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´╗┐Title: A Treasury of Eskimo Tales
Author: Bayliss, Clara Kern, 1848-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Treasury of Eskimo Tales" ***

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)





    _Author of "A Treasury of Indian Tales,"
    "Old Man Coyote," etc._



    COPYRIGHT, 1922,
    Second Printing

    Printed in the U. S. A.



The Central Eskimo live away up north in that great American
archipelago which lies between Hudson Bay, Baffin Bay, and the Arctic
Ocean; an archipelago in which the islands are so large, so numerous,
and so irregular in outline that, as one looks at a map of them, he
could fancy they were "chunks" of the continent which had been broken
to pieces by some huge iceberg that bumped into it.

The land is ice-bound during so much of the year that the inhabitants
cannot depend upon getting a living by the cultivation of the soil,
and have to subsist almost entirely upon meat which they get from
reindeer, seal, bear, whale, and walrus.

In summer their clothing is of sealskin and fishskin; and in winter it
is of the thicker reindeer hides. Their life is a hard one owing to
the rigorous climate, and they make it harder by their superstitions,
for diseases are supposed to be cured by charms and incantations of
the shaman or priest; and everything in the way of hunting, fishing,
cooking, or of clothing themselves must be done in a prescribed way or
it is "taboo" or "hoodoo" as the negroes say. When you read "The Baby
Eskimo" you will see just a tiny bit of the hardships, but I should
not like to tell you how much more terrible a time he might have had,
if he had happened to be a girl baby.

By referring to the Table of Contents you will note that the first
group of tales were told by the Central Eskimo. The second group were
derived from the Eskimo living along Bering Strait, to the west; and
it is interesting to compare many of these folk tales along similar

The writer is indebted to the Sixth Ethnological Report, issued by the
U. S. Government, for many of the legends found in the Central Eskimo
group; and to the Eighteenth Report for many of those from Bering
Strait. She wishes to express her thanks for this invaluable and
unique material.


  CHAPTER                                                    PAGE


       I. THE BABY ESKIMO                                       1

      II. KIVIUNG                                               3

     III. THE GIANT                                            12

      IV. KALOPALING                                           14

       V. THE WOMAN MAGICIAN                                   18

      VI. THE BIRD WIFE                                        23

     VII. THE SPIRIT OF THE SINGING HOUSE                      28

    VIII. THE TORNIT                                           30

      IX. THE FLIGHT TO THE MOON                               33

       X. WHAT THE MAN IN THE MOON DID                         37

      XI. THE GUEST                                            41

     XII. THE ORIGIN OF THE NARWHAL                            43


    XIII. WHAT THE ESKIMO BELIEVES                             49

     XIV. THE FIRST MAN                                        52

      XV. THE FIRST WOMAN                                      57

     XVI. OTHER MEN                                            61

    XVII. MAN'S FIRST GRIEF                                    65

          TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA                             69

     XIX. TAKING AWAY THE SUN                                  76

      XX. THE DWARF PEOPLE                                     82

          OF ST. MICHAEL                                       85

    XXII. WHY THE MOON WAXES AND WANES                         87

   XXIII. CHUNKS OF DAYLIGHT                                   90

    XXIV. THE RED BEAR                                         95

     XXV. THE LAST OF THE THUNDERBIRDS                         99

    XXVI. RAVEN MAKES AN OCEAN VOYAGE                         103

   XXVII. THE RED SKELETON                                    108

  XXVIII. THE MARMOT AND THE RAVEN                            111

    XXIX. ORIGIN OF THE WINDS                                 114

     XXX. RAVEN AND THE GEESE                                 120

          SOMEONE IF IT TRIES                                 127


  He summoned his mascot which was a huge
      white bear (7)                               _Frontispiece_


  He lifted the boulder as if it had been a pebble             39

  He whipped on his magic coat and became a raven              93

  A gale swept in bringing reindeer, trees and bushes         117



The little Eskimo away up in the northern part of British America has
a pretty hard time of it, as you may know when you think how cold it
is there.

He is born in a snow hut, and when he is but a few hours old he is
carried on his mother's back out upon the ice, and around and around
in circles and after a while through deep snow back to the hut. If
that does not kill him, the names he gets are enough to do it; for he
is given the names of all the people who have died in the village
since the last baby was born. He sometimes has a string of names long
enough to weigh any baby down. Worse than that, if one of his
relatives dies before he is four years old, that name is added to the
rest and is the one by which he is called.

Worse still, if he falls sick he is given a dog's name, so that the
goddess Sedna will look kindly upon him. Then, all his life, he must
wear a dog's harness over his inner jacket. If he should die, his
mother must rush out of the house with him at once. If she does not do
so, everything in the house must be thrown away or destroyed, just as
is done when a grown person dies in a furnished house.

For a whole year his mother must wear a cap if she steps outside her
door, and she must carry his boots about with her. After three days
she goes to his tomb and walks around it three times, going around to
the left, because that is the way the sun travels. While she walks,
she talks to the dead child and promises to bring him food. A year
after his death she must do this again, and she must do the same thing
whenever she happens to pass near the grave.

Now we shall tell you some of the tales which the Eskimo mothers
relate to their children. The first one is about Kiviung, the Rip Van
Winkle of the Eskimos.



An old woman lived with her grandson in a small hut. She had no
husband to take care of her and the boy, and they were very poor. The
lad's clothing was made of the skins of birds which they caught in
snares. Whenever the boy came out of the hut to play, the other boys
would call, "Here comes the bird boy! Fly away, birdie!" and the men
would laugh at him and tear his clothes.

Only one man whose name was Kiv-i-ung, was kind to the boy and tried
to protect him from the others, but they would not stop. The lad often
came to his grandmother crying, and she would console him and promise
him a new garment, as soon as they could get the skins.

She begged the men to stop teasing the child and tearing his clothes,
but they only laughed at her. At last she became angry and said to the
boy, "I will avenge you on your tormentors. I can do it by making use
of my power to conjure."

She poured water on the mud floor and said, "Step into this puddle,
and do not be frightened at anything that happens."

He stepped into it, and immediately the earth opened and he sank out
of sight, but the next moment he rose near the beach and swam about as
a young seal with a wonderfully smooth, shining skin.

