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Thursday, 19 February 2015

MYTHS RECORDED IN ENGLISH AT SITKA 1. RAVEN

Hi dear friends and followers. Today we visit the Tlinglit people


The Tlinglit People inhabit the region around Sitka and Wrangell in the area known as the Alaska Panhandle, the extreme southern extent of Alaska. Their name by which they call themselves, Lingit, means "People of the Tide."

They are hunter/gatherers as well as fishermen. Halibut, shellfish, and seaweed traditionally provided food in the spring, while late spring and summer bring seal and salmon. Summer is a time for gathering wild and tame berries, such as salmonberry, soap berry, and currants. In fall, sea otters are hunted. Herring and eulachon are also important staples that can be eaten fresh or dried and stored for later use. Fish provide meat, oil, and eggs. Sea mammals, such as sea lions and sea otters, are used for food and clothing materials. In the forests near their homes, Tlingit hunted deer, bear, mountain goats and other small mammals.


Today's myth is about Raven, a recurring character in the mythologies of the peoples of northwest North America. Raven is analogous to the Coyote of th ePlains and Desert Peoples and Rabbit of those in the east: a trickster and an aid in the creation and population of the world. What you see here is but a portion of the entire myth of Raven that I have available to share with you. I can post more of it if you like. I hope that you enjoy Raven's trickery.

P.S. I tried pronouncing the names in this legend. I doubt that I did very well at it.

MYTHS RECORDED IN ENGLISH AT SITKA

1. RAVEN

No one knows just how the story of Raven really begins, so each starts from the point where he does know it. Here it was always begun in this way. Raven was first called Kit-ka'ositiyi-qâ-yît ("Son of Kit-ka'ositiyi-qâ"). When his son was born, Kit-ka'ositiyi-qâ tried to instruct him and train him in every way and, after he grew up, told him he would give him strength to make a world. After trying in all sorts of ways Raven finally succeeded. Then there was no light in this world, but it was told him that far up the Nass was a large house in which some one kept light just for himself.

Raven thought over all kinds of plans for getting this light into the world and finally he hit on a good one. The rich man living there had a daughter, and he thought, "I will make myself very small and drop into the water in the form of a small piece of dirt." The girl swallowed this dirt and became pregnant. When her time was completed, they made a hole for her, as was customary, in which she was to bring forth, and lined it with rich furs of all sorts. But the child did not wish to be born on those fine things. Then its grandfather felt sad and said, "What do you think it would be best to put into that hole? Shall we put in moss?" So they put moss inside and the baby was born on it. Its eyes were very bright and moved around rapidly.

Round bundles of varying shapes and sizes hung about on the walls of the house. When the child became a little larger it crawled around back of the people weeping continually, and as it cried it pointed to the bundles. This lasted many days. Then its grandfather said, "Give my grandchild what he is crying for. Give him that one hanging on the end. That is the bag of stars." So the child played with this, rolling it about on the floor back of the people, until suddenly he let it go up through the smoke hole. It went straight up into the sky and the stars scattered out of it, arranging themselves as you now see them. That was what he went there for.

Some time after this he began crying again, and he cried so much that it was thought he would die. Then his grandfather said, "Untie the next one and give it to him." He played and played with it around behind his mother. After a while he let that go up through the smoke hole also, and there was the big moon.

Now just one thing more remained, the box that held the daylight, and he cried for that. His eyes turned around and showed different colors, and the people began thinking that he must be something other than an ordinary baby. But it always happens that a grandfather loves his grandchild just as he does his own daughter, so the grandfather said, "Untie the last thing and give it to him." His grandfather felt very sad when he gave this to him. When the child had this in his hands, he uttered the raven cry, "Gâ," and flew out with it through the smoke hole. Then the person from whom he had stolen it said, "That old manuring raven has gotten all of my things."

Journeying on, Raven was told of another place, where a man had an everlasting spring of water. This man was named Petrel (GAnû'k). Raven wanted this water because there was none to drink in this world, but Petrel always slept by his spring, and he had a cover over it so as to keep it all to himself. Then Raven came in and said to him, "My brother-in-law, I have just come to see you. How are you?" He told Petrel of all kinds of things that were happening outside, trying to induce him to go out to look at them, but Petrel was too smart for him and refused.

