non-criminal offenses to ensure smooth functioning of society and most importantly ensure fair acquisition of wealth. In every case, the penalty was paid with a fine no matter how severe the crime, although sexual crimes and especially murder carried the stiffest penalties which in practice amounted to debt slavery. No one, not even a high priest or prince, was above the law, and many times society forced princes to pay at least token damages for their conduct.

People called kweshadnaka studied the oral law and traveled around the land and even beyond to other Tanne societies to ensure both their continuing knowledge of law and as mediators for cases. Unlike in other Tanne societies where anyone might act as a kweshadnaka in a legal case, in Valley Tanne society the role became more strictly defined as an occupation and non-trained individuals acting as one considered a sign of poverty. They acted as judges, mediating between aggrieved parties to ensure a fair outcome. Kweshadnaka also acted as mediators for important events such as diplomacy, trade deals, or even commonplace marriage contracts. Similarly, their knowledge of the law ensured any wealthy man retained one as the equivalent of a lawyer for their own dealings. "Kweshadnaka" was not a titled inherited or conferred upon, but one given based on knowledge and respect of the law. A kweshadnaka who made controversial decisions needed to have powerful protectors lest they be defacto exiled. Most kweshadnaka learned from kinsmen or occasionally paid an unrelated kweshadnaka for the privilege of learning the law. Typically, extended family groups included at least one kweshadnaka so a family often relied on their relative in their dealings.

Naturally, outsiders detested this to the point of frequently going to war with the Valley Tanne over issues of fines and unfair or extreme judgements. They placed tolls on their trails, enforcing them with bands of wandering soldiers, and fined any outsider who dared harvest their land's resources without permission, occasionally resulting in debt slavery. The Hill Tanne and Coast Tanne, who possessed similar traditions regarding wealth acquisition, often retaliated economically on Valley Tanne communities by imposing similar fines and tolls, trade wars resolved only through truces. The intricacies of Valley Tanne law kept most outside traders from visiting their land, a gap readily filled by the Valley Tanne's own merchants. His own Namal people considered greedy themselves, Gaiyuchul of Katlamat in his Saga of the Peoples of the World remarked in rather unusual bias for him of the Valley Tanne and their laws:

"Men from all over the world remark on the greed of the Namals, yet the greed of the Walamtksh [24] goes far less spoken of. Perhaps many wisely choose to avoid their land so full of maddening laws and men who track every slight against them such that they may use it not to seek justice but to seek personal gain. The Walamtksh see themselves as an industrious people whose markets brim with goods transported to them by their intrepid merchants. Others notice the mutilation of truth in this statement, for the Walamtksh devote their industrious nature to finding new ways through their legal codes to extort fees and fines from themselves and travelers alike. Full are their markets, but every ware found in those places can be considered little better than extorted from its original owner by merchants who put their industry to work in devising new ways to cheat others. One must never remark on this to a Walamtksh man, however, lest he suffer a fine for slandering the man's good name."

Relations with the Hill Tanne varied as both groups held a symbiotic relationship with each other. The Hill Tanne conducted most of the mining as well as breeding of animals (especially reindeer) and most importantly carried out much of the trade with the larger world as they controlled the passes and often held agreements that let them evade tolls and forage in Valley Tanne lands. Yet the Hill Tanne depended on the Valley Tanne to craft their ores into valuable goods and indeed for basic sustenance, as the Hill Tanne imported much of their food from the Valley Tanne. Despite this, warfare and raids remained a common fact of life--ambitious Valley Tanne rulers attempted to plunder Hill Tanne animals or even seize control of the passes for themselves, while Hill Tanne rulers raided the Valley Tanne for slaves and loot, occasionally even ruling some Valley Tanne villages and towns. Only the internal divisions in each group prevented one side from gaining the upper hand.

By the end of the 11th century, well-defined territories and city-states emerged amongst the Valley Tanne. In typical North Fusanian fashion, it was a two-tier system where headmen of lesser villages titled kheshkhaiyu answered to a few wealthier and more powerful rulers who took the title mabet'ine (literally "owner of houses") after their ancestor. The latter title seems to originate from the fact that a few families of powerful rulers who claimed descent from the legendary figure Mabet'ine all inherited the name such that it became more of a title than anything else. Only five mabet'ine ruled in all the lands of the Valley Tanne, ruling from Kw'eisedan, Kw'ahaha, and Talodan on the Yanshuuji and Hleadni and Kasikaitan on the Kanawachi. [25]

Beneath these rulers lay the typical assortment of nobles who formed the upper class, a nobility defined by birth but also wealth, as even a wealthy commoner might ascend to the ranks of the nobility should he marry well and make the right friends. Nobles sat on the councils of villages and towns who played an important role in deciding policy. Alongside them sat powerful priests who protected the people from spiritual harm be it from wandering spirits or evil shamans. Their knowledge of spiritual formulas and role in maintaining balance made them the most important figure in the local community, second to only the five mabet'ine or a particularly wealthy and respected kweshadnaka .

Ancestral legend states that in centuries prior, several more towns held rulers who claimed the title of mabet'ine. Yet these towns were nothing but pretenders to the aforementioned five Valley Tanne cities. For the crime of forging their ancestry, great harm befell the ruling families of these towns. They suffered defeat in battle, misfortune in family matters, and plagues upon their herds and populace. Some rulers claimed the title for decades, some only for a few years, but in every case their fortunes improved when they abandoned that title and paid tribute to a proper mabet'ine.

These five major Valley Tanne city-states began consolidating in the 12th century thanks to local deforestation, deteriorating economic situation, increased conflict with the Atkhs, Hill Tanne, and Maguraku, sheer human ambition. The increased ease of recruiting mercenaries from afar in this era no doubt contributed to this outgrowth in violence. In the north, Hleadni assumed greater control over the valleys of the Kanawachi and its tributaries, defeating several local Hill Tanne groups and severely reducing the amount of territory controlled by Kasikaitan. In the south, Kw'ahaha conquered Talodan in 1129 after a siege said to last through the winter, evidence of the utility of mercenaries in conducting warfare outside the traditional campaign season. Kw'eisedan pushed into the hills along the Dakube River, dispersing the Hill Tanne at the 1135 Battle of Maasrak'omdan [26]. The Mabet'ine of Kw'eisedan promoted the founding of several new settlements in this area, protecting his people as they moved into the area. In these back hills grew great amounts of sugar pine, important for both their pine nuts and especially their pine syrup, a valuable condiment and trade good.

An important cause of this sudden expansion lay in the deterioration of the political and especially economic situation elsewhere along the Black Road. The wars of the Atkh prince Kawadinak of Tinhimha far to the north at the Whulge impoverished that area while the escalation of conflicts in the Irame Valley interfered with the trade coming from the north. More critically, the White Road on the other side of the Grey Mountains grew in value and use during the 12th century thanks to the policies of the "returned" Q'mitlwaakutl of Wayam pursued with the Maguraku during his rise through the ranks of Wayamese society. Continuing to aspire higher in wealth yet unable to get it, the Valley Tanne began to increasingly fight amongst themselves and with others over what remained.

With the deterioration of order, weakening status of many nobles, and sheer violence in the region, people increasingly looked toward the kweshadnaka for protection and a more peaceful way of resolving problems than the aggressive wars of the city-states. In some villages, the kheshkhaiyu became purely ceremonial with local or even travelling kweshadnaka dominating village affairs. By doing so, this directly undermined the influence of the mabet'ine to intervene in these communities, forcing him to rely more on his own kweshadnaka to keep a level of control there. The mabet'ine became forced to spend a great portion of his wealth on recruiting the best kweshadnaka as followers lest their own interests fall to the wayside. While the kweshadnaka ensured a sense of peace and order and mitigated the most bitter conflicts, the circumstances outside the realm of the Valley Tanne remained unchanged and continued to cause great unease.
---
Author's notes

The OTL Kalapuyans did indeed build mounds (called atudship), so it was interesting to imagine how a "mound builder" society might work in this context and the impressive architecture they'd create. TTL it's one of the most distinctively "Amim" cultural elements and not one emulated elsewhere in Fusania to any real degree. If you're wondering why nearly every Amim and Ach'gampdu town starts with "Cha[n]" or similar, it's because that's how you construct placenames in that language.

Valley Tanne society has many elements of OTL Takelma (the Nachtetanne) and Pacific Athabaskans, especially the Galice, Tututni, and Tolowa (who were the easiest to find solid information about). These societies OTL had some interesting views regarding wealth and ownership and the societal status it brought and were quite skilled at trading. One source describes them as having an almost "Protestant work ethic" mentality. OTL traders noted they could be challenging to trade with for this reason. As expected from this TL, I've modified and expanded this role to match the new conditions they face TTL.

This is yet another ethnographical/historical update that gets back up to the current time (12th century) for TTL. The cultures are similar and related enough that I felt like grouping them together, although maybe for length's sake I should be splitting these up. I'll be doing maps for this part of Fusania in time, at least once I can find a good and large basemap for this region.

As always, thanks for reading.

[1] - The Anmara Mountains are the Chehalem Mountains, here a Japanese toponym borrowed from Kalapuyan mixed from the rivers they lie between, the Anbarachi (OTL's Tualatin River) and the Ayamara (OTL's Yamhill River). The Hanjuuku River is the Pudding River of Oregon, a tributary of the Willamette
[2] - Inspired by an OTL Kalapuya prophecy regarding the white man coming to their land and plowing it up, although here the circumstances are rather different
[3] - This would be the Northern Kalapuyan language, here very marginalised by Namal migrations. Chachif is on the north end of the now-dry Wapato Lake between Gaston, OR and Forest Grove, OR.
[4] - The OTL Kalapuya are known for their use of wildfire to manage the Willamette Valley. They used their burning of the land to clear brush and make gathering easier and also to drive out deer for hunting, a ceremony which held great significance to them. TTL the ceremony has changed slightly (deer are extirpated from the area and it is no longer essential for hunting) yet still holds great importance
[5] - This story here is a modification of OTL Kalapuyan beliefs regarding the past of the world
[6] - OTL Kalapuyan groups like the Tualatin, Yamhill, etc. typically avoided leaving their homelands due to human enemies and in some cases spiritual enemies (areas translated as "bad country"). I have modified this belief based on TTL's circumstances to make it even more extreme due to the aggressive slave raids this area has suffered. The Kobahan Mountains are the Northern Oregon Coast Range, a Japanese modification of Northern Kalapuyan "Kopfan", meaning "midway" (between coast and valley).
[7] - Chapunmefu is McMinnville, OR
[8] - Chantatawa is Corvallis, OR while Chemank'lakwa is Albany, OR
[9] - The Anbineifu is the Mary's River, the Rakkamayu is the Luckiamute, and the Anbaru River is the Santiam. All are Kalapuyan regional endonyms loaned into Japanese
[10] - Milpu is Cottage Grove, OR, while Yankalat is Yoncalla, OR, the same root as the Yoncalla name OTL
[11] - The Inakkai River is the Siuslaw River of Oregon, from a Nuu-chah-nulth modification (originally Inak'ahahi) of a Siuslaw word meaning "river". Hitsihis is Florence, OR
[12] - Chateshtan is Dundee, OR while Chimapuichuk is Champoeg, OR
[13] - Chamikiti is Salem, OR
[14] - Chanhalpam is Jefferson, OR
[15] - K'ak'aakhtis is Newport, OR
[16] - Chachinchal is Dallas, OR
[17] - Roughly the OTL Yoncalla, the southernmost group of Kalapuyans and only group outside the Willamette Valley who spoke that language. "Kimamduksh" is Imaru Trade Language for "people of the omodaka" and will become the root of their Japanese ethnonym, "Kimanjuku"
[18] - The Gantsugamitsu is Elk Creek while Gagonbitsu River is Calapooya Creek, both tributaries of the Umpqua River in Oregon. Ch'aninit is Reedsport, OR
[19] - The Black and White Roads are named for a common directional symbolism TTL (recall the Grey Mountains), with White representing East and Black representing West. Black Road is essentially the OTL Siskiyou Trail (which itself was used by natives for ages before), the ancestor of I-5, yet only extends south to Pasnomsono [Redding, CA] rather than San Francisco. In the north it extends to the Shisutara River delta along roughly I-5's route. The White Road is roughly US 97 but at the Klamath River it follows that course instead. The two roads link around Hornbrook, CA.
[20] - Chapalmanchal is Umpqua, OR and Changantqabit is Elkton, OR
[21] - Changamafa is Oakland, OR
[22] - If it has not been made clear yet, TTL's coastal Athabaskan migrations occur earlier and in greater numbers, although most Athabaskans end up in hillier and less desirable regions like Coast Mountains or Cascades [Grey Mountains]
[23] - The Nachtetanne are the Takelmans, who I've made reference to in the past
[24] - "Walamtksh" is the Chinookan exonym for the Valley Tanne, originally being a Klamath term meaning "uplanders".
[25] - Kw'eisedan is Grants Pass, OR, Kw'ahaha is Ashland, OR, and Talodan is Jacksonville OR. Hleadni is Roseburg, OR, and Kasikaitan is Myrtle Creek, OR
[26] - The Dakube River is the Applegate River of Oregon while Maasrak'omdan is Applegate, OR
 