Some one saw him and called out that there was a yearling seal close
to shore. The men all ran to their kayaks eager to secure the
beautiful creature. But the boy-seal swam lustily away as his
grandmother had told him to do, and the men continued to pursue him.
Whenever he rose to the surface to breathe, he took care to come up
behind the kayaks, where he would splash and dabble in order to lure
them on. As soon as he had attracted their attention and they had
turned to pursue him, he would dive and come up farther out in the
sea. The men were so interested in catching him that they did not
observe how they were being led far out into the ocean and out of
sight of the land.

It was now that the grandmother put forth her powers. Suddenly a
fierce gale arose; the sea foamed and roared and the waves upset their
frail vessels and plunged them under the surface. When they were
drowned, the little seal changed back into a boy and walked home over
the water without wetting his feet. There was no one left now to
torment him.

Kiv-i-ung, who had never abused the boy, had gone out with the rest,
but his kayak did not capsize. Bravely he strove against the wild
waves, and drifted far away from the place where the others had gone
down. There was a dense fog and he could not tell in which direction
to go.

He rowed for many days not knowing whither he was going, and then one
day he spied through the mists a dark mass which he took to be land.
As he pulled toward it the sea became more and more tempestuous, and
he saw that what he had supposed to be a rocky cliff on an island was
a wild, black sea with a raging whirlpool in the midst of it.

He had come so close that it was only by the utmost exertion he
escaped being drawn into the whirlpool and carried down. He put forth
all his strength and at last got away where the waves were less like
mountains. But he had to be constantly on the alert, for at one moment
his frail craft was carried high up on the crest of billows and the
next it was plunged into a deep trough of the sea.

Again he saw a dark mass looming up, and rowed toward it hoping to
find land, but again he was deceived, for it was another whirlpool
which made the sea rise in gigantic waves. At last the wind subsided,
and the sea became less rough, though the whitecaps still frothed
around him. The fog lifted, and at a great distance he saw land, real
land this time.

He went toward it, and after rowing along the coast for some distance
he spied a stone house with a light in it. You may be sure he was
delighted to come near a human habitation again. He landed and entered
the house. There was no one in it but one old woman. She received him
kindly and helped him to pull off his boots, and she hung his wet
stockings on the frame above the lamp. Then she said:

"I will make a fire in the next room and cook a good supper."

Kiviung thought she was a very good woman, and he was so hungry that
he could scarcely wait for the supper. It seemed to him that she was a
long time preparing it. When his stockings were dry he tried to take
them from the frame in order to put them on. But as soon as he touched
the frame it rose up out of his reach. He tried in vain several times,
and each time the frame rose up. He called the woman in and asked her
to give him his stockings.

"Take them yourself," she said. "There they are; there they are," and
went out again.

Kiviung was surprised at the change in her manner. He tried once more
to take hold of his stockings, but with no better result. Calling the
woman in again, he explained his difficulty and said:

"Please hand me my boots and stockings; they slip away from me."

"Sit down where I sat when you entered my house; then you can get
them," she replied, and left the room.

He tried once more, but the frame arose as before and he could not
reach it. He knew now that she was a wicked woman, and he suspected
that the big fire she had made was prepared so she could roast and eat

What should he do? He had seen that she could work magic. He knew that
he could not escape unless he could surpass her in her own arts. He
summoned his mascot, which was a huge white bear. At once there was a
low growl from under the house. The woman did not hear it at first,
but Kiviung kept on conjuring the spirit and it rose right up through
the floor roaring loudly. Then the old witch rushed in trembling with
fear and gave Kiviung what he had asked for.

"Here are your boots," she cried; "here are your slippers; here are
your stockings. I will help you put them on."

But Kiviung would not stay any longer with the horrid creature, and
dared not wait to put on his stockings and boots. He rushed out of the
house and had barely gotten out of the door when it clapped violently
together, catching the tail of his jacket, which was torn off. Without
stopping to look behind, he ran to his kayak and paddled away.

The old woman quickly recovered from her fear and came out swinging a
glittering knife which she attempted to throw at him. He was so
frightened that he nearly upset his kayak, but he steadied it and
arose to his feet, lifting his spear.

"I shall kill you with my spear," he cried.

At that the old woman fell down in terror and broke her knife which
she had made by magic out of a thin slab of ice.

He traveled on for many days, always keeping near the shore. At last
he came to another hut, and again a lamp was burning inside. His
clothing was wet and he was hungry, so he landed and went into the
house. There he found something very strange: a woman living all alone
with her daughter! Yet the daughter was married and they kept the
son-in-law in the house. But he was a log of driftwood which they had
found on the beach. It had four branches like legs and arms. Every day
about the time of low water they carried it to the beach and when the
tide came in, it swam away. When night came it returned with eight
large seals, two being fastened to each bough.

Thus the log provided food for its wife, her mother, and Kiviung, and
they lived in abundance. Kiviung became rested and refreshed after his
weary travels, and he enjoyed this life so well that he remained for a
long time. One day, however, after they had launched the log as they
had always done, it floated away and never came back.

Then Kiviung went sealing every day for himself and the women, and he
was so successful that they wished him to remain with them always. But
he had not forgotten the home he had left long ago, and meant to
return to it. He was anxious to lay in a good stock of mittens to keep
his hands warm on the long journey, and each night he pretended to
have lost the pair he wore, and the women would make him another pair
from the skin of the seals he brought home. He hid them all in the
hood of his jacket.

Then one day, he, too, floated off with the tide and never came back.
He rowed on for many days and nights, always following the shore.
During the terrible storm he had been out of sight of land all he ever
cared to be.

At last he came again to a hut where a lamp was burning, and went to
it. But this time he thought it would be well to see who was inside
before entering. He therefore climbed up to the window and looked
through the peep-hole. On the bed sat a woman whose head and whose
hands looked like big yellow-and-black spiders. She was sewing; and
when she saw the dark shadow before the window she at first thought it
was a cloud, but when she looked up and beheld a man, she grasped a
big knife and arose, looking very angry. Kiviung waited to see no
more. He felt a sudden longing for home, and hastily went on his way.

Again he traveled for days and nights. At last he came to a land which
seemed familiar, and as he went farther he recognized his own country.
He was very glad to see some boats ahead of him, and when he stood up
and waved and shouted to them they came to meet him. They had been on
a whaling excursion and were towing a large dead whale to their

In the bow of one of the boats stood a stout young man who had
harpooned the whale. He looked at Kiviung keenly and Kiviung looked at
him. Then, of a sudden, they recognized each other. It was Kiviung's
own son whom he had left a small boy, but who was now become a grown
man and a great hunter.

Kiviung's wife was delighted to see him whom she had supposed dead. At
first she seemed glad and then she seemed troubled. She had taken a
new husband, but after thinking it over she returned to Kiviung, and
they were very happy.