When night came, Raven said, "I am going to sleep with you, brother-in-law." So they went to bed, and toward morning Raven heard Petrel sleeping very soundly. Then he went outside, took some dog manure and put it around Petrel's buttocks. When it was beginning to grow light, he said, "Wake up, wake up, wake up, brother-in-law, you have defecated all over your clothes." Petrel got up, looked at himself, and thought it was true, so he took his blankets and went outside. Then Raven went over to Petrel's spring, took off the cover and began drinking. After he had drunk up almost all of the water, Petrel came in and saw him. Then Raven flew straight up, crying "Gâ."

Before he got through the smoke hole, however, Petrel said, "My spirits up the smoke hole, catch him." So Raven stuck there, and Petrel put pitchwood on the fire under him so as to make a quantity of smoke. Raven was white before that time, but the smoke made him of the color you find him to-day. Still he did not drop the water. When the smoke-hole spirits let him go, he flew around the nearest point and rubbed himself all over so as to clear off as much of the soot as possible.

This happened somewhere about the Nass, and afterwards he started up this way. First he let some water fall from his mouth and made the Nass. By and by he spit more out and made the Stikine. Next he spit out Taku river, then Chilkat, then Alsek, and all the other large rivers. The small drops that came out of his mouth made the small salmon creeks.

After this Raven went on again and came to a large town where were people who had never seen daylight. They were out catching eulachon in the darkness when he came to the bank opposite, and he asked them to take him across but they would not. Then he said to them, "If you don't come over I will have daylight break on you." But they answered, "Where are you from? Do you come from far up the Nass where lives the man who has daylight?" 

At this Raven opened his box just a little and shed so great a light on them that they were nearly thrown down. He shut it quickly, but they quarreled with him so much across the creek that he became angry and opened the box completely, when the sun flew up into the sky. Then those people who had sea-otter or fur-seal skins, or the skins of any other sea animals, went into the ocean, while those who had land-otter, bear, or marten skins, or the skins of any other land -animals, went into the woods [becoming the animals whose skins they wore].

Raven came to another place where a crowd of boys were throwing fat at one another. When they hit him with a piece he swallowed it. After a while he took dog's manure and threw at the boys who became scared, ran away, and threw more fat at him. He consumed all in this way, and started on again.

After a while he came to an abandoned camp where lay a piece of jade (s!û) half buried in the ground, on which some design had been pecked. This he dug up. Far out in the bay he saw a large spring salmon jumping about and wanted to get it but did not know how. Then he stuck his stone into the ground and put eagle down upon the head designed thereon. The next time the salmon jumped, he said, "See here, spring salmon jumping out there, do you know what this green stone is saying to you? It is saying, 'You thing with dirty, filthy back, you thing with dirty, filthy gills, come ashore here.'"

Raven suddenly wanted to defecate and started off. Just then the big spring salmon also started to come ashore, so Raven said, "Just wait, my friend, don't come ashore yet for I have some business to attend to." So the salmon went out again. Afterward Raven took a piece of wild celery (yâ'naet), and, when the salmon did come ashore, he struck it with this and killed it. Because Raven made this jade talk to the salmon, people have since made stone axes, picks, and spears out of it.

Then, Raven, carrying along the spring salmon, got all kinds of birds, little and big, as his servants. When he came to a good place to cook his fish he said to all of them, "Here, you young fellows, go after skunk cabbage. We will bury this in the ground and roast it." After they had brought it down, however, he said, "I don't want any of that, My wife has defecated all over that, and I will not use it. Go back and pass over two mountains." While they were gone, Raven put all of the salmon except one fat piece cut from around the "navel" a which is usually cooked separately, into the skunk cabbage and buried it in the fire. Before they returned, he dug this up and ate it, after which he put the bones back into the fire and covered them up.

Then the birds at last came back he said to them, "I have been across two mountains myself. Now it is time to dig it up. Dig it out." Then all crowded around the fire and dug, but, when they got it up, there was nothing there but bones.

By and by the birds dressed one another in different ways so that they might be named from their dress. They tied the hair of the blue jay up high with a string, and they added a long tail to the ts!êgênî', another crested bird. Then they named one another. Raven let out the ts!êgênî' and told him that when the salmon comes he must call its slime unclean and stay high up until the salmon are a all gone.