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Have you got a brief timeline of the events that have occured in the TL.
I could post one, but I'll wait until I'm finished with the current series of updates on ethnography/the history of the civilised parts until now. I have three more left--the Chiyatsuru/[Interior] Salishans (plus the Yilhqanin Dena), the Tsupnitpelu of the Kuskuskai River and surrounding areas, and the Aipakhpam with a special focus on the Wayamese.

It'll probably be another appendix like the list of ethnic groups, and probably will have contemporary OTL events from elsewhere in the Americas for the sake of comparison.
 
I could post one, but I'll wait until I'm finished with the current series of updates on ethnography/the history of the civilised parts until now. I have three more left--the Chiyatsuru/[Interior] Salishans (plus the Yilhqanin Dena), the Tsupnitpelu of the Kuskuskai River and surrounding areas, and the Aipakhpam with a special focus on the Wayamese.

It'll probably be another appendix like the list of ethnic groups, and probably will have contemporary OTL events from elsewhere in the Americas for the sake of comparison.

I'd like an accompanying map too.
 
I could post one, but I'll wait until I'm finished with the current series of updates on ethnography/the history of the civilised parts until now. I have three more left--the Chiyatsuru/[Interior] Salishans (plus the Yilhqanin Dena), the Tsupnitpelu of the Kuskuskai River and surrounding areas, and the Aipakhpam with a special focus on the Wayamese.

It'll probably be another appendix like the list of ethnic groups, and probably will have contemporary OTL events from elsewhere in the Americas for the sake of comparison.
No worries. That would be great!
 
I'd like an accompanying map too.
Next map is the long-awaited culture map (almost done), but afterwards I'll be doing one of the core area of TTL.

Problem is the Cascadia base map I have is too small, and I can't find any other good basemaps of the area. I'll probably work a solution but if anyone has a good basemap of the area or any ideas/thoughts I'd be glad to hear them.
 
Map 4-North American cultural areas (1150 AD)
Here is the map portraying the cultural areas of North America (north of Mesoamerica) in the year 1150 AD. Zoom in to read the accompanying text or the names of important regional centers. Chronologically, this map belongs after Chapter 19.

 
Chapter 25-The Country of Silver and Lakes
-XXV-
"The Country of Silver and Lakes"
In the mountainous north of the Imaru Plateau lived the Salishan people, relatives of the Whulchomic people of the coast. In this country, mountains rose from the Imaru Plateau and the land gradually became more forested. Like the Whulchomic people of the coast, the Salish divided themselves into many ethnicities and cultures based on the rivers and valleys they lived in but acknowledged several larger groups based on shared cultural traits and languages. These included the Shilkh, the Skowakhtsanakh, the Qlhispe, the Schits'uumish, while the closely related Northern Salish included the Nhlekepmkh, and the Stl'atl'emkh [1]. Although sometimes generalised as Salishans, not all Salishan speakers were considered civilised in Fusanian thought. For instance, the Eastern Hillmen of the Plains Salish--who later gave their ethnonym "Salishan" to the entire cultural group and the Whulchomic-Salishan languages--departed their homeland on the Plateau in the late 10th century due to drought and warfare and lived on the Plains ever since. As such, "Chiyatsuru", a Namal exonym meaning "Interior People", was the preferred collective term for these groups, although "Swanamish", their Whulchomic exonym, was also often encountered.

The southerly Chiyatsuru living in drier lands away from the mountains lived mostly in pit houses with tule roofs propped up by timbers. Their elites built timber-framed longhouses which sat mostly above ground and often were elaborately painted with family crests. The northerly Chiyatsuru regardless of status lived almost entirely in longhouses with their clans, with the elites living in the elaborate wooden palaces. In these cultures, they built pithouses for additional workspaces, storage, and housing slaves and animals yet almost never for human dwellings.

Much of the Chiyatsuru country lacked good agricultural land as the people lived in river valleys hemmed in between mountains and floodplains. Like the Aipakhpam, they built terraces early on to increase the farmland available, but also extensively utilised aquaculture and omodaka farming. The city of St'kamhtsi on the Andou River [2] and its environs display this perfectly. Here at this chief center of the Qlhispe people, the people grew omodaka and water plants like tiger lilies amidst earthworks on the floodplains while sculpting the nearby cliffs and hills with channels and mounds to grow sunflowers and the most culturally preferred crop, camas (indeed, "Qlhispe" is said to mean "people of the camas").

Yet the forested mountains that bordered Chiyatsuru lands gave their cuisine important distinctions compared to that of the Aipakhpam in the drier Middle Imaru. In these mountains, the Chiyatsuru used typical Fusanian forestry techniques to maximise the amount of harvestable food and usable wood. They gathered many baskets of berries and hazelnuts in these areas as well as forage for their reindeer, towey goats, and moose. Most notably, they gathered great amounts of the hairy tree lichen known as wila, or black moss. They made cakes and bread from it, mixed it with berries and pine syrup, and used it as animal feed. They made clothes for slaves from it and used it in medicine. While other Plateau peoples ate wila or used it in medicine, the Chiyatsuru love for it was well-known in Fusania that "hair eater" was a somewhat derogatory term other groups occasionally used.

While numerous important centers existed for each Chiyatsuru people, perhaps the most important was Shonitkwu. Located at a key fishing site and rapid along the Imaru River, Shonitkwu originated as the oldest center of the Shilkh people as people from all over gathered there for ceremonies and trade. It displayed traits of both Wayam to the south and the trading centers of the Dena to the north in terms of architecture and social organisation, a style which spread throughout Chiyatsuru lands. It became the first true city in all the lands of the Chiyatsuru and became imitated by numerous other centers of the Chiyatsuru like other Shilkh cities like T'kuyatum and Kp'itl'els, St'kamhtsi of the Qlhispe, the twin centers of Khant'aqan and Nts'amkinkwi of the Schitsu'umish, and Kawakhtchin of the Skowatsanakh [3].

Economically, the root of the Chiyatsuru economy lay in their metalworking. Although the Dena and Southern Hillmen often possessed better individual skills, only the Chiyatsuru lived in a country rich enough in both ore and people to fully develop this cultural element. Large quantities of copper, silver, zinc, and lead lay in the mountains of their land, and thus the Chiyatsuru from early times began to exploit this. Starting in the 9th century, the Chiyatsuru were the first in the Imaru Basin to mine, smelt, and experiment with alloying these metals together on a large scale. They turned this raw wealth into grand artifacts for export including jewelry, tools, and weapons. Only the Aipakhpam of Ktlatla [4] possessed similar mineral wealth and the associated skills as the Chiyatsuru.

Many outsiders believed that while a Hillman smith might be skilled and brilliant, only the Chiyatsuru truly knew how to bring the spirits out in the flames to reforge something into the needed shape and function. The production of arsenical bronze on a sizable scale began in the 12th century in the Imaru basin and the Chiyatsuru led this revolution even though other centers like Ktlatla emerged as well. Their legend tells of a smith who dreamt of a swarm of fireflies incinerating everything and on awakening found a Pasnomsono ("hammer of the Southern Hillmen" traditionally, but understood to refer to Pasnomsono) bronze hammer beside him. After seeking spiritual guidance, he cast the hammer into the flames and began to work it with his own tools. He forged it into numerous shapes, trying to unlock the spiritual secret of how the Hillmen produced such a tool. He began to request great quantities of ores from the mountain and upon offering his spirit to the flames, produced a hammer of even greater quality than the one he had before. This story appeared throughout Chiyatsuru lands, and each group claimed to be the true inventors of arsenical bronze.

Like many Fusanians, the most important ceremonies were those of the harvest and those of the first salmon, collectively termed "first fruits ceremonies". Entire villages gathered, ritual dances were held, reindeer and towey goats slaughtered as offerings with their bones deposited in a river or lake, and leaders delivered speeches to ensure the continual prosperity of their land. As common, the blood and bones of the salmon were separated from the meat offered to the leader and thrown into the water, while the inedible parts of the first camas, omodaka, and other plants would be returned to the land under the supervision of the high priest. In larger cities like Shonitkwu, nobles invited their commoner followers while the lord of the city held the ceremony with his family and select nobles.

The early Chiyatsuru observed potlatches twice a year--at the first snow (the winter potlatch) and at the beginning of spring, although in later times adopted the custom of potlatches at auspicious occasions where politics were often conducted from coastal areas. At the winter potlatch, people danced for several nights to please their guardian spirits and often to demonstrate their powers. Taboos such as that on drinking blood were lifted to fulfill the demands of their spirit. At the end of it, the noble hosting the dance restored normality by distributing gifts that indebted the attendees to him. Symbolically, this distribution of wealth was meant for both the people and their spirits, ensuring the success of the host's followers in secular and spiritual realms.

The spring potlatch focused on ensuring success in the new year. The host--always a ruler--called upon his high priest (appointed based on mastery of guardian spirit power that influenced the weather) to summon the South Wind to bring the spring. They danced and sang to please their spirits, but rarely did they announce their spirits to other or break taboos. On the last day, the ruler distributed gifts while the high priest symbolically blessed the land, preparing it for even greater fertility during the first fruits ceremonies. This event drew many lesser rulers, often drawn by the prospect of receiving blessings both spiritual and physical, and thus became much more important for secular politics than its winter counterpart.