In days of old an enormous man lived with other members of the Inuit
tribe in a village beside a large inlet. He was so tall that he could
straddle the inlet, and he used to stand that way every morning and
wait for the whales to pass beneath him. As soon as one came along he
used to scoop it up just as easily as other men scoop up a minnow. And
he ate the whole whale just as other men eat a small fish.

One day all the natives manned their boats to catch a whale that was
spouting off the shore; but he sat idly by his hut. When the men had
harpooned the whale and were having a hard time to hold it and keep
their boats from capsizing, he rose and strolled down to the shore and
scooped the whale and the boats from the water and placed them on the

Another time when he was tired of walking about, he lay down on a high
hill to take a nap.

"You would better be careful," said the people, "for a couple of huge
bears have been seen near the village."

"Oh, I don't care for them. If they come too near me, throw some
stones at me to waken me," he said with a yawn.

The bears came, and the people threw the stones and grabbed their
spears. The giant sat up.

"Where are they? I see no bears. Where are they?" he asked.

"There! There! Don't you see them?" cried the Inuit.

"What! those little things! They are not worth all this bustle. They
are nothing but small foxes." And he crushed one between his fingers,
and put the other into the eyelet of his boot to strangle it.



Ka-lo-pa-ling is a strange being who lives in the northern seas. His
body is like that of a man except that his feet are very large and
look like sealskin muffs. His clothing is made of the skins of eider
ducks and, as their bellies are white and their backs are black, his
clothes are spotted all over. He cannot speak, but cries all the time,
"Be, be! Be, be!"

His jacket has an enormous hood which is an object of fear to the
Inuit, for if a kayak upsets and the boatman is drowned, Ka-lo-pa-ling
grabs him and puts him into the hood.

The Inuit say that in olden times there were a great many of these
creatures, and they often sat in a row along the ice floes, like a
flock of penguins. Their numbers have become less and less, till now
there are but a few left.

Anyone standing on shore may see them swimming under water very
rapidly, and occasionally they rise to the surface as if to get air.
They make a great noise by splashing with their feet and arms as they
swim. In summer they like to come out and bask on the rocks, but in
winter they sit along the edge of the ice or else stay under water.

They often chase the hunters, so the most courageous of the men try to
kill them whenever they can get near enough. When the Kalopaling sits
sleeping, the hunter comes up very cautiously and throws a walrus
harpoon into him. Then he shuts his eyes tight until the Kalopaling is
dead, otherwise the hunter's boat would be capsized and he be drowned.
They dare not eat the flesh of the creatures, for it is poisonous; but
the dogs eat it.

One time an old woman and her grandson were living alone in a small
hut. They had no men to hunt for them and they were very poor. Once in
a while, but not often, some of the Inuit took pity on them and
brought them seal's meat, and blubber for their lamp.

One day the boy was so hungry that he cried aloud. His grandmother
told him to be quiet, but he cried the harder. She became vexed with
him and cried out, "Ho, Kalopaling, come and take this fretful boy

At once the door opened and Kalopaling came hobbling in on his clumsy
feet, which were made for swimming and not for walking. The woman put
the boy into the large hood, in which he was completely hidden. Then
the Kalopaling disappeared as suddenly as he had come.

By and by the Inuit caught more seals than usual and gave her plenty
of meat. Then she was sorry that she had given her grandson away, and
was more than ever sorry that it was to Kalopaling she had given him.
She thought how much of the time he must have to stay in the water
with that strange man-like animal. She wept about it, and begged the
Inuit to help her get him back.

Some of them said they had seen the boy sitting by a crack in the ice,
playing with a whip of seaweed, but none of them knew how to get him.
Finally one of the hunters and his wife said, "We may never succeed,
but we will see what we can do."

The water had frozen into thick ice, and the rise and fall of the tide
had broken long cracks not far from the shore. Every day the boy used
to rise out of the water and sit alongside the cracks, playing, and
watching the fish swim down below.

Kalopaling was afraid someone might carry the boy away, so he fastened
him to a string of seaweed, the other end of which he kept in his
hand. The hunter and his wife watched for the boy to come out, and
when they saw him they went toward him. But the boy did not want to go
back to live with his grandmother, and as they came near he called

"Two men are coming; one with a double jacket, the other with a
foxskin jacket."

Then Kalopaling pulled on the string and the boy disappeared into the

Some time after this the hunter and his wife saw the boy again. But
before they could lay hold of him the lad sang out:

"Two men are coming."

And again Kalopaling pulled the string and the boy slipped into the

However, the hunter and his wife did not give up trying. They went
near the crack and hid behind the big blocks of ice which the tide had
piled up. The next time when the boy had just come out they sprang
forward and cut the rope before he had time to give the alarm. Then
away they went with him to their hut.

As the lad did not wish to return to his grandmother, he stayed with
the hunter, and as he grew to be a man he learned all that his new
father could teach him, and became the most famous hunter of the



Long ago, in Aggo, a country where nobody lives nowadays, there were
two large houses standing far apart. In each of these houses many
families lived together. In the summer the people in the two houses
went in company to hunt deer and had a good time together. When fall
came they returned to their separate houses. The names of the houses
were Quern and Exaluq.

One summer it happened that the men from Quern had killed many deer,
while those from Exaluq had caught but a few. The latter said to each
other, "They are not fair; they shoot before we have a chance;" and
they became very angry.

"Let us kill them," said one.

"Yes, let us kill them, but let us wait till the end of the season,
and then we can take all the game they have in their storehouse," said
the others. For the game was packed in snow and ice and was taken home
on dog sledges when the hunting was over.

When it came time to go home both parties agreed to go on a certain
day to the storehouses and pack up the game ready to start early in
the morning. This was the time for which the men of Exaluq had been

They started off all together with their sledges, but when they got a
long distance from the camp and very near to the storehouse, those
from Exaluq suddenly fell upon the others and slew them, for the men
from Quern had never suspected that there was any ill-feeling.

Fearing that if the dogs went back to camp without their masters, the
women and children would guess what had happened, they killed the dogs
also. When they returned, they told the women that their husbands had
separated from them and had gone off over a hill, and they did not
know what had become of them.

