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     I was at an art show recently. It was a local show so we got to see a lot of friends. It was a great chance to catch up with so many people. I was visiting with a Tlingit couple when they asked me where my Raven pictures were. I had none, North America's largest songbird wasn't a critter I had an interest in.  It was an oversight on my part.  Tlingit's and their culture are pervasive in our region.  Raven is the dominant figure in Tlingit mythology and is the name of one of the largest clans in the area.

     Raven is the cultural hero of Tlingit legends. He is a revered and benevolent transformer figure who helps the people and shapes their world for them. At the same time, he is a trickster.  Many Tlingit stories about Raven have to do with his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior getting him into trouble.

     In the Tlingit origin story Raven steals the stars, the moon, and the sun from Naas-sháki Yéil (or Naas-sháki Shaan), the Raven (or Old Man) at the Head of the Nass River. The Old Man is very rich and owns three legendary boxes that contain the stars, the moon, and the sun; Raven wants these for himself (various reasons are given, such as wanting to admire himself in the light, wanting light to find food easily, etc.). Raven transforms himself into a hemlock needle and drops into the water cup of the Old Man's daughter while she is out picking berries. She becomes pregnant with him and gives birth to him as a baby boy.

      The Old Man dotes over his grandson, as is wont of most Tlingit grandparents. Raven cries incessantly until the Old Man gives him the Box of Stars to pacify him. Raven plays with it for a while, then opens the lid and lets the stars escape through the chimney into the sky. Later Raven begins to cry for the Box of the Moon, and after much fuss the Old Man gives it to him but not before stopping up the chimney. Raven plays with it for a while and then rolls it out the door, where it escapes into the sky. Finally Raven begins crying for the Box of the Sun, and after much fuss finally the Old Man breaks down and gives it to him. Raven knows well that he cannot roll it out the door or toss it up the chimney because he is carefully watched. So he finally waits until everyone is asleep and then changes into his bird form, grasps the sun in his beak and flies up and out the chimney. He takes it to show others who do not believe that he has the sun, so he opens the box to show them and then it flies up into the sky where it has been ever since.

Source: http://www.native-languages.org/tlingit-legends.htm    


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