The Chiyatsuru took the brunt of the Dena migrations during the American Migration Period. From the 4th century to the 11th century, the Chiyatsuru lost much ground to these invaders but as a result became the first in the Imaru Basin to be acculturated in the horticultural pastoralist lifestyle of the Dena. The Chiyatsuru distinguished between the Dena nobility who ruled them and hostile groups of Dena such as the Tsetih'en Dena. Some easterly groups of Mountain Salish and the Slet'ewhsi [5] adopted nearly the entire lifestyle of the Dena groups who lived nearby like the Tsetih'in Dena, keeping only the vaguest hints of Chiyatsuru culture outside of their language. It is likely that the Yihlqanin Dena, who lived in the valleys immediately north of the Shilkh, perhaps at one point also were Chiyatsuru before their wholescale assimilation into Dena culture. An ancient animosity existed between the Yihlqanin Dena and the Shilkh, and the Shilkh told stories that many of their ancestors once fled from those valleys, pursued by cruel Dena warriors.

Although largescale conflicts ceased by the 11th century, the Chiyatsuru still suffered numerous raids by the Dena. Whenever the weather seemed right, Dena warriors descended from the mountains and plundered Chiyatsuru villages, taking food, goods, and people to sell as slaves, often to other Chiyatsuru or to the Whulchomic people on the coast. Many Chiyatsuru warriors died protecting their people from these raids, so many that often the villages allied with Dena bands hostile to their main enemies so they may contribute warriors to the struggles. This seems the origin of the majority of Chiyatsuru nobility and an important contributor to the assimilation of Chiyatsuru peoples such as the ancestors of the Ieruganin Dena. These Dena bands dominated Chiyatsuru political considerations, and seem likely to be the reason why so often the Chiyatsuru fought on the side of the Dena in ancestral conflicts like those battles against the Aipakhpam and Whulchomic peoples so noted during the 4th and 5th centuries.

Further, the Chiyatsuru faced incursions from the south. The Skowatsanakh record a tradition of fighting an ancient war against the people of Ktlatla which ended in their defeat after treachery from their allies and the gods themselves. Similarly, the Winachapam record conquering and settling in the lands of the Skowatsanakh and founding the great city of Winacha [6], one of the Five Cities of the Aipakhpam. Archaeology suggests this war (or wars) took place in the 7th century judging by changes in architecture and conflict near the site of Winacha. Regardless, relations between Winacha and Ktlatla and the Skowatsanakh city states like Kawakhtchin remained unfriendly at best throughout much of history.

These ancestral conflicts meant that Chiyatsuru society came to value security above other considerations. War leaders held great power in society, similar to their linguistic kin on the coast, with the distinction that in Chiyatsuru society, the war leaders and political leaders tended to be one and the same and united in the position of the ilmikhwm (amongst many variations) [7], which might be compared to a fusion of the military and civil leadership found in an Aipakhpam miyawakh and his war leader into one position. Always a male (although his primary wife, sisters, and daughters commanded great authority themselves), the ilmikhwm settled disputes within his community and organised the community for both war and peace. Lesser villages which relied on greater communities for defense elected a khatuts, who ruled the village at the behest of both his council and the ilmikhwm he pledged loyalty to--in essence, he was similar to an Aipakhpam miyuukh. And like the senwitla of the Aipakhpam, a ruler appointed a herald known as a tsukh'wawam to speak for him as needed. He also appointed another herald, the tsokhqoloqwehilt, to speak for him during important ceremonies. The tsokhqoloqwehilt was mainly a village position with those serving under an ilmikhwm being considered an honorary title with its roles delegated out to lesser nobles.

Chiyatsuru religion, animistic as all Fusanian faiths, focused itself around the acquisition of guardian spirit power called sumikh (among variations) to ensure prosperity and safety in the unbalanced world. Typically they gained this power as children through meditation and arduous rites at sacred places such as mountains, groves, or lakes, usually supervised by a spiritually powerful kinsmen as a rite of passage. Spirit power amplified an individual's skills, influencing their success in life, although individuals were cautioned to never rely too much on their spirit alone. Spirits could be demanding, and individuals gained more power from them through proper conduct and ritual. Sometimes, strong spirits might be inherited from ancestors although the Chiyatsuru distinguished this from reincarnation. A few individuals gained very weak or no spirit powers at all, a failing believed to be caused by their laziness, impurity, or other moral failings which drove away potential guardian spirits.

The Chiyatsuru called their chief deity Qelentsoten, roughly meaning "Everything-Creator", but this deity went by many other names such as Amotqen. Qelentsoten created the world and gave everything it's name and shape. Fox, the first-named being was appointed as the first Transformer, but in his haste to stabilise the world he created monstrosities that oppressed the people and spirits. Qelentsoten appointed Coyote, who he assigned the second-to-last name, as a Transformer to counteract Fox's well-intentioned failure. Coyote went around correcting Fox's failures, yet the balance of the world could never be restored. Wanting to make the world safe for humans, Coyote's descendents, Qelentsoten dramatically reshaped the world, exiling Coyote and Fox to either end of it and himself leaving. As he left beyond the world, he assigned the last name, Sweat-House, to a powerful spirit who lived in the center of the world and was to teach the people the proper ways as Qelentsoten's representative. [8]

Their main religious cults focused on the worship of Coyote, the Transformer god, and other primordial beings personified as shapeshifters or animal-headed gods who were the ancestors of all humans and animals (the distinction between the two only occurring at the dawn of the current world). The Sweat-House God's cult was also popular, as Qelentsoten appointed him to watch over humans after Qelentsoten's departure (following his exile of Coyote and Fox to either end of the world) at the end of the previous age. Thought of as an ancient man, the Sweat-House God watched over people in place of Qelentsoten to remind people of him and his balance before Qelentsoten returned at the end of time. Every sweathouse was a symbol of his, and proper conduct in his name was said to bring success.

Although the rivers of the Chiyatsuru country tended to be full of rocks and rapids, the Chiyatsuru adapted to this by becoming expert navigators in addition to their ship design. They constructed several different sorts of canoes and river boats for all sorts of conditions. One distinctive design was the pine-and-birch-bark sturgeon-nosed canoe, a 3-4 meter canoe with blunt ends useful in marshes and turbulent water. Tradition holds its invention to the Shilkh people of Lake Gangou [9] yet it spread nearly everywhere in Chiyatsuru country and even to the Dena and groups on the High Plains. Aside from this, they used larger river galleys on calmer stretches of river while on the many lakes they used large catamarans and lake galleys.

The many mountain lakes in Chiyatsuru territory tended to be the nucleus of powerful states. These lakes came from the remnants of glaciation during the last ice age and were surrounded by forests and mountains in which minerals lay beneath. Near them lay great marshland for growing crops and collecting reeds, while the lake itself served as a fishery and a transportation conduit. Extensive intermarriage occurred amongst lakeside communities and the natural economic links present enabled the formation of relatively large states early on. Typically the city which ruled the lake gained power by its ilmikhwm being wealthy enough to construct a large navy to intimidate rivals. These navies allowed sizable armies to deploy themselves in any potential trouble zone along the lake.

The size, wealth, and mobility of these states allowed them to project power far beyond their immediate homeland, thus becoming something more than just city-states. The Skowatsanakh city of Kawakhtchin is an archetypical example of this. Starting in the 9th century, the ilmikhwms of Kawakhtchin used their wealth to equip a sizable fleet and army. By the year 1050 gained the submission of every single village by and around Lake Chlhan through diplomacy (often as protectors from the Grey Mountains Dena) and occasionally by force (the conquest of the town of Stkhwiken at the northwest end of the lake [10] in 1050 completed the unification of the lakeside). During the next few decades, Kawakhtchin's forces swept along the Imaru south to the Anchiyatoku River, clashing with Winacha, and north to Khantsin, clashing with the rising power of T'kuyatum and its Dena allies [11]. While not the most populous state in Fusania, in 1090 AD Kawakhtchin was probably the largest, as it united nearly ever ethnic Skowatsanakh under its banners.

While the most powerful lake state thanks to the long, skinny shape of Lake Chlhan, Kawakhtchin was not the only lake state. The Schits'uumish diarchy of Khant'aqan (the spiritual and political center) and Nts'amkinkwi (the economic and social center) organised on the shores of two lakes very near to each other. This area was flat and marshy and perfect land for growing omodaka and other water crops with little need for labour intensive improvements. These lands prospered and in the 9th - 11th centuries Khant'aqan-Nts'amkinkwi spread its political, economic, and spiritual influence over the entirety of Schits'uumish lands to a degree that even though the co-ilmikhwms who ruled there were not the only ilmikhwms of the Schits'uumish, they were effectively rulers of the entire Schits'uumish people. Thus, Khant'aqan-Nts'amkinkwi led a loose confederation conventionally termed the Schits'uumish Confederation. Only a few Dena tribes as well as the Nk'atkhw Qlhispe city-state of Nkhwemine [12] downstream dared to challenge the Schits'uumish Confederation.

The Schits'uumish traded their surplus of food and livestock to the mining villages in the valleys east of them, claimed from the Dena after a successful campaign in the 10th century. Here, miners hewed great amounts of silver, lead, and copper from the earth, which the Schits'uumish purchased and refined into valuable trade goods. Khant'aqan-Nts'amkinkwi became an important metalworking center, a place many smiths visited to learn new skills or seek power in the hills nearby.

Perhaps the most ambitious project undertaken by Khant'aqan-Nts'amkinkwi was the linking of the two lakes by canal, a feat possible as only eight kilometers separated the two lakes over low-lying ground. Legend holds a jester challenged the co-ilmikhwms to visit each other's homes without making a single footprint as a riddle referring to the impossibility of things. Pranksters themselves, the co-ilmikhwms wished to humiliate the jester and his impossible challenge. Starting around 1050, the co-ilmikhwms assembled great amounts of manpower to carve an artificial river between the two lakes, a task thousands of workers laboured on and off for around forty years. Both ilmikhwms and the jester lived to see its completion, and around 1090 both men sailed down the canal in narrow canoes and met in the middle. While the canal was very narrow in the early years, later rulers would only expand the river, and begin turning the meeting place into a great water garden and palatial complex.

Comparable in scope and power to Kawakhtchin on Lake Chlhan was the city of Pent'ikten located at the southern end of the great Lake Antekkutsu where it flows out into the smaller Lake Okinagen [13]. Pent'ikten gained power from economically subduing the spiritual center of Okinaq'en at the southern end of the lake sometime in the 10th century, but unlike Khant'aqan-Nts'amkinkwi it never evolved into a diarchy (although all great festivals were held there as the high priest resided there). Pent'ikten's key position at the center of a trade route crossing into the northern plateaus allowed the city to become exceptionally wealthy. Helped by its rule over Okinaq'en, a constant supply of pilgrims and migrants flowed into the area, causing a demographic shift. The Dena and especially Nhlekepmkh who lived there before either left (sometimes violently) or assimilated into the local Shilkh population.

This manpower covered the slopes of the mountains of the Antekkutsu Valley in great terraces as well as dug great irrigation trenches and earthworks enabling the area to export great amounts of food, often in exchange for fine reindeer bred by Dena of the nearby mountains. Linked by intermarriage, Pent'ikten sometimes campaigned against the Nhlekepmkh towns on the shore of Lake Antekkutsu, although their ambitions were often frustrated by the need to placate their Dena allies with the plunder as well. Just as often they maintained peaceful trading relations with these towns, some of whom even permitted Pent'ikten to establish trading colonies such as Nkhok'osten and Tselohtsus [14]. These trading colonies often eclipsed the local towns in prosperity, leading to further assimilation to the local Shilkh culture.