Now one of the young men had married a girl from Quern, and he went to
her house that night as usual, and she received him kindly, for she
believed what she had heard about the men of her party straying off.
She and all the other women thought the men would soon find their way
back, as they had hunted in these parts so long that they knew the

But in the house was the girl's little brother who had seen the
husband come in; and after everybody was asleep he heard the spirits
of the murdered men calling and he recognized their voices. They told
him what had happened, and asked the boy to kill the young man in
revenge for their deaths. So he crept from under the bed and thrust a
knife into the young man's breast.

Then he awakened all the women and children in the great row of huts
and told them that the spirits of the dead men had come to him and
told of their murder, and had ordered him to avenge them by killing
the young man.

"Oh, what shall we do? What shall we do?" they cried. "They have
killed our men and they will kill us!" They were terribly frightened.

"We must fly from here before the men from Exaluq awaken and learn
that the young man is slain in revenge," said one of the old women.

"But how can we fly? Our dogs are dead, and we cannot travel fast
enough to escape."

"I will attend to that," said the old woman. In her hut was a litter
of pups, and as she was a conjurer, she said to them, "Grow up at
once." She had no fairy wand to wave over them, but she waved a stick,
and after waving it once the dogs[1] were half-grown. She waved it
again, saying, "Be full-grown instantly;" and they were.

They harnessed the dogs at once, and in order to deceive their enemies
they left everything in the huts and even left their lights burning,
so that when the men arose in the morning they would think that they,
too, had arisen and were dressing.

When it had come full daylight next morning the men of Exaluq wondered
why the young man did not come back to them, and presently they went
to find out. They peeked into the spy-hole of the window and saw the
lamps burning, but no people inside the hut. They discovered the body
of the dead man, and then when they looked they saw the tracks of

They wondered very much how the women could have gone away on sledges,
since they had no dogs, and they feared some other people had helped
them to get off. They hastily harnessed their own dogs and started in
pursuit of the fugitives.

The women whipped their dogs and journeyed rapidly, but the pursuers
had older and tougher animals and were likely to overtake them soon.
They became very much frightened, fearing that they would all be
killed in revenge for the death of the young man.

When the sledge of the men drew near and the women and children saw
that they could not escape, the boy who had slain the man said to the
old woman:

"The spirits of our murdered men are calling to us to cut the ice.
Cannot you cut it?"

"I think I can," she answered, and she slowly drew her first finger
across the path of the pursuers, muttering a magic charm as she did

The ice gave a terrific crack, and the water came gushing through the
crevasse. They sped on, and presently she drew another line with her
finger, and another crack opened and the ice between the two cracks
broke up and the floe began to move.

The men, dashing ahead with all speed, could scarcely stop their dog
team in time to escape falling into the open water. The floe was so
wide and so long that it was impossible for them to cross, and thus
the women and children were saved by the art of their conjurer.


[1] The actual statement both here and on page 39 is that the woman
and the Man in the Moon beat the pups and the boy with sticks to make
them grow. Is not our birthday beating, "one for each year and one to
grow on" a survival of this ancient superstition?



Itajung, one of the Inuit tribe, was vexed because a young woman would
not marry him, so he left his home and traveled far away into the land
of the birds. He came to a small lake in which many geese were
swimming. On the shore he saw a great many boots. He cautiously crept
near and stole a pair and hid them.

Presently the birds came out of the water, and finding a pair of boots
gone they were alarmed, and quickly forming into two long lines with
their leader at the point where the lines met, they flew away crying,
"_Honk! Honk! Honk!_"

But one of the flock remained behind crying, "I want my boots! I want
my boots!"

Itajung came forth from his hiding-place and said, "I will give you
your boots if you will become my wife."

"That I will not do," she replied.

"Very well," he said, and turned around to go away.

"I don't want to, but I will be your wife if you will bring back my
boots," she called.

He came back and gave her the boots, and when she put them on she was
changed into a woman.

They walked away together, and wandered down to the seaside and, as
she liked to live near the water, they settled in a large village by
the sea. Here they lived for several years and had a son. Itajung
became a highly respected man, for he was by far the best whaler in
all the Inuit tribe.

One day they killed a whale and were busy cutting it up and carrying
the meat and blubber to their homes. Many of the women were helping,
but though Itajung was working very hard, his wife stood lazily
looking on.

"Come and help us," he called to her.

"My food is not from the sea," she replied. "My food is from the land.
I will not eat the meat of a whale; neither will I help."

"You must eat it; it will fill your stomach," said he.

She began to cry, and said, "I will not eat it. I will not soil my
nice white clothing."

She went to the beach and searched for feathers. When she found some,
she put them between her fingers and the fingers of her child. They
were both turned into geese and flew away. When the Inuit saw this
they cried, "Itajung, your wife is flying away."

Itajung became very sad. He no longer cared for the meat and blubber,
nor for the whales spouting near the shore. He followed in the
direction his wife had taken, and went over all the land in search of

After traveling for many weary months, he came to a river where a man
with a large axe was chopping chips from a piece of wood, and as fast
as he chopped them they were turned into salmon and slipped out of the
man's hands into the river and swam down to a large lake near by. The
name of the man was Small Salmon.

As Itajung looked at the man he was frightened almost to death; for
the back of the man was entirely hollow, and Itajung could see right
through him and out at the other side. He was so scared that he kept
very still and crept back and away out around him. He wanted to ask if
the man had seen his wife, for that was what he asked everyone he came
to. So he went around and came from the opposite direction, facing the

When Small Salmon saw him approaching he stopped chopping and asked,
"Which way did you approach me?"

"I came from that direction," said Itajung, pointing in the way he had
last approached.

"That is lucky for you, for if you had come the other way and had seen
my back, I should have killed you at once with my hatchet."

"I am glad I don't have to die," said Itajung. "But haven't you seen
my wife? She left me and came this way."

"Yes, I saw her. Do you see that little island in the large lake? That
is where she lives now, and she has taken another husband."

"Oh, I can never reach her," said Itajung in despair. "I have no boat
and do not know how to reach the island."

"I will help you," said Small Salmon kindly. "Come down to the beach
with me. Here is the backbone of a salmon. Now shut your eyes. The
backbone will turn into a kayak and carry you safely to the island.
But mind you keep your eyes shut. If you open them the kayak will

"I will obey," said Itajung.

He closed his eyes, the backbone became a kayak, and away he sped over
the water. He heard no splashing and was anxious to know if he really
was moving, so he peeped open his eyes a trifle.

At once the boat began to swing violently, but he quickly shut his
eyes, and it went on steadily, and he soon landed on the island.

There he saw a hut and his son playing on the beach near it. The boy
on looking up saw and recognized him, and ran to his mother, crying:

"Mother, Father is here and is coming to our hut."

