Published on January 25, 2013 by Casey
Athabaskan myth about the trickster hero Raven and the origin of light.
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There once lived a very powerful and rich chief who had a beautiful young daughter. Somehow, the chief got the sun and the moon and he hung them up in his house. Because he had the sun and the moon, it became dark everywhere.
Because of the darkness, the people could not hunt or fish. When they went out to find wood to burn in their fires, they had to crawl around in the forest feeling with their hands until they found something which might be wood. Then they would bite it to make certain that it was indeed firewood.
Raven learned that the great chief had taken the sun and moon, so he went to his house to take it back. He asked the chief if he would return the sun and moon, but he would not. So the smart black bird devised a plan.
He saw how the chief’s daughter went to a small stream to get water every morning, so he hid near there and waited for her to return. When he saw her coming down the trail, he turned himself into a fingerling, a tiny fish, and jumped into the water. After the girl arrived, she filled a bucket with water. Then she dipped her drinking cup into the stream and Raven, disguised as a fingerling, quickly swam into it. She did not see Raven and drank the water.
Inside her body, Raven turned into a baby and so the girl became pregnant. After a short time the daughter gave birth to a baby boy which was really Raven. The baby grew fast and was soon a young boy. The grandfather was very fond of his grandson and would do anything for him. One day the boy began crying for something.
The chief asked him, “What do you want, grandson?”
The boy pointed to the sun and moon hanging from the ceiling. The chief decided to let him play with them if it would make him stop crying. So the boy took them outside and played with them for a while, but then he threw them high into the air. When the old chief ran out to see what had happened, Raven became himself again and flew away. Since that time there has been light.