Although Pent'ikten never ruled over the entirety of the Antekkutsu Valley with as iron of a fist as Kawakhtchin did over their Lake Chlhan, they still held huge economic influence there. A loose confederation formed between the towns of the lake and allied Dena clans in the mountains, mostly to contest attacks by the Dena city-state of Khwatzelabazi by Lake Benchodo as well as other towns of the Dena of the Negami River [15]. Pent'ikten's influence lay in economic, spiritual, and cultural realms rather than direct rule or military strength. It effectively united the Antekkutsu Valley by peaceful means, despite how often its rulers wished they held greater control.

Other strong lake states existed, such as Qapqapeh on the shores of the lake that later carried its name. A Qlhispe city, Qapqapeh overthrew the hegemony of the stronger lake city of Nts'amutsi around 980 thanks to their increasing demands for tribute during a drought [16]. Qapqapeh used the wealth gained from sacking Nts'amutsi to unite the vast shores of Lake Qapqapeh which they accomplished by the late 11th century. Their primary enemies were the Dena to their east and north who forced a begrudging alliance with Khant'aqan-Nts'amkinkwi to their south.

The northeastern Shilkh lands diverged from this regional trend despite the many large natural lakes such as Lake Nagasabi and Lake Kitsureru [17] and Lake Gangou. Surrounded by mountains, fierce Dena tribes extracted much tribute from these Shilkh in both food and especially from the rich silver, lead, and copper mines in the area, thus hindering their independent development. Around the mid-11th century, the leaders of these Shilkh cities like Kp'itl'els, Naq'osp, and K'iyahmlup [18] formed a confederation to throw off the rule of the local Dena tribes. From the 1050s to the 1070s, they inflicted increasingly heavy defeats on the Dena and effectively turned the tables on them. Much of the fighting took place in the Upper Gangou Valley south of Lake Gangou where the wars effectively depopulated the area. New settlements emerged just as fast though as ambitious nobles carved out a place for themselves. One of these, Npokhst'yan, founded around 1060 grew rapidly thanks to the skill of its founding rulers and agricultural wealth of the land and not fifty years later already ranked among the largest cities of the region. [19]

The initial confederation of the Lakes Shilkh fell apart within a few years, replaced by a few smaller confederations each centered around the lake on which they sat. Governance in these confederations was akin to that of the leagues of the Whulchomic peoples, although without the extreme political fracturing found in Whulchomic lands they were usually dominated by two or three towns each. The region gained the name "Land of Twenty Cities and Five Lakes" which although the identities of the "five lakes" were all agreed on, which centers ranked among the "twenty cities" was a subject of considerable dispute.

The sole exception to this disunity was the wealthy and rich state at Kanch'ak at the shores of Lake Kanchaku. In the 1080s united all of the Kanchaku Valley through its naval force and legend held through outright purchasing rival towns. It's isolated position in the Kanchaku Valley and wealth from silver and lead mines led it to develop a reputation for fabulous wealth in Fusania (mostly west of the Grey Mountains), where the streets were made of silver and even the slaves wore fine robes for no man ever hungered or wanted for anything in this land. [20]

A few river states held considerable power as well, such as the Qlhispe city of Nkhwemine located on a set of falls on the Ankatoku River [21]. The primary center of the powerful Nk'atkhw subgroup of the Qlhispe, Nkhwemine exerted power as a typical regional fishing center turned political power. Nkhwemine acted as the gateway between the wetter forested mountains to the north and east and the drier plateau to the west. As a result, considerable trade in goods rare in either area occurred at this city.

Yet the state that created the most consequence to Fusanian history was the Shilkh city of T'kuyatum at the mouth of the Okinagen River. Always an important site due to its strategic location, T'kuyatum prospered thanks to the constant river trade with cities all around the Imaru Plateau as well as upriver to the city-state of Pent'ikten. Clever rulers balanced the rivalries between Dena tribes and northerly Chiyatsuru peoples to gain the best trade deals and security against enemies. While it was a regional center since the 9th century, it only came into its own as a local power with the conquest of the rival city of Tlaamina upriver around 1040 AD [22]. Other regional rivals like Tkhwets'p and Sohyus [23] suffered defeat in wars to the Dena or to rivals like Kawakhtchin or Pent'ikten in the late 11th century. T'kuyatum's clever diplomacy kept them secure while equally skilled rulers took full advantage of this disruption to aggrandise themselves.

At the start of the 12th century, Kawakhtchin seemed like an unstoppable force on the Imaru Plateau. An observer from the Old World divorced from the context of Fusanian politics might view the city-state as soon to undergo a transition to a regional empire. Yet the rise of the warlord Chelkhalt to the position of ilmikhwm of T'kuyatum in 1108 changed this fate. Legend holds he was a noble who at the behest of the council, provoked by his brother in law the high priest, deposed the previous dynasty of ilmikhwms for their decadence, fearing they would cause great spiritual imbalance. They selected Chelkhalt for his fiery speeches and his strong guardian spirit power that had led him to victory against Kawakhtchin several times in the past.

Kawakhtchin's failure to rise to greater heights might be attributed to several factors, all of which relate to the structural weakness of Fusanian states and institutions in this era. The state's structure was centered on kin and clan networks who swore loyalty to the lineage of the Ilmikhwm of Kawakhtchin. Yet there was no loyalty beyond this, and the ilmikhwm relied on his followers to keep resources flowing from those outside or only minimally linked to these networks, a task which required the increased distribution of his own wealth at potlatches. By the 12th century, Kawakhtchin's vassals had grown increasingly demanding thanks to memories of so many lavish feasts beforehand, forcing its ilmikhwm to increase raids on neighbours as well as raise his own demands for tribute from subject villages, an obviously unpopular policy. Some of these raids stretched across the Grey Mountains, such as one around 1100 AD in which Kawakhtchin attacked some Whulchomish villages of the Kwatkach'ked League. The siyams of the Kwatkach'ked League responded quickly and ambushed Kawakhtchin's force resulting in near-total defeat, an event commemorated in one of the oldest surviving Fusanian tapestries.

Chelkhalt exploited this wholeheartedly. He allied with a Dena prince with kin amongst some villages of Kawakhtchin and began to subvert them from within, ensuring people raised their voices in complaint against the ilmikhwm and the khatuts he charged with enforcing tribute. At the same time, his Dena ally agreed to several trade deals extremely beneficial for Kawakhtchin, yet this tactic was to create a false sense of security. The villages friendly to his--and T'kuyatum's--cause smuggled out many goods, especially food, to the Dena. These village headmen claimed the produced far less than they actually did, and Kawakhtchin's administration reduced the amount of tribute correspondingly.

In 1112, Kawakhtchin made spring raids on the Dena as payback for impoverishing their followers. At this point, Chelkhalt struck and mobilised his own followers for war. T'kuyatum unleashed withering raids on Kawakhtchin's allies during summer and autumn of that year, killing hundreds of warriors and achieving the submission of several disputed villages. Kawakhtchin's forces only checked T'kuyatum through their overwhelming numbers that forced Chelkhalt to protect his own territory. Only a few raids occurred on villages by Lake Chlhan thanks to the strength of Kawakhtchin's fleet in moving their forces around. The people settled in for the winter and the conflict largely stopped, only to be renewed during spring 1113.

This convinced Chelkhalt of the necessity of naval power. He used the winter festivities that year to convince his nobles of the necessity of his forthcoming plan. T'kuyatum nearly doubled their fleet for use in a two-pronged plan sure to bring success, although it could not enter Lake Chlhan thanks to the rapids there. Returning from a major raid that summer, Chelkhalt tricked the warriors of Kawakhtchin into believing his party was far less numerous and far more weighed down in loot by having shipped it away by boat. The warriors on the boats returned and waited in ambush. As Kawakhtchin's forces made a frontal attack against Chelkhalt's encampment at the mouth of the Metsuho River (or Metkho as it was known) [24], Chelkhalt gave the signal and captured or killed perhaps a thousand of their warriors at minimal cost to his own men. Extensive raiding continued until autumn that year when the campaign season ended.

The second part of the plan involved the actual capture of Kawakhtchin and Lake Chlhan. Chelkhalt hired perhaps two hundred mercenaries from amongst the Namals. Along with a few dozen Dena warriors, they crossed over the Grey Mountains not long after the winter potlatch in January 1114. That winter was among the coldest during the Medieval Warm Period in this region, and a layer of ice had formed on Lake Chlhan for the first time in living memory [25]--sources claim this is the result of the enormous strength of the spirit power of Chelkhalt's brother-in-law, a shaman said to have control over the north wind who Chelkhalt enlisted in his campaign. Legend has it this shaman guided the men over the mountains by having them use the winds as a compass--he would not change the direction of the wind without sending them a spiritual sign.

In a famous Chiyatsuru story, Chelkhalt's men descended from the mountains wearing thick cloaks and robes dyed white. They marched to the middle of the lake under cover of night and blizzard, and then marched to Kawakhtchin and attacked the city by lakeshore at sunrise, once again navigating by the winds. The city's watchtowers and high wooden walls bypassed, Chelkhalt's men sacked the city with impunity. Parties went house to house, looting and plundering and cutting down the city's warriors who tried to form up and mount some defense. They killed every adult man and enslaved the women and children. The Ilmikhwm of Kawakhtchin was found dead in his palace, allegedly from the stress of Chelkhalt driving off his guardian spirit with his spiritual force. The sudden shock of this attack led to Chelkhalt's followers gaining the name Pukhmitsa, meaning "White Robes", both for their clothing and the time of their attack (sunrise, associated with the colour white in Fusanian thought). Legend told that Chelkhalt's great-grandmother, a fierce woman whose name had been Pukhmitsa, appeared to him in a vision to guide him on the strategy. Kawakhtchin was never rebuilt after this, although later villages appeared near the ruins.

The only thing not looted or stolen was the still-sizable fleet Kawakhtchin owned. When the ice melted not long after, Chelkhalt commanded these ships as he gained the submission of every village at Kawakhtchin. Few resisted him, and the surrender of the ilmikhwm's nephew Maheqen (who became a loyal follower of Chelkhalt) at the spring potlatch ended the campaign, leaving T'kuyatum the most powerful state on the Imaru Plateau.

Historian Gaiyuchul of Katlamat speaks of Chelkhalt in his Saga of the Four Corners:
"Of all rulers in the history of this land, the deeds of the great prince Chelkhalt of T'kuyatum must be studied by all who seek to understand the root of statecraft and warfare in this land. Even his most bitter rival Q'mitlwaakutl often praised the talent and skill Chelkhalt unleashed upon the Imaru Plateau. He worked his city of T'kuyatum as if a smith with incredible guardian spirit power, turning weakness and ugliness into great beauty and even more terrible strength. How few might have assumed that the great state by Lake Chlhan, led by the vanished city of Kawakhtchin, could be so totally defeated by this upstart ruler.

Chelkhalt drew his strength from his own self-mastery, self-mastery which inflamed and provoked a burning ambition within him. He lived his life in a state of balance, partaking in luxury only when his followers expected it and subjecting himself to harshness and privation daily. The mountains were his home as he sought to perfectly understand his spirit power, power so strong it is said kept him feeling pain or exhaustion. Perhaps he believed all men might be honed to such understanding. In this lay both Chelkhalt's greatest and worst trait, his expectation of equivalent mastery amongst those who followed him. This led to both his finest successes and his greatest failure."