"Go back to your play," she said; "your father is far away and cannot
find us."

The lad went back, but again he ran in, saying:

"Mother, Father is here and is coming to our hut."

Again she sent him away; but he soon returned, saying: "Father is
right here."

He had scarcely said it when Itajung opened the door. When the new
husband saw him he said to his wife, "Open that box in the corner of
the hut."

She did so, and a great quantity of feathers flew out and stuck fast
to them. The hut disappeared. The woman, her new husband, and the
child were transformed into geese and flew away, leaving Itajung
standing alone.



The singing house of an Eskimo village is used also for feasting and
dancing, and always has a spirit owner who is supposed to remain in it
all the time. Once a woman was curious about this spirit and wanted to
see it. For a long time she had wanted to know more about this spirit
of the singing house, but the villagers warned her that she would meet
with a terrible fate if she persisted in trying to see it.

One night she could wait no longer, and went into the house when it
was quite dark so the villagers would not see her go. When she had
entered she said:

"If you are in the house, come here."

As she could see and hear nothing, she cried, "No spirit is here; he
will not come."

"Here I am; there I am," said a hoarse whisper.

"Where are your feet?" she asked, for she could not see him.

"Here they are; there they are," said the voice.

"Where are your shins?" she asked.

"Here they are; there they are," it whispered.

As she could not see anything, she felt of him with her hands to make
sure he was there, and when she touched his knees she found that he
was a bandy-legged man with knees bent outward and forward. She kept
on asking, "Where are your hips? Where are your shoulders? Where is
your neck?" And each time the voice answered, "Here it is; there it

At last she asked, "Where is your head?"

"Here it is; there it is," the spirit whispered, hoarsely.

But as the woman touched the head, all of a sudden she fell dead. _It
had no bones and no hair._



In olden times the Inuit were not the only tribe living in the Eskimo
country. Around Cumberland Sound there lived some very large, strong
people called the Tornit. They were on good terms with the Inuit and
shared the same hunting ground, but lived in separate villages. They
were much taller than the Inuit and had very long legs and arms, but
their eyes were not as good.

They were so strong that they could lift large boulders which were far
too heavy for the Inuit, though the latter were much stronger in those
days than they now are. Some of the stones which they used to throw
are lying about the country still, and the toughest of the men now
living cannot lift them, much less swing and throw them. Some of their
stone houses also remain. They generally lived in these houses all
winter, and did not cover them with snow to make them warmer.

The principal part of their winter dress was a long, wide coat of
deerskins, reaching to the knees and trimmed with leather straps. They
ate walrus, deer, and seal, and when they went sealing in the winter
they fastened the lower edge of their coat to the snow by means of
pegs. Under the coat they carried a small lamp, over which to melt
snow when they were thirsty, and over which to roast some of the seal
meat. They sat around a hole in the ice and watched for their prey,
and when a seal blew in the hole they whispered, "I shall stab it."
Sometimes in their eagerness they forgot the lamp and upset it as they
threw the harpoon, and thus got burned.

Their strength was so great that they could hold a harpooned walrus as
easily as the Inuit could hold a seal. These weaker men did not like
to play ball with them, for they did not realize how rough they were
and often hurt their playfellows severely. This the playfellows tried
to take in good part, and the two lived on friendly terms except for
one thing. For some reason the Tornit did not make kayaks for
themselves, although they saw how convenient they were for hunting
when the ice broke up in the spring. Every little while they would
steal a boat from the Inuit, who did not dare fight for their
property because the thieves were so much stronger.

This rankled in the hearts of the Inuit and they would talk among
themselves and threaten to take vengeance on the robbers. They debated
what they should do either to get rid of the Tornit or to make them
cease their depredations. This state of affairs had gone on till the
Inuit were at fever heat, when one day a young Tornit took the boat of
a young Inuit without asking, and in sealing with it, he ran it into
some blocks of floating ice which stove in the bottom. The owner
nursed his wrath until night, and then when the thief was asleep he
slipped into the tent and thrust his knife into the Tornit's neck.

The Tornit tribe had been aware of the growing dislike, and when at
last one of the Inuit took revenge, they feared that others might do
the same and in similar secret fashion; so they decided to leave the
country. In order to deceive their neighbors, they cut off the tails
of their long coats and tied their hair in bunches that stuck out
behind to look like a strange people as they fled.

Then they stole away, and the Inuit were so glad they were gone that
they made no effort to pursue them.



A powerful conjurer, who had a bear for his mascot, thought he would
like to go to the Moon. He had his hands tied up and a rope fastened
around his knees and neck. Then he sat down at the rear of his hut
with his back to the lamps and had the light extinguished.

He called for his mascot, and the bear at once appeared and he mounted
its back. Up it carried him, above the village, above the mountains,
up and up till they reached the Moon. To his surprise, the Moon was a
_house_ which was covered with beautiful white deerskins. Now white
deer are strange and sacred and are hatched from long white eggs
buried deep in the soil. There is mystery and magic in white deer,
white buffalo, and in all albino animals. The Man in the Moon dried
these white deerskins and fastened them over his house, which, as I
said, is the Moon itself.

On each side of the door to the house was the upper part of an
enormous walrus. The beasts were alive, and they threatened to tear
the visitor in pieces. It was very dangerous to try to pass the fierce
animals, but the conjurer told his mascot to growl as loud as it
could, and that startled the walruses for an instant, and in that
instant the man slipped in.

It must be chilly in the Moon, for the house had a passageway to keep
out the cold, just as the Eskimo houses have. In this passageway was a
red-and-white spotted dog, the only dog which the Man in the Moon
keeps. The man went on past this dog and into the inner room. There at
the left he saw a door into another building in which sat a beautiful
woman with a lamp before her. As soon as she saw the stranger she blew
on her fire and made it flash up, and she hid behind the blaze; but he
had seen enough so that he knew she was the Sun.

The Man in the Moon rose from his seat on the ledge and came over to
shake hands with the visitor and welcome him. Behind the lamps there
was a great heap of venison and seal meat, but the Man in the Moon did
not offer his guest any of it, which is not the way the Eskimo and
Indians treat their guests. The Man in the Moon seemed to have a
different idea of hospitality, for he immediately said:

"My wife, Ulul, will soon be here and we will have a dance. Mind you
don't laugh, or she will slice you in two with her knife and feed you
to my ermine which is in yon little house outside."