Now Raven started off with the piece of salmon belly and came to a place where Bear and his wife lived. He entered and said, "My aunt's son, is this you? The piece of salmon he had buried behind a little point. Then Bear told him to sit down and said, "I will roast some dry salmon for you." So he began to roast it. After it was done, he set a dish close to the fire and slit the back of his hands with a knife so as to let grease run out for Raven to eat on his salmon. After he had fixed the salmon, he cut a piece of flesh out from in front of his thighs and put it into the dish. That is why bears are not fat in that place.
Now Raven wanted to give a dinner to Bear in return, so he, too, took out a piece of fish, roasted it, set out the dish Bear had used, close to the fire and slit up the back of his hand, thinking that grease would run out of it. But instead nothing but white bubbles came forth. Although he knew he could not do it, he tried in every way.

Then Raven asked Bear, "Do you know of any halibut fishing ground out here?" He said "No."' Raven said, "Why! what is the use of staying here by this salt water, if you do not know of any fishing ground? I know a good fishing ground right out here called Just-on-the-edge-of-kelp (Gî'ck!îcuwAnyî'). There are always halibut swimming there, mouth up, ready for the hook."

By and by Raven got the piece of fish he had hidden behind the point and went out to the bank in company with Bear and Cormorant. Cormorant sat in the bow, Bear in the middle, and, because he knew where the fishing ground was, Raven steered. When they arrived Raven stopped the canoe all at once. He said to them, "Do you see that mountain, Was!ê'tî-câ? a When you sight that mountain, that is where you want to fish." After this Raven began to fill the canoe with halibut. So Bear asked him, "What do you use for bait anyhow, my friend?" Raven replied, "I use my claws." Bear said the raven, "Can I use mine too?" But the raven said, "Do not do it, lest at any time they are severely worn down." A little later, the bear, he said, lamenting his loss of halibut, "Cut them out." Then the raven, whetting his knife, he said, "Sit in that seat." Afterwards raven cut them off, the bear dashed, groaning and dying around the boat, and fell into the water at last, with a sigh.

After a while Raven said to Cormorant; "There is a louse coming down on the side of your head. Come here. Let me take it off." When he came close to him, he picked it off. Then he said, "Open your mouth so that I can put it on your tongue." When he did open his mouth, however, Raven reached far back and pulled his tongue out. He did this because he did not want Cormorant to tell about what he had done. He told Cormorant to speak, but Cormorant made only a gabbling noise. "That is how young fellows ought to speak," said Raven. Then Raven towed the dead body of the bear to behind the point and carried it ashore there. Afterwards he went to Bear's wife and began to take out his halibut. He said to the female bear, "My father's sister, cut out all the stomachs of the halibut and roast them." So she went down on the beach to cut them out. While she was working on the rest of the halibut, he cooked the stomachs and filled them with hot rocks. 

Then he went down and said to her, "You better come up. I have cooked all those stomachs for you. You better wash your hands, come up, and eat." After that Cormorant came in and tried to tell what had happened but made only a gabbling sound. Raven said to the bear, "Do you know what that fellow is talking about? He is saying that there were lots of halibut out where we fished. Every time we tried to get a canoe load they almost turned us over." When she was about to eat he said, "People never chew what I get. They always swallow it whole." Before she began she asked Raven where her husband was, and Raven said, "Somehow or other he caught nothing, so we landed him behind the point. He is cutting alders to make alder hooks. He is sitting there yet."


After the bear had swallowed all of the food she began to feel uneasy in her stomach, and Raven said to Cormorant, "Run outside quickly and get her some water." Then she drank a great quantity of water, and the things in her stomach began to boil harder and harder. Said Raven, "Run out Cormorant." He did so, and Raven ran after him. Then the female bear ran about inside the house grabbing at everything and finally fell dead. Then Raven skinned the female bear, after which he went around the point and did the same thing to the male. While he was busy there Cormorant came near him, but he said, "Keep away, you small Cormorant," and struck him on the buttocks with his hand saying, "Go out and stay on those rocks." Ever since then the cormorants have been there. Raven stayed in that Place until he had consumed both of the bears.
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This is not the end of the legend of Raven. There is a lot more where I found this.

Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. have a great Week. 
ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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