Chekhalt's ambition did not stop there, as in spring 1115 he turned his attention to the Aipakhpam city of Winacha, a long-time rival of the Kawakhtchin nobles who now served him. To increase his support amongst them and better incorporate their allegiance into his growing empire, Chelkhalt made war against Winacha. Here, Chelkhalt once again displayed his tactical genius. He avoided direct confrontation along the Imaru River and instead relied on his Dena allies to raid interior villages in the Grey Mountains, crippling Winacha's mining infrastructure. In the campaign season, T'kuyatum's forces raided and pillaged the land, occasionally ambushing Winacha's warriors, while in the winter, the White Robes--hardened veterans and mercenaries--set forth and made surprise raids at dawn and dusk.

The nobles of the Imaru Plateau watched this war with unease, far more than they cared about the contemporary return of Coastmen raids to their west. They feared that Winacha might easily lose this war, and especially feared a man with such great spiritual power ruling such a powerful state. They heard the proud boasts of the men and women under T'kuyatum's rule as they traveled in their countries, and delighted in the money--wealth from years of successful campaigns--they gambled away or used to purchase endless luxuries, although they noticed with worry the demand for fine weapons. And no group of nobles worried more than the Aipakhpam, whose paramount city of Winacha now fell under such a dire threat. Wayam and in particular Ktlatla, close allies of Winacha, in particular feared this growing crisis. This anxiety and the rising star of the Wayamese figure who called himself Q'mitlwaakutl returned, would soon lead to a series of revolutionary changes in all Fusania

Author's notes
---​
This is yet another of the ethnology-focused bits, this one focusing on ATL [Interior] Salishan peoples. As usual, I've broadly generalised and focused particularly on individual city-states and political developments of importance. It's an overview of the land as it appears in these times, and a bit of a tour around this corner of Fusania which I will detail in a map once I can get the suitable Cascadia basemap prepared. Chelkhalt is an important figure to Fusanian history whose story will be completed in later updates.

Originally the Northern Chiyatsuru and the Ieruganin were meant to be discussed here, but they're being moved to a separate chapter since I'm trying to cut down on excessive length of chapters.

If you've noticed the Dena are described as losing a lot in this and other recent chapters, that's a regional phenomena I'll discuss in greater detail sooner or later. Long story short, the growing population in the lowlands presses up against their highland homes and triggers conflicts, ones in which greater numbers are coming out ahead in. I'll probably discuss the Amorera, Ancestral Cayuse/Uereppu, and "barbarian" Salishans like the Mountain Salish and Slet'ewhsi there too since they're similar in lifestyle and challenges faced ITTL.

But when I'm finished with this section of the TL I'll complete Chelkhalt's arc and introduce his greatest rival Q'mitlwaakutl, a hugely important figure. Next updates should be roughly Northern Chiyatsuru/Ieruganin Dena, the Tsupnitpelu/Kuskuskai River people, the Maguraku (they are an "uncivilised" group but they figure into Q'mitlwaakutl's story), the Aipakhpam/Wayam, and finally Q'mitlwaakutl.

[1] - TTL's linguistic equivalents of the Okanagan, the Mid-Columbia Salish, the Kalispel, the Coeur d'Alene, the Nlaka'pamux/Thompson Salish, and St'at'imc/Lillooet
[2] - St'kamhtsi is roughly Cusick, WA, while the Andou River is the Pend Oreille River of Washington (derived from a misinterpretation of its native name "Ntkhwe")
[3] - T'kuyatum is Brewster, WA while Kp'itl'els is Castlegar, BC, while Khant'aqan and Nts'amkinkwi are Hayden, ID and Couer d'Alene, ID respectively and Kawakhtchin is Manson, WA
[4] - Ktlatla is Thorp, WA
[5] - ATL Bitterroot Salish and Kalispel people living in the valleys at the western edge of the Rockies and perpetually under Dena influence
[6] - Winacha is Wenatchee, WA, and the Winachapam are the subgroup of Aipakhpam who live there ("people of Winacha")
[7] - This is an Okanagan term which OTL meant chief and who as I noted, appointed chiefs of subordinate villages and other positions of government although otherwise the title functions much differently than any Okanagan speaker would recognise. I'll use this title when referring to Chiyatsuru leaders, despite the linguistic variation within Okanagan peoples let alone the variation within other Interior Salish languages
[8] - Inspired by an OTL Okanagan creation story, reworked to account for the dualistic belief system that prevails ITTL
[9] - Lake Gangou is Kootenay Lake. The canoes described here would be very similar to the OTL sturgeon-nosed canoes, albeit typically are on the larger end
[10] - Lake Chlhan (later called Chiran TTL) is Lake Chelan, while Stkhwiken is Stehekin, WA
[11] - The Anchiyatoku River is the Entiat River, a Japanese term from the same source as its OTL name, a village called Ntiakwu. Khantsin is Pateros, WA
[12] - Nkhwemine is Nine Mile Falls, WA, near Spokane
[13] - Pent'ikten is Penticton, BC, while Lake Antekketsu is Lake Okanagan. Lake Okinagen is Lake Skaha (aka Dog Lake) south of OTL Lake Okanagen. IOTL the Okanagan term "Okinaq'en" referred to a point on this lake where the Okanagan River flowed out of rather than the larger lake. TTL it refers to Okanagen Falls, BC.
[14] - Nkhok'osten is near Kelowna, BC while Tselohtsus is a bit south of Vernon, BC.
[15] - Khwatzelabazi is Salmon Arm, BC, while Lake Benchodo is the Japanese form of a Dena term for Lake Shuswap meaning "Great and Narrow Lake". The Negami River is the Thompson River, coming from a Japanese adaptation of a section of that river
[16] - Qapqapeh is Sandpoint, ID by Lake Pend Oreille while Nts'amutsi is Clark Fork, ID
[17] - Lake Nagasabi and Lake Kitsureru are Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes respectively, gaining their names from Japanese transcriptions of the most prominent cities on them
[18] - Naq'osp is Nakusp, BC, and K'iyahmlup is Nelson, BC
[19] - Npokhst'yan is Creston, BC
[20] - Kanch'ak is Slocan, BC, while the Kanchaku Valley is the Slocan Valley, a notable silver mining region OTL
[21] - The Ankatoku River (Nk'atkhw) is the Spokane River of Idaho/Washington
[22] - Tlaamina is Omak, WA
[23] - Tkhwets'p is Twisp, WA and Sohyus is Osoyoos, BC
[24] - The Metsuho River is the Methow River of WA
[25] - Lake Chelan has rarely frozen over since modern records began in the 19th century. Presumably in the Medieval Warm Period it was similar, while in the Little Ice Age it froze over more often. It would've been an unusual event and likely given religious attribution
 
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Are we going to see what happens in Europe, Africa and Asia. Are the Tudors still going to become Kings? What is going to happen with George Boleyn and Anne Boleyn? Are they going to have happier fates? Will the Africa in this timeline become First world countries by 2020? Please give me some hints.
PS. I'm a huge Boleyn fangirl! Also a big fan of a happy and powerful Africa!
 
super helpful!
Thanks a lot for the map. It is of great help!
Thank you. I guess it's less aesthetic than it is a useful tool.
Love the update! It's great!
Thank you.
Are we going to see what happens in Europe, Africa and Asia. Are the Tudors still going to become Kings? What is going to happen with George Boleyn and Anne Boleyn? Are they going to have happier fates? Will the Africa in this timeline become First world countries by 2020? Please give me some hints.
PS. I'm a huge Boleyn fangirl! Also a big fan of a happy and powerful Africa!
Asia definitely, since all those Chinese and Japanese toponyms had to be coined by someone after all. Technically Asia has already appeared, since the Yupik and Thule Inuit crossed over with their herds and are slowly spreading along the Arctic coast. And Europe too, since many of the people involved in Vinland and Markland have been Icelanders and oxwool (qiviu) by the mid-12th century is a rare and exotic fabric in Europe.

Other than that, I do have some plans and ideas for this TL past 1500 or so but I haven't mapped it out. I do know that sometime between 1250-1300 we should have butterflies start affecting the Old World. No idea how far or fast they'll travel. And no idea who rules England (or anywhere else in Europe with one or two exceptions) in the 15th-16th century, although I do know who will be ruling in East Asia.

Africa I haven't decided much on either. But I can assure they'll be no worse than OTL because that's just cruel.

Overall the focus is on North America for the most part. When it deals with the rest of the world I'd ideally like it to be linked to events in North America or part of a broader issue of colonialism and imperial competition. But who knows, scope creep is everywhere in this TL already, I might have a totally different vision by the time I get to that part.
 
Chapter 26-Among the Valleys at the Edge
-XXVI-
Among the Valleys at the Edge

At the borderline of civilisation and the barbaric world of the Hillmen lay a harsh and rugged country where rivers like the mighty Shisutara carved deep gorges into the high mountains and hills. Almost nothing lay flat in this land, not even the rivers themselves as they were choked with boulders, rapids, and other obstacles. Yet in the few flatter locations, the benchlands, civilisation akin to that further south along the Imaru and Furuge grew up in this land. This resilient civilisation, termed the Northern Chiyatsuru for their linguistic and cultural similarities to other Chiyatsuru, thrived in this land despite being pushed between raging rapids and steep cliffs.

The term Northern Chiyatsuru distinguishes those northerly groups of Chiyatsuru who possessed distinct cultures, languages, and traditions from their southern brethren. While still sharing in the same broad Salishan traditions, their rugged country, proximity to Whulchomic peoples like the Lelemakh and centuries of dominance by the Dena caused them to develop on a different path. While regarded as crude and violent by the southern cousins and sometimes even labeled among the Hillmen, the Northern Chiyatsuru still possessed many hallmarks of urban civilisation and as a whole were more wealthier and more organised than the Dena peoples to their north. Tradition divided the Northern Chiyatsuru into the Nhlekepmkh and the Stl'atl'emkh, but within these two groups existed numerous distinctions, usually determined by what section of what river or lake the group lived on. Each of these groups oriented themselves around one paramount center and ruler.

The Stl'atl'emkh considered civilisation to begin at Old Khakhlip [1], a powerful city state of the Stl'atl'emkh on the Mid-Shisutara River, where legend told the Transformer god Coyote came to perform great deeds and teach the people the ways of civilisation. Certainly Old Khakhlip represented an early and powerful town since at least 400 BC and among the first major sites encountered by the Dena migrating southwards. Some cultural fusion took place at Old Khakhlip as the city readily adopted pastoralism to supplement their rich salmon harvests around 300 AD and entered a major phase of growth and prominence, reaching perhaps 2,000 people by 700 AD as the most important city by far north of the Imaru Basin and Furuge. Lengthy drought, deforestation (especially to feed the growing industry of goldsmiths there), and erosion threatened Old Khakhlip by the 9th century, and conflict against Dena groups created yet more challenges. However, the city remained thriving, if weakened, until the early 11th century when a great landslide temporarily dammed the Shisutara upstream causing a shift in the salmon runs. The city was sacked around this time, possibly by its own residents, and the area nearly abandoned as many residents moved downstream to a site they named after their former home.

In contrast, the Nhlekepmkh considered the place civilisation began to be the city of Tl'q'amshin [2]. Here they believed lived many powerful Transformers such as Ntl'ik'smtm who descended to Tl'q'amshin after his exile in the heavens. As a result a great variety of sacred rocks, trees, and mountains surrounded Tl'q'amshin and the city became a pilgrimage center for those seeking spiritual gifts. Yet religion wasn't the only factor which drew people to this city, as its strategic location where the Negami River flows into the Shisutara ensured it prosperity. At Tl'q'amshin, the Nhlekepmkh and others constructed some of the most elaborate terraces amidst the dramatic gorge of the rivers outside of Wayam and the Imaru Gorge to ensure a secure food supply. The manpower provided by pilgrims and other transient guests in the city allowed Tl'q'amshin to punch far above its weight economically, and the lack of any sizable competitors for many miles upstream or downstream on either river (thanks to the great Shisutara Gorge) ensured Tl'q'amshin's dominance.

The Northern Chiyatsuru believed in many different Transformer gods, of which the greatest was Coyote and his sons, although they held cults to other Transformer gods as well. They believed the supreme god, the Old Man, sent Coyote and other Transformer gods to make the earth fit for humans and animals by Transforming things into their current forms. The Old Man himself descended to earth to observe the creation his Transformers accomplished. Although he proclaimed it good, he was disturbed by the imbalance his Transformers failed to overcome. Four times the world had been destroyed (by fire, flood, blizzard, and drought) thanks to the acts of evil or misguided beings and although set right by the Transformers, the Old Man worried further destruction might come. He perfected creation with further Transformation (although it still lacked balance), then departed to the west into the spirit world, a paradaisical land where he became the Lord of the Dead, presiding over the land of departed spirits. When balance was restored in the end times, he would resurrect the dead and merge the two worlds, restoring true balance and turning this world into a paradise.

They held cults to Coyote and other Transformers and worshipped these gods on sacred mountains or by sacred rocks where in the distant past they performed some deed there. They also held cults to the Sun (said to have been a prince at Tl'q'amshin in ancient times) and to the Moon. Yet their most important cult was their practices of ancestor worship, somewhat distinct from other Fusanians. Led by priests and shamans who met the Lord of the Dead or his assistants, they held great dances (usually at winter and summer solstice, but priests sometimes receive divine instruction to hold them at other times) in temples carved into cliffs to attempt to gain worldy favor for themselves and favor for their ancestors who lived under the Lord of the Dead's rule. Most importantly, they believed it might bring about the end times faster.

Aside from this, the belief in guardian spirit power carried the typical great importance as elsewhere in Fusania. Boys and girls searched for these as part of a rite of passage and believed this spirit power helped influence the remainder of their life. Guardian spirit dances, held at their temples throughout the year, held great importance in demonstrating the powers of their spirit as well as nourishing and honing it.

Proximity to the lands of the Whulchomic people downstream the Shisutara lent a certain influence to the Northern Chiyatsuru. For instance, the potlatch of the Northern Chiyatsuru held more similarities to that of the Whulchomic potlatch than the potlatches of the other Chiyatsuru. Nobles and rulers held these at auspicious occasions throughout the year to demonstrate their wealth and power by giving away vast amounts of goods in order to secure loyalty from their kin and followers.

Other coastal elements prevailed as well. Northern Chiyatsuru woodcarving art as seen on house posts and totem poles was more akin to that of Whulchomic peoples than other Chiyatsuru. They used pithouses only for storage and housing animals, preferring above ground longhouses for their families, yet these resembled the Whulchomic longhouse. The elite cultivated a style which recalled the nobles of city-states like Sqhweyemehl and Kwatkach'ked yet also held many local traits, not least the emphasis on gold and jade. No Fusanian group used more gold in their finery than the Northern Chiyatsuru.

Outsiders knew the Northern Chiyatsuru country for its extensive mineral wealth, the wealthiest country in all Fusania. Silver and especially gold mines littered the land, worked by the impoverished and especially slaves. Yet their greatest export was jade. Great boulders of nephrite lay scattered around their country and buried in the ground, and the Northern Chiyatsuru processed great amounts of jade for their own use and export to peoples to the south. Some of the most distinctive artifacts of Fusanian civilisation originated in this area as the Chiyatsuru incorporated jadework into their gold and silver working, be it statues, pottery, jewelry, or weapons. Jade clubs and spearheads served as common weapons for nobles and the elites.

In exchange for this, the Northern Chiyatsuru imported great amounts of goods from coastal lands. They prized whalebone, seal pelts, and especially shells, which they valued so highly that they cast imitation shells from gold and copper to supplement their supply of the actual good. They frequently imported acorns as well from the coast, as they found the Imaru Oak difficult to grow in any large quantity in their land. Trading parties of Northern Chiyatsuru made quite an impression on their coastal partners, typically wearing much jewelry from jade and gold and shining like the sun.

Outsiders regarded this land as a rough and dangerous country to travel in. High mountain peaks and steep cliffs made travel away from water difficult, and similarly travellers on the rivers faced intense rapids or boulders in the water. Landslides occasionally obstructed trails after heavy rain or earthquakes. And unlike the areas to the south, the climate was intensely continental. In the summer, temperatures occasionally rose over 40 degrees in an area classified as semi-desert and travellers faced the risk of heat stroke and dehydration. In winter, temperatures occasionally reached far below 0 degrees and blizzards and snowstorms hindered travel. For this reason alone, the Lelemakh and other Whulchomic peoples rarely visited the Northern Chiyatsuru, preferring to allow them to travel to their country instead. The Northern Chiyatsuru reciprocated and allowed few into their lands, developing a rather isolationist mindset.

The Northern Chiyatsuru transformed their land through their engineering skills. In the early 10th century, terracing arrived in their lands, revolutionising their agriculture. No longer did they need to rely so heavily on gathering plants in the hills to supplement their diet, and extra labour and time became used for building vast agricultural terraces. The cities of the Mid-Shisutara River hosted some of the largest and most incredible terraces seen in all Fusania. Qanat-like structures (after the 12th century) and manipulation of springs atop the mountains helped water these terraces carved into the imposing cliffs.

Within a century this caused a great shift in their relations with the Dena near them. Before, they frequently warred against each other over control of the hills and mountains for plant resources, game, and land for their reindeer and especially goats, the main animal raised by the Northern Chiyatsuru. Now, the Northern Chiyatsuru needed to rely on this land far less, and their nobles able to both restrict access as well as negotiate access rights far more peacefully than before. The Dena became frequent allies of the Northern Chiyatsuru, helping to keep unwanted outsiders away from what became increasingly their shared land.

Even so, the Northern Chiyatsuru still lived under extensive Dena domination. Their nobility and rulers were all of Dena origin, a lineage they boasted of proudly to their Dena neighbours to their north, yet so were many of the common people. The Dena confederations around them rarely made war on the Northern Chiyatsuru, as the Northern Chiyatsuru gave them what they wanted--slaves, trade goods, and above all, food. The Dena of the region never farmed a surplus, preferring pastoralism and growing food for their animals--as a result, they traded for excess food the Northern Chiyatsuru grew in their great terraced gardens, often in return for animals. Stingy rulers or more often rulers looking out for their own people during bad years for trade and agriculture tended to face Dena raids.

Two groups of Dena were intimately associated with the Northern Chiyatsuru--the Benk'ut'in Dena and the Didayak'in Dena, commonly combined as the Negami Dena. These groups, living in the valleys around Lake Benchodo and the Negami Valley respectively, inherited much from the Northern Chiyatsuru communities they absorbed during the Dena Migrations. But unlike the Ieruganin, these two Dena groups vigorously kept to their old ways thanks to their animosity with other Chiyatsuru, especially the Shilkh (for the Benk'ut'in) and the Nhlekepmkh (for the Didayak'in). They lived as other Northern Dena did, rarely staying in one place and prizing their herds of animals.

Yet despite these rivalries, the Northern Chiyatsuru held an affinity for them, considering their nobility to have originated from these two groups. The Negami Dena reciprocated, allowing Northern Chiyatsuru especially to live within their lands as townsfolk and commoners although refusing them the rights to hunt (including the right to own a bow) or own reindeer, moose, or goats. Many commoners (and escaped slaves) lived in Negami Dena lands despite this, often as merchants making a brisk trade in the precious metals of the country. Khwatzelabazi by Lake Benchodo was mostly Northern Chiyatsuru and often called Spolimtsin, its exonym [3], while the largest Negami Dena city-state, Hleidli (also called Hleidlitsu "Yellow Hleidli") was often known as T'kamluleps [4].

A similar phenomena occurred amongst the Lower Stl'atl'emkh (sometimes called the Tsalahlmets, or Lake Stl'atl'emkh). Living along the mountain lakes and glacial valleys north of the Lower Shisutara, the Dena dominated this group since early in history, and similarly to the Negami Dena maintained their own culture with little blending. The Lake Stl'atl'mekh held kinship links with the Lelemakh valuable for trade, and the Dena of this area used this to their advantage in forming their own alliance with them. From their city-state of Khakhtsa at the head of Lake Hongyaku, the Dena invited many of their people into the interior valleys to live as merchants, miners, or servants [5]. Practically a vassal and full member of the Dena confederation of the area as a result, Khakhtsa exerted considerable influence using naval might on the entirety of Lake Hongyaku and into Lelemakh lands, where they occasionally clashed with siyams of the Leq'emel League.

It is likely that a slight majority of Northern Chiyatsuru lived outside their own country as free men in the lands of the Dena. A great quantity of good land lay in their valleys, and the Dena appreciated their craftsmenship. Thanks to this, their trade network extended as far north as Hleidli (also called Hleidlik'on "Red Hleidli" to distinguish it from the city of the same name in the south) on the Nechakou River. This city the Chiyatsuru called Nts'eqtseq'amshin, a literal translation of Hleidlik'on in their language [6]. Here, they formed the primary inhabitants who lived at the site permanently in harsh rivalry with the Tsusha Coastmen who similarly had taken up residence under Dena protection. Despite this rivalry, Red Hleidli was important as a place for where technology and other developments spread between the Far Northwest and the Imaru-Furuge area. It played a crucial role in attracting the famed merchant quarters of Tsusha and other Coastmen to the Imaru-Furuge area by the late 12th century.

The expansion of terracing caused another important change--the swelling of urban areas. Because of the manpower needed for terraces, only the wealthiest might afford to expand them. Similarly, the hillsides and rocks held important spiritual properties, being transformed ancestors and others--they thus needed strong shamans and priests (available only to wealthy and strong rulers) to mediate with these spirits and permit the cliffs to be transformed. Sites with wealthy rulers like (New) Khakhlip and Tl'q'amshin ballooned in size as their wealthy rulers constructed terraces which grew more food attracting more people and so forth.

Aside from the similar environment of the Imaru Gorge, nowhere else in Fusania was urbanisation greater than in the lands of the Northern Chiyatsuru thanks to the lack of suitable land for settlements and the need for terracing. Around 1100, Khahlip and Tl'q'amshin both held around 2,500 people and ranked among Fusania's largest cities. Slightly smaller was Zakhtsin at the northeastern fringe of Chiyatsuru lands with about 2,000 people [7]. Aside from this, only Koiahum, Nsq'aqalten, Slahus, and Khakhtsa were of any importance, having about 1,000 to 1,500 people each, although they still dwarfed the villages under their authority like Setl', itself once a center [8]. A few large villages existed, but the majority of settlements in Northern Chiyatsuru country were small with only perhaps a few dozen people.

This early and intensive urbanisation permitted high levels of specialisation amongst the Northern Chiyatsuru. Craftsmen of all sorts from metalworkers to sculptors to woodworkers experimented and created great works of art. Goldworking in particular thrived due to the rich sources of local gold and was exported all over Fusania and beyond. Woven textiles also thrived thanks to the skilled goat breeding of the Northern Chiyatsuru. The finest clothing in Fusania came from here, as skilled women wove cloaks of goat wool embroidered with gold thread, an innovation developed here. Totem poles spread here early on, and stories tell of the fantastic poles raised in places like Khakhlip. Few privileges were greater than to train under the artisans and craftsmen (or to employ the skills of one) of cities like Khakhlip, Tl'q'amshin, or Zakhstin.

It also strongly influenced political development amongst the Northern Chiyatsuru. The headmen of clans, akin to the siyams of the Whulchomic people, populated the ranks of the councils in the cities and villages. They helped the prince of the city, titled Kwukwpai (amongst variants), enforce his will on the people, and usually supplied important secondary offices like the chancellor, fishing chief, and war chief. As elsewhere, the prince derived much of his power from his wealth and the respect others had of him--a skilled prince was able to more easily mobilise labour for construction of earthworks, irrigation, and terraces that gave him additional wealth and power. In Northern Chiyatsuru country, the city princes became exceedingly powerful as the political system began to strongly deviate from its earlier forms more akin to the noble republics of the Whulchomic people. They removed and appointed village headmen at will, although infrequently exercised this power as village headmen often appealed to other cities or Dena confederations for assistance.

The influence of Dena confederations played heavily in Northern Chiyatsuru politics. Even these powerful rulers needed to tread carefully, as the Dena might easily be stirred up against them. Facing the anger of a Dena confederation, in particular those of the Benk'ut'in Dena and the Didayak'in, meant a costly war that typically ended with the prince in debt and his overthrow by the city council thanks to having lost favour with the spirits. Many times the villages of Northern Chiyatsuru country acted as members of confederations of Dena towns, and even larger cities like Zakhtsin periodically joined Dena confederations. Yet at the same time, a city like Khakhlip often counted as followers and subjects many Dena villages and towns and the Dena needed to be careful in their dealings with that city. In this way, the lines between Chiyatsuru and Dena ended up being blurred, with both groups equally integral to each other's success.

These concerns kept Northern Chiyatsuru lands relatively peaceful throughout much of the Copper Age in Fusania. While raids and warfare occurred with frequency, in general fighting was smaller scale and less destructive than elsewhere, especially after general peace and cooperation with the Dena began in the 10th century. However, the Stl'atl'emkh seemed to have been the more aggressive of the two groups, in part due to the violent end of Old Khakhlip in the 10th and 11th centuries creating a more militarised culture. The power vacuum that opened in this region led to great competition amongst villages and towns claiming descent from the nobles (never the ruling family, whose memory they condemned) and frequent conflict.

Two centers emerged by 1040 from the early period of fighting--New Khakhlip, who most directly claimed the legacy by appropriating the name of the old city, and Setl', south of Old Khakhlip, which sought to deny New Khakhlip's claim and uphold the remnants of Old Khakhlip. A bitter rivalry ensued, involving the two cities, villages between and around them, several Dena tribes, and even other major city-states like Zakhtsin and Slahus. Conflict after conflict ensued every summer with periodic daring raids in the winter.

In a story repeated in legend ever since, around 1066 the sight of a new star in the sky [9] caused considerable consternation in both cities. The shamans and priests interpreted it as a message from their ancestors, some of whom had been transformed into the stars, but they disputed amongst each other what this message meant. The eldest and wisest shaman in the land claimed that it meant each city must cease fighting and come to peace with each other. But the Kwukwpai of Setl' mocked the man, claiming he must be lying, and in defiance of this ordered a great force to be raised to march on New Khakhlip. Although many village headmen heeded the warnings, the kwukwpai bullied and forced them into providing him warriors.

The Kwukwpai of Khakhlip heeded the warning. He ordered not a single man to take up arms and decided to invite the warriors of Setl' and allies to a feast where they all might accept gifts from each other. As two thousand men from Setl' advanced on New Khakhlip, not a single man in the watchtowers or on the walls remained armed, and village after village greeted them with non-resistance. Emboldened by this, the Kwukwpai of Setl' ordered his men to march faster. Exhausted, tired, and mostly fearful of the consequences of defying the order from the stars, morale plummeted. As they approached New Khakhlip, the stars suddenly vanished as a thunderstorm brewed up, and a flash flood and landslide washed away their encampment. Half of the warriors perished, including the Kwukwpai of Setl' himself.

The shaman received a new message afterwards and proclaimed Khakhlip's people to have passed the test set forth by their ancestors amongst the stars. New Khakhlip had proven worthy to succeed Old Khakhlip and take on its legacy as the place the Transformer descended to. It alone must stand at the center of the civilised world, not share its place with any other city, yet unlike Setl' who chose violence, Khakhlip choosing peace marked it as the true center of the world.

While no doubt exaggerated, the story no doubt held some truth. In the 1060s, Setl' markedly declined thanks to decades of aggressive warfare taking its toll. Its ruler seems to have been appointed by either the Dena, New Khakhlip, or occasionally Slahus, while the population mostly migrated to New Khakhlip. The town never lost its aspirations for glory, as it was by far the smallest settlement to title its ruler a kwukwpai and his palace held far greater luxury than any other village leader.

South along the Shisutara, Tl'q'amshin lacked any real enemies. It's status as a sacred city amongst its people lacked any challengers and the city itself never fell under the rule of tyrannical or inept rulers for long. Aside from a few wars against the Dena and a short campaign against Nsq'aqalten, Tl'q'amshin's history was mostly peaceful. Its rulers cultivated the imagery of a holy city, where one might draw close to the spirits and establish personal balance in life. The words of shamans and priests carried high weight in Tl'q'amshin.

In the early 12th century, a new movement seems to have begun in Tl'q'amshin, perhaps caused by economic issues to the south. With the volume of trade decreasing, Tl'q'amshin's leadership searched for a religious solution to the problem. The messages their shamans and priests received from the spirits made them wonder if their city suffered from a spiritual impurity, like they had disturbed the cosmic balance somehow. Much of Tl'q'amshin's terraces and indeed homes lay carved into the cliffs and rocks which their ancestors and others had been Transformed into. While they'd attempted to mitigate the spiritual problem in the past and present, the inherent impurity of agriculture and pastoralism weighed most heavily on their minds in the time of this religious revival.

They began to drive out terrace farmers from the land, mostly through buying them out, seeking to convert the terraces into gardens and other more "natural" sorts of constructions. Impure animals like ducks and geese vanished from the city, slaughtered in villages well away from it, and the priests began regulating more and more what might be bought and sold. The wealth of Tl'q'amshin started turning to almost exclusively religious art as the city developed as a spiritual center.

Yet by driving out all of this commerce and agriculture, Tl'q'amshin placed a criticial limit on its own potential growth. Many of its residents who disagreed with these policies departed to Nsq'aqalten up the Negami River, or even the lands of the Dena beyond that. Those lands, increasingly filled with Chiyatsuru people, became wealthier and wealthier by the year, and Nsq'aqalten seemed prime to capitalise on this growth. While Tl'q'amshin's religious mentality in the early 12th century was nowhere as strong as in later decades and the city itself still possessed much secular wealth, the city was undergoing a transformation into something far different than a typical Fusanian city-state.

Ieruganin Dena

The Ieruganin Dena (Yilhqanin, meaning "People of Sunrise") lived in the Great Trench of the American Divides as well as adjacent lands in the valley of the Upper Gangou River [10]. They migrated into this land during the Dena expansions of the mid-1st millennium and coalesced into the Ieruganin people by the late 10th century as further Dena moved into the valley. People of Ktanakha and Chiyatsuru origin lived in the area prior to the Dena, but by the 10th century all either had been absorbed by the Ieruganin or moved away across the mountains onto the Plains to join their kin. The Ieruganin also began to absorb influences from the Chiyatsuru to their southwest through extensive trade relations. Many Ieruganin married Chiyatsuru women of the city-state of Npokhst'yan at the south of Lake Gangou in addition to the purchase of many slaves from that area. By the end of the 11th century, the Ieruganin had firmly divided into a farming society in the marshes, lakes, and river valleys and a more traditional horticultural pastoralist society in the hills, each of these societies in symbiotic relation with one another and deeply protective of their land from outsiders.

The narrow, rather isolated, and eerily straight Great Trench formed a great barrier between the Plains and Fusania as well as a great connection to the north and south. Here, the Gangou and the Imaru almost met, separated by only a low hill and some marshes. Dominated by rivers, much of this land flooded regularly creating great marshlands. The resourceful Ieruganin built their houses on stilts and dug great earthworks using their animals and metal tools in order to impose a measure of order on this land. Aquaculture of omodaka and other water plants was especially vital to them thanks to their marshy home.

Much as the similar process in the lands of the Valley Tanne, the Ieruganin Dena separated from their kin by absorbing elements from the societies around them. They spoke a related yet distinct language from the Dena groups around them, one which incorporated many terms related to farming, village life, and societal organisation from both Ktanakha and especially Shilkh Chiyatsuru. Their religious practices and myths seemed a hybrid of traditional Dena beliefs and those of the Ktanakha and especially Chiyatsuru. And naturally, their social organisation borrowed greatly from the Chiyatsuru, structured very similarly with equivalents to the major social and political ranks of society.

The Ieruganin represented a northeastern thrust of the Imaru-Furuge culture of civilised Fusania, one in many ways more akin to the high culture of the Mid-Imaru than those Chiyatsuru who lived amongst the Sechihin Dena to their immediate south. It perhaps emerged as a reaction to conflicts with the Dena tribes around them, especially the powerful Sechihin Dena who controlled many important trade routes, and an embrace of the culture of their constant allies in these conflicts, the Shilkh city-states of Lake Gangou. So precise and imitative this culture was at times that many Fusanian intellectuals believed the Ieruganin were simply Hillmen attempting to be civilised and classified them amongst the barbarians regardless.

Much ceremonialism borrowed much from the Shilkh, such as the custom of potlatching (much different than in other Dena cultures) and the winter spirit dances. The Ieruganin did observe a few unique ceremonies such as the Reindeer Spirit Dance held usually in November where the people danced and impersonated reindeer at the command of a reindeer shaman. The people fasted for five days before, eating little but raw sweetvetch, reindeer lichen, and other food preferred by reindeer. After the dance, a reindeer was ceremonially sacrificed and its meat fed to the people. It is said this rite pleased the reindeer spirits so that they might continue to be in good health and serve the people in even the darkest moments of winter.

The most famous was the Sunrise Ceremony honouring a Transformer god known as the Weary Man (among other names), worshipped only amongst the Ieruganin, a few nearby Dena Hillmen, and the Ktanakha. His ceremonies occurred in east-facing temples full of smoky incense and a treasured artifact, a richly ornamented idol of this god and were said to bring fortune and health to the community. While worshippers left gifts to him throughout the year, the Sunrise Ceremony occurred at the end of winter whenever the priests heard of a man who dreamed of him. They brought this man to the temple and prepared for the ceremony, often accompanied by a potlatch feast from the local ruler. At the end, people gathered for a frenzied dance in his honor.

As with the Chiyatsuru, Ieruganin country possessed untold amounts of mineral wealth that formed the basis of their economy. Vast quantities of gold, silver, copper, lead, and other metals lay beneath their land and exploitation of this wealth began early on at centers like Anecho and Akamhas [11]. And with this came the usual experimentation--Ieruganin smithing borrowed from both Shilkh and Dena traditions. They produced all sorts of brasses and copper alloys along with expert working of gold and silver. Arsenical bronze was produced here since early in the 12th century, and while the Ieruganin did not know of it or deliberately produce it at the time, the earliest tin bronze in Fusania was likely produced here as well thanks to the sporadic sources of tin found near cities like Anecho [12].

While mines operated nearly everywhere in Ieruganin lands, the greatest concentration of this occurred at the city-state of Anecho. Mining gave this city it's name literally meaning "Great Hole". Around 2,000 people lived here in the year 1100 and thousands more nearby, extracting large quantities of ores to be refined into the city's characteristic metalworking styles. Particularly noted was Anecho's brassworking. Made from the zinc-rich ores combined with the plentiful supply of copper, the smiths of Anecho exported great quantities of goods made from this to the nobles of Fusania and across the Plains to as far as Mihithega and the Misebians. As zinc was unknown in Fusania, the people of Anecho attributed brass to mining spirits being tamed by the guardian spirit power of great smiths.

The country of the Ieruganin was long and narrow. Before the migrations north of the 11th century, it stretched down the Great Trench from the headwaters of the Imaru at Lake Teguchi and Lake Tachuru to a bit south of the 49th parallel north in a broad valley called the Degateru [13]. They lived in some of the valleys that flowed into the Great Trench, especially that of the Ijikou River but rarely beyond [14]. The threat of the powerful Sechihin Dena kept them from moving through the mountains freely. They almost never crossed onto the Plains for this reason and the threat of the Ktanakha who held them as ancient enemies.

The exception to this rule was that periodically, a strong leader might mobilise a force of several hundred warriors and hunters, and they would cross the mountains to the Plains and hunt bison. Any village they came across they looted and captured slaves. On the return, they organised a potlatch to give away their gains to the community. Expeditions like these reflected old Dena raiding culture as well as the prestige of hunting in their society and every Ieruganin male was expected to take part in an expedition like this at least once in his lifetime. They viewed leaders unable or unwilling to organise these campaigns as weak and lazy.

A key entrance point to the Plains was the Pass of the Weary Man, named as that mythological hero encountered another powerful Transformer in this place, and in their conflict between each other opened up a path in the mountains [15]. After their fight they decided to keep the pass open, as a way to merge the mountains and plains and thus create balance. As part of their peace treaty, they found a murderer in a nearby village, cut him to pieces, and transformed his body into the lakes at the pass. Other mountains passes were nowhere near as useful, used only for raids on the Plains. At the Pass of the Weary Man, the Ieruganin traded with the Sechihin (and Plains peoples who also came to trade here) who lived in semi-permanent villages in this area. They periodically warred with them as well, taking loot and slaves from the villages in reprisal for various acts.

The Ieruganin divided themselves into numerous city-states with Anecho as the wealthiest and most powerful. Because of the threat of the Dena of the mountains, especially the Sechihin, the Ieruganin often allied into loose confederations and restricted warfare between each other to ceremonial and ritual battles. As in the Shilkh and other Chiyatsuru systems, city-state princes called yihmikhum (a loanword from ilmikhwm) competed for the support of lesser village leaders called t'aniti, who occasionally paid tribute or occasionally ruled independently.

The Ieruganin of the Ijikou Valley, separated by high mountains, held certain distinctions from the rest of their people. They spoke a distinct dialect of their language and held some unusual customs compared to the other Ieruganin. They centered around the city-state of Skuhnatsanas [16] which thanks to its isolated location never faced much competition from other cities, but instead faced only the Sechihin Dena as enemies. During the 11th century, Skuhnatsanas unified the majority of the Ijikou Valley and often ventured out onto the High Plains to hunt both bison and men. By the mid-12th century, this had become a yearly event given to great ceremony, where the Yihmikhum of Skuhnatsanas gathered the nobles for the hunt.

Thanks to this and other raiding, an area of almost 10,000 square kilometers in front of the Pass of the Weary Man, much to the delight of the Ijikou Ieruganin who could finally exploit the bison resources more fully. However, Skuhnatsanas never devoted much effort to seizing the pass, fearing other city-states might make war on them for monopolising the key route to the east. The Sechihin ignored their raids from this pass, although occasionally attacked them on the way back. They benefitted as well from this, as reduced competition in bison hunting boosted their own local profits and the people of the Plains still came to trade.

Skuhnatsanas held a good relationship with Yizihas [17], a city-state near where the Ijikou River flows into the Gangou. Both city-states profited greatly from this relationship, as Yizihas helped reduce the isolation of Skuhnatsanas by supplying quality trade goods while Skuhnatsanas contributed hardened warriors, protection, quality goats and reindeer, and valuable bison goods to Yizihas. This allowed Yizihas to become quite wealthy and dominant amongst the Ieruganin city-states, often taking part in Skuhnatsanas's campaigns but just as much holding them back so not to jeopardise both city's relations with other Ieruganin communities.

The Ieruganin who centered around the Dek'antel Plains and the city of Dek'antel held special significance [18]. They believed many events of religious importance occurred here in the Time of the Transformers, and beyond that, in this place they won the right to live in their country after claiming victory over the Ktanakha and Sechihin many centuries ago. The Yihmikhum of Dek'antel thought of himself as first among equals of all the lords of the Ieruganin. Many pilgrims and travelers came to Dek'antel seeking guardian spirit power or simply ancient wisdom. The Yihmikhum of Dek'antel used these travelers to increase his own wealth and manpower so as to make war on the Mountain Salish and Sechihin Dena to the south in order to plunder their herds, take slaves, and especially avert their own raids.

In the northern reaches of the Ieruganin country lay another sacred city, the city of Kuhtsutsinahn [19]. Meaning "at the head of the Great River", this city sat at the head of Lake Teguchi, the source of the Imaru River. It owed its prominence to a legendary journey the yihmikhum of the city took on the advice of the Weary One. Supposedly he traveled the entire length of the Imaru River, giving gifts of metal finery to every major ruler he met along the way. While no doubt legend, many Fusanians worshipped the Imaru River, and Kuhtsutsinahn received pilgrims (and their gifts and offerings) from as far afield as Katlamat since perhaps the 12th century, if not earlier. The city itself held the finest example of the stilt houses of the Ieruganin, situated amidst great fields of earthworks.

North of the lakes only a few villages of Ieruganin existed, mostly pastoralist communities that blended with neighbouring Hillmen villages, but this started to changed in the 11th century. The Ieruganin gradually spread northwest along the Great Trench in the direction they migrated from starting around the year 1050 as their growing population allowing them to effectively protect new lands for pastoralism and eventually full-scale agriculture with extensive building of earthworks. Previously this had proved impossible thanks to the hostile Hillmen tribes who made herding and hunting very difficult and settlement impossible in their land. The "frontier" moved about a kilometer a year up the trench. Noble families and anyone with ambition took their followers to plant new villages in the region.

As the frontier crept northward, prosperity trickled back as communities no longer needed to worry about Hillmen raids on their villages. At the same time, violence characterised this frontier, as both Hillmen and Ieruganin demonstrated remarkable cruelty toward each other. Slaves from both sides commonly wound up in markets downstream. Yet most interestingly for the Ieruganin, this made new routes through the mountains onto the Plains viable, a way to bypass the Sechihin and find new hunting grounds.

Isolated from the rest of Fusania by mountains and a level of cultural alienness, the Ieruganin entered the 12th century inward-looking toward everything outside the Great Trench yet constantly evolving. They sought to master the secrets of metalworking, to uncover richer and richer ore-bodies, and the prosper in their corner of Fusania. Isolated from much of the conflict and political developments elsewhere, this focus would lead the Ieruganin on the path to unprecedented wealth and with it, political importance they would never dream of.

Author's notes
---​

The Northern Chiyatsuru are a more heavily Dena-influened (and not to mention isolationist) version of the Southern Chiyatsuru. Yet the majority of the Dena in their region like the Negami Dena do not bother to blend with their subjects and thus we end up with interesting multiethnic confederations. They contrast with the other group described here, the Ieruganin, a Dena group who has absolutely blended in with the land they inhabit to the point where they are more akin to the peoples around them than anything else.

The Ieruganin have a few elements vaguely based on the Kutenai (the ceremonialism and a few loanwords/phonology of their language) but otherwise represent a heavily "Chiyatsuru"-ised Athabaskan culture. The placenames are a mix of calques of Kutenai names and original (and probably incorrect) Athabaskan toponymy. As I noted, they're culturally imitative of the Chiyatsuru in many ways, so aside from a few details much of their religious and social organisation would be very similar so I've glossed over it.

As always, thanks for reading.

[1] - Old Khakhlip is the Keatley Creek site near Lillooet, BC, which in the 1st millennia AD was among the largest communities in the region with over a thousand people. I am borrowing the name of the nearby community of Fountain for the place
[2] - Tl'q'amshin is Lytton, BC
[3] - Khwatzelabazi/Spolimtsin is Salmon Arm, BC
[4] - This Hleidli or T'kamluleps is Kamloops, BC. Hleidlitsu means "Yellow Hleidli", referring to it being the southern Hleidli as yellow symbolises south. Hleidli and variants simply means "confluence", and naturally it and cognates is a common place name in Athabaskan speaking areas (see "Hleadni", the Valley Tanne city-state)
[5] - Khakhtsa is Port Douglas, BC while Lake Hongyaku is Harrison Lake, the toponym borrowed from Halkomelem
[6] - Hleidlik'on/Red Hleidli/Nts'eqtseq'amshin is Prince George, BC, red symbolising north. The Nechakou River is the Nechako
[7] - Zakhtsin is Ashcroft, BC
[8] - Koiahum is Boston Bar, BC, Nsq'aqalten is Spences Bridge, BC, and Slahus is Seton Portage, BC. Setl' is Lillooet, BC.
[9] - That is, Halley's Comet, whose 1066 appearance was particularly brilliant
[10] - The Great Trench is the Rocky Mountain Trench while the Gangou River is the Kootenay River
[11] - Anecho is Kimberley, BC while Akamhas is Fort Steele, BC
[12] - The Sullivan Mine nearby Kimberley IOTL produced great amounts of lead, zinc, and silver, but also produced tin, an otherwise rare metal in the US and Canada.
[13] - Lake Teguchi is Columbia Lake in BC and Lake Tachuru is Lake Windermere just north of it. The Degateru Plains are the Tobacco Plains along the Montana/BC border
[14] - The Ijikou River is the Elk River of BC
[15] - The Pass of the Weary Man is Crowsnest Pass between BC and AB, one of the lowest and most useful mountain passes in that part of the world.
[16] - Skuhnatsanas is Sparwood, BC
[17] - Yizihas is Elko, BC
[18] - Dek'antel is Eureka, MT
[19] - Kuhtsutsinahn is Canal Flats, BC
 
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