Before long a woman entered carrying an oblong chopping-bowl in which
lay her chopping-knife. She set it down and stooped forward, turning
the bowl as if it were a whirligig. Then she commenced dancing; and
when she turned her back toward the stranger he saw that she was
hollow. She had no back, backbone, or insides, but only lungs and

Her husband presently joined in the dance, and their attitudes and
grimaces were so ludicrous that the stranger could scarcely keep from
laughing. He did not wish to be impolite, so he kept turning his face
aside and pretending to cough. Fortunately for him, just as he thought
he would surely explode with laughter, he recalled the warning the man
had given him and rushed out of the house. The Man guessed what was
the matter with him, and called out:

"Better call your white bear mascot!"

He did so, and escaped unhurt.

However, he went into the house another day and succeeded in keeping
his face straight, so when their performance was ended the Man in the
Moon was very friendly to him and showed him all around the house and
let him look into a small building near the entrance.

In this building there were large herds of deer which seemed to be
roaming over vast plains. The Man in the Moon said, "You may choose
one of these for your own," and as soon as he did so the animal fell
through a hole and alighted on the earth right by the conjurer's hut.

In another building there were many seals swimming in an ocean, and he
was allowed to choose one of these, which also fell down to his hut.

"Now you have seen all I can show you, and you may go home," said the
Moon Man. So the conjurer called his mascot and rode down through the
air to his hut.

There his body had lain motionless while his spirit was away, but now
it revived. The cords with which his hands and knees had been bound
dropped off, though they had been tied in hard knots. The conjurer
felt quite exhausted from his trip, but when the lamps were lighted he
told his eager neighbors all that he had seen during his flight to the



Long ago there was a poor little orphan boy who had no home and no one
to protect him. All the inhabitants of the village neglected and
abused him. He was not allowed to sleep in any of the huts, but one
family permitted him to lie outside in the cold passage among the dogs
who were his pillows and his quilt. They gave him no good meat, but
flung him bits of tough walrus hide such as they gave to the dogs, and
he was obliged to gnaw it as the dogs did, for he had no knife.

The only one who took pity on him was a young girl, and she gave him a
small piece of iron for a knife. "You must keep it hidden, or the men
will take it from you," she said.

He did not grow at all because he had so little food. He remained poor
little Quadjaq, and led a miserable life. He did not dare even to join
in the play of the boys, for they called him a "poor little shriveled
bag of bones," and were always imposing upon him on account of his

When the people gathered in the singing house he used to lie in the
passage and peep over the threshold. Now and then a man would take him
by the nose and lift him into the house and make him carry out a jar
of water. It was so large and heavy that he had to take hold of it
with both hands and his teeth. Because he was so often lifted by his
nose, it grew very large, but he remained small and weak.

At last the Man in the Moon, who protects all the Eskimo orphans,
noticed how the men ill-treated Quadjaq, and came down to help him. He
harnessed his dappled dog to his sledge and drove down. When he was
near the hut he stopped the dog and called, "Quadjaq, come out."

The boy thought it was one of the men who wanted to plague him, and he
said, "I will not come out. Go away."

"Come out, Quadjaq," said the Man from the Moon, and his voice sounded
softer than the voices of the men. But still the boy hesitated, and
said, "You will cuff me."

"No, I will not hurt you. Come out," said the Moon Man.


Then Quadjaq came slowly out, but when he saw who it was he was even
more frightened than if it had been one of the men standing there. The
Moon Man took him to a place where there were many large boulders and
made him lie across one as if he were to be paddled. Quadjaq was
scared but he did not dare disobey.

The Man from the Moon took a long, thin ray of moonlight and whipped
the boy softly with it.

"Do you feel stronger?" he asked.

"Yes, I feel a little stronger," said the lad.

"Then lift yon boulder," said the Man.

But Quadjaq was not able to lift it, so he was whipped again.

"Do you feel stronger now?" asked the Man.

"Yes, I feel stronger," said Quadjaq.

"Then lift the boulder."

But again he was not able to lift the stone more than a foot from the
ground, and he had to be whipped again. After the third time he was so
strong that he lifted the boulder as if it had been a pebble.

"That will do now," said the Man from the Moon. "Rays of light even
from the Moon give you strength. To-morrow morning I shall send three
bears. Then you may show what power you have."

The Man then got into his sledge and went back to his place in the

Every time a moonbeam had hit Quadjaq he had felt himself growing. His
feet began first and became enormously large, and when the Man left
him, he found himself a good-sized man.

In the morning he waited for the bears, and three bears did really
come, growling and looking so fierce that the men of the village ran
into their huts and shut the doors. But Quadjaq put on his boots and
ran down to the ice where the bears were. The men peering out through
the window holes said, "Can that be Quadjaq? The bears will soon eat
the foolish fellow."

But he seized the first one by its hind legs and smashed its head on
an iceberg near which it was standing. The next one fared no better.
But the third one he took in his arms and carried it up to the village
and let it eat some of his persecutors.

"That is for abusing me!" he cried. "That is for ill-treating me!"

Those that he did not kill ran away never to return. Only a few who
had been kind to him when he was a poor skinny boy were spared. Among
them, of course, was the girl who had given him the knife, and she
became his wife.



An old hag lived in a house with her grandson. She was a very bad
woman who thought of nothing but playing mischief. She was a witch and
tried to harm everybody with witchcraft.

One time a stranger came to visit some friends who lived in a house
near the old woman. The visitor was a fine hunter and went out with
his host every morning and they brought home a great deal of game. It
made the old woman envious to see her neighbor have so much to eat,
while she had little, and she determined to kill the visitor.

She made a soup of wolf's and man's brains, which was the most
poisonous food she could think of. Then she sent her grandson to
invite the stranger to eat supper at her house.

"Tell him that I desire to be polite to the guest of my neighbor, but
be sure you do not tell him what I have cooked."

The boy went to the neighboring hut and said, "Stranger, my
grandmother invites you to come to her hut and have a good feast on a
supper that she has cooked. She told me not to say that it is a wolf's
and a man's brains, and I do not say it."

The man thought a moment, and then replied, "Tell your grandam that I
will come."

He went to the hut where the old woman pretended to be very glad to
see him. They sat down at the table and while she was placing a large
dish of soup before him, he put a bowl on the floor between his feet.
He excused himself for putting his hand before his mouth because his
front teeth were gone, and every time he poured the spoonful into the

When he had finished he said, "It is the custom in my tribe to bring
your hostess a bit of some delicious food to show that you appreciate
her hospitality. Here is a bowl of rare food which I give to you, but
it will not be good unless you eat it at once."

He gave the soup to the old witch, and the moment she tasted the broth
she herself had prepared she fell down dead.



A long, long time ago a widow lived with her young son and daughter in
a small hut. They had a hard time to get enough to eat. But the boy
was anxious to do all he could, and while he was still quite small he
made a bow and arrows of walrus tusks which he found under the snow.
With these weapons he shot birds for their food.

He had no snow goggles and one day when the sun shone bright and he
was hunting, he became utterly blind. He had a hard time finding his
way back to the hut and when he got there without any game, his mother
was so disappointed that instead of pitying him for his blindness she
became angry with him.

From that time she ill-treated him, never giving him enough to eat. He
was a growing boy and needed a great deal of food, and she thought he
wanted more than his share, so she gave him less, and would not allow
her daughter to give him anything. So the boy lived on, half
starving, and was very unhappy.

One day a polar bear came to the hut and thrust his head right through
the window. They were all much frightened, and the mother gave the boy
his bow and arrows and told him to kill the animal.

"But I cannot see the window and I shall miss the bear. Then it will
be furious and will eat us," he said.

"Quick, brother! I will level the bow," said his sister.

So he shot and killed the bear, and the mother and sister went out and
skinned it and buried the meat in the snow.

"Don't you dare to tell your brother that he killed the bear," said
the mother. "We must make this meat last all winter."

When they went back into the hut she said to her son, "You missed the
bear. He ran away as soon as he saw you take your bow and arrow. We
have been following him a long way into the woods."

The sister did not dare to tell her brother. She and her mother lived
on the meat for a long time while the boy was nearly starving. But
sometimes when the mother was away, the girl gave him meat, for she
loved her brother dearly and used to weep because she knew he was

One day a loon flew over the hut, and, seeing the poor blind boy at
the door, resolved to restore his eyesight. The bird perched on the
roof and kept calling, "_Quee moo! Quee moo!_" which sounded to the
lad like "Come here! Come here!"

He went out and followed the bird to the water. There the loon took
the boy on its back and dived with him to the bottom. The loon is a
great diver and can stay for a long time under water, but it knew the
boy could not. So it came to the surface soon and asked, "Can you see

"No, I cannot see anything as yet," answered the boy.

They dove again and remained a longer time. Again when they came up
the loon asked, "Can you see now?"

"I can see a dim shimmer," replied the boy.

"Take a long, long breath and hold it while we go down," said the
loon. "When you can hold it no more, let it come out very gradually.
As soon as the bubbles of air begin to rise I will know that you must
come to the surface and will bring you."

The third time they remained a long while under water, and when they
rose to the surface the boy could see as well as ever. He thanked the
loon very heartily, and it said to him:

"Go to your home now; but promise me never again to shoot a bird."

He gladly promised, and then ran away to his hut. There he found the
skin of the bear he had shot hanging up to dry. He was so angry that
he tore it down and, entering the hut, demanded of his mother, "Where
did you get the bearskin that is hanging outside the house?"

His mother perceived that he had recovered his sight and that he
suspected the truth about the bear. She was frightened at his anger
and sought to pacify him.

"Come here," she said, "and I will give you the best I have. But I
have no one to support me and am very poor. Come here and eat this. It
is very good."

The boy did not go near. Again he asked, "Where did you get the
bearskin that I saw hanging outside the door?"

She was afraid to tell him the truth, so she said, "A boat came here
with many men in it and they gave me the skin."

The boy did not believe her story. He was sure that it was the skin
of the bear he had shot. But he said nothing more. His mother was
anxious to make peace with him, and offered him food and clothing,
which he refused to take.

He went to the other Inuit who lived in the same village and made a
spear and a harpoon of the same pattern as they used. Then he watched
them throw the harpoons, and in a short time he became an expert
hunter and could catch many white whales.

But he could not forget his anger at his mother. He said to his
sister, "I will not come home while our mother lives in the house. She
abused me while I was blind and helpless, and she mistreated you for
pitying me. We will not kill her, but we will get rid of her and then
live together. Will you do what I have planned?"

She agreed. Then he went to hunt white whales. As he had no kayak he
stood on shore, winding the end of the harpoon string around his body,
and taking a firm footing so he could hold the whale until it quieted
down and died. Sometimes his sister went along to help him hold the

One day his mother went to the beach, and he tied the string around
her body and told her to take a firm footing. She was a trifle nervous
for she had never done the thing before, and she said, "Harpoon a
small dolphin, else I may not be able to hold it, if it is large
enough to make a strong pull."

After a short time a young animal came up to breathe, and she cried,
"Kill that one. I can hold it."

"No, that one is too large," he said.

Again a small dolphin came near, and the mother shouted, "Spear that."
But he said, "No, it is too large and strong."

At last a huge animal arose quite near, and immediately he threw his
harpoon, taking care to wound but not to kill it, and at the same time
pushing his mother into the water.

"That is because you abused me," he cried, as the white whale dragged
her into the sea.

Whenever she came to the surface to breathe she cried "_Louk! Louk!_"
and gradually she became transformed into a narwhal.




The first human beings who appeared on the Diomede Islands were a man
and a woman who came down from the sky. These two lived on the island
for a long time, but had no children.

At last the man took some ivory from a walrus and carved out five
images from it. Then he took some wood and carved five more images,
and set all of them aside. The next morning the ten images had turned
into people. Those from the ivory dolls were men, hardy and brave;
those from the wood were women, soft and timid.

From these ten people came the inhabitants of the islands.


In the first days that people can remember there was a flood which
covered all the earth except one very high peak in the middle. The
water rose up from the sea and covered all the land except the top of
this mountain, and the only animals that were not drowned were a few
that went up this mountain. A few people escaped by going into their
boats and living on the fish they caught until the water subsided.

After the waters lowered, these people went to live upon the
mountains, and when the land was dry they came down to the coast. The
animals also came down and eventually the earth was refilled with
animals and people.

It was during the flood that the waves and currents of water cut the
land into hollows and ridges. Then the water ran back into the sea
leaving the mountains and valleys as they are today. All the Eskimo
along the northern part of North America have heard their old people
tell of the flood.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are reindeer which came from the sky and which have teeth like
dogs. They were once common and anyone could see them, but now only
the priests can see them. They live on the plains, and have a large
hole through the body back of the shoulders. If the people, who can
see them, mistake them for common reindeer and shoot at them, the
arrow falls harmless, for no ordinary weapon can kill them.

The Aurora Borealis is a group of boys playing football. Sometimes
they use the skull of a walrus for the ball. The swaying movement of
the lights shows that the players are struggling with each other and
tugging back and forth. If the Aurora fades away and you utter a low
whistle, the boys will come back as if answering to applause.

The Milky Way is the snow that fell from the Raven's snowshoes when he
walked across the sky, during one of his journeys while he was
creating the inhabitants of earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Puget Sound at the northern border of the United States all along
the coast to Bering Strait, both Indians and Eskimo believe that the
eagle, the raven, the goose, and perhaps any bird, can push up its
beak making it the visor of a cap and thus become a man, and that by
pulling it down he can become a bird again.



In the time before there were any people on earth, a large pea-vine
was growing on the beach, and in the pod of this pea the first man lay
coiled up for four days. On the fifth day he stretched out his feet
and that bursted the pod. He fell to the ground, where he stood up, a
full-grown man.

He had never seen anything that looked like him, and he did not know
what to make of himself. He looked around, and then at himself; then
he moved his arms and hands and was surprised that he could do it. He
moved his neck and his legs, and examined himself curiously.

Looking back, he saw the pod from which he had fallen still hanging to
the vine, with a hole at the lower end out of which he had dropped. He
went up and looked in through the hole to see if there were any more
like him in the pod. Then he looked about him again, and saw that he
was getting farther away from the place where he started, and that
the ground seemed very soft and moved up and down under his feet.

After a while he had an unpleasant feeling in his stomach, and stooped
down to take water in his mouth from a small pool at his feet. The
water ran down into his stomach and he felt better. When he looked up
again, he saw a big dark object coming through the air with a waving
motion. It came on until it was just in front of him when it stopped
and, standing on the ground, looked at him.

This was a Raven, and as soon as it stopped it raised one of its
wings, pushed up its beak like a mask, to the top of its head, and
changed at once into a man. Before he raised his mask, the Raven had
stared at the Man and now he stared more than ever, moving about from
side to side to obtain a better view. At last he said:

"What are you? Where did you come from? I have never seen anything
like you."

He looked again and said, "You are so much like me in shape that you
surprise me."

Presently he said, "Walk away a few steps so that I may see you more
clearly. I am astonished at you! I have never before seen anything
like you. Where did you come from?"

"I came from the pea-pod," said Man pointing to the plant from which
he came.

"Ah!" exclaimed Raven, "I made that vine, but did not know that
anything like you would ever come out of it. Come with me to the high
ground over there. This ground I made later and it is still soft and
thin, but it is harder and thicker over there." They came to the
higher ground which was firm under their feet.

"Have you eaten anything?" Raven asked Man.

"I took some soft stuff into me at one of the pools," replied Man.

"Ah! you drank water," said Raven. "Now wait for me here."

He drew down the mask over his face, changing again into a bird, and
flew far up into the sky where he disappeared. Man waited where he had
been left until the fourth day, when Raven returned, bringing four
berries. Pushing up his mask, Raven became a man again and held out
two salmonberries and two heathberries.

"Here is what I made for you to eat. I wish them to be plentiful over
the earth. Now eat them."

Man took the berries and placed them in his mouth one after the other,
and they satisfied his hunger which had made him feel uncomfortable.
Raven then led Man to a small creek near by and left him till he went
to the edge of the water and molded two pieces of clay into the form
of a pair of mountain sheep. He held them in his hand till they were
dry and then called Man to show him what he had done.

"Those are very pretty," said Man.

"Close your eyes for a little while," said Raven.

As soon as Man's eyes were closed Raven drew down his mask and waved
his wings four times over the images, when they came to life and
bounded away as full-grown mountain sheep.

Raven then raised his mask and said, "Look! Look quick!" When Man saw
the sheep moving away full of life he cried out with pleasure. Seeing
how pleased he was, Raven said, "If these animals are numerous,
perhaps people will wish very much to get them."

"I think they will," said Man.

"Well, it will be better for them to have their home in the high
cliffs," said Raven, "and there only shall they be found, so that
everyone cannot kill them."

Then Raven made two animals of clay and gave them life when they were
dry only in spots; and they remained brown and white, and were the
tame reindeer with mottled coats.

"Those are very handsome," exclaimed Man, admiring them.

"Yes, but there will not be many of these," said Raven.

Then he made a pair of wild reindeer and let them get dry only on
their bellies before giving them life; and to this day the belly of
the wild reindeer is the only white part about it.

"These animals will be very common and people will kill many of them,"
said Raven.



"You will be very lonely by yourself," said Raven to Man one day. "I
will make you a companion."

He went to a spot some distance from where he had made the animals,
and, looking now and then at Man as an artist looks at his model, he
made an image very much like Man. He took from the creek some fine
water grass and fastened it on the back of the head for hair. After
the image had dried in his hands, he waved his wings over it as he had
done with all the live things, and it came to life and stood beside
Man, a beautiful young woman.

"There is a companion for you!" cried Raven. "Now come with me to this
knoll over here."

In those days there were no mountains far or near, and the sun never
ceased to shine brightly. No rain ever fell and no winds blew. When
they came to the knoll Raven found a patch of long, dry moss and
showed the pair how to make a bed in it, and they slept very warmly.
Raven drew down his mask and slept near by in the form of a bird.
Wakening before the others, Raven went to the creek and made three
pairs of fishes: sticklebacks, graylings, and blackfish. When they
were swimming about in the water, he called to Man, "Come and see what
I have made."

When Man saw the sticklebacks swimming up the stream with a wriggling
motion, he was so surprised that he raised his hands suddenly and the
fish darted away.

"Look at these graylings," said Raven; "they will be found in clear
mountain streams, while the sticklebacks are already on their way to
the sea. Both are good for food; so, whether you live beside the water
or in the upland, you may find plenty to eat."

He looked about and thought there was nothing on the land as lively as
the fish in the water, so he made the shrew-mice, for he said, "They
will skip about and enliven the ground and prevent it from looking
dead and barren, even if they are not good for food."

He kept on for several days making other animals, more fishes, and a
few ground birds, for as yet there were no trees for birds to alight
in. Every time he made anything he explained to Man what it was and
what it would do.

After this he flew away to the sky and was gone four days, when he
returned bringing a salmon for Man and his wife. He thought that the
ponds and lakes seemed silent and lonely, so he made insects to fly
over their surfaces, and muskrats and beavers to swim about near their
borders. At that time the mosquito did not bite as it does now, and he
said to Man:

"I made these flying creatures to enliