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The Origin of Light

             Native American Lore 

    In the early times, there was only darkness; there was no light at all. At the edge of
    the sea a woman lived with her father. One time she went out to get some water. As
    she was scraping the snow, she saw a feather floating toward her. She opened her
    mouth and the feather floated in and she swallowed it. From that time she was

    Then she had a baby. It's mouth was a raven's bill. The woman tried hard to find
    toys for her child. In her father's house was hanging a bladder that was blown up.
    This belonged to the woman's father. Now the baby, whose name was tulugaak
    (Raven), pointed at it and cried for it. The woman did not wish to give it to him but
    he cried and cried. At last she gave in and took the bladder down from the wall and
    let the baby play with it. But in playing with it, he broke it. Immediately, it began to
    get light. Now there was light in the world, and darkness, too.

    When the woman's father came home, he scolded his daughter for taking the
    bladder down from the wall and giving it to the child. And when it was light,
    tulugaak had disappeared.


                 Ravens Great Adventure

                                  Native American Lore

    The Innu carve strange and beautiful figures, representing people, animals, birds,
    fish, and supernatural characters, then paint them with bright colors. The tallest
    red cedar trees are selected for totem poles, and are used for landmarks as well as
    illustrating the legends told from generation to generation.

    On one of these poles was carved a stunning Raven, but he had no beak!

    The Raven in Alaska was no ordinary bird. He had remarkable powers and could
    change into whatever form he wished. He could change from a bird to a man, and
    could not only fly and walk, but could swim underwater as fast as any fish.

    One day, Raven took the form of a little, bent over old man to walk through a
    forest. He wore a long white beard and walked slowly. After a while, Raven felt
    hungry. As he thought about this, he came to the edge of the forest near a village on
    the beach. There, many people were fishing for halibut.

    In a flash, Raven thought of a scheme. He dived into the sea and swam to the spot
    where the fishermen dangled their hooks. Raven gobbled their bait, swimming from
    one hook to another. Each time Raven stole bait, the fishermen felt a tug on their
    lines. When the lines were pulled in, there was neither fish nor bait.

    But Raven worked his trick once too often. When Houskana, an expert fisherman,
    felt a tug, he jerked his line quickly, hooking something heavy. Raven's jaw had
    caught on the hook! While Houskana tugged on his line, Raven pulled in the
    opposite direction. Then Raven grabbed hold of some rocks at the bottom of the
    sea and called, "O rocks, please help me!" But the rocks paid no attention.

    Because of his great pain, Raven said to his jaw, "Break off, O jaw, for I am too
    tired." His jaw obeyed, and it broke off.

    Houskana pulled in his line immediately. On his hook was a man's jaw with a long
    white beard ! It looked horrible enough to scare anyone. Houskana and the other
    fishermen were very frightened, because they thought the jaw might belong to some
    evil spirit. They picked up their feet and ran as fast as they could to the chief's

    Raven came out of the water and followed the fishermen. Though he was in great
    pain for lack of his jaw, no one noticed anything wrong because he covered the
    lower part of his face with his blanket.

    The chief and the people examined the jaw that was hanging on the halibut hook. It
    was handed from one to another, and finally to Raven who said, "Oh, this is a
    wonder to behold!" as he threw back his blanket and replaced his jaw.

    Raven performed his magic so quickly that no one had time to see what was
    happening. As soon as Raven's jaw was firmly in place again, he turned himself into
    a bird and flew out through the smoke hole of the chief's house. Only then did the
    people begin to realize it was the trickster Raven who had stolen their bait and
    been hooked on Houskana's fishing line.

    On the totem pole, Raven was carved, not as the old man, but as himself without his
    beak, a reminder of how the old man lost his jaw.


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Page created by;Cherokee Wolf
May 14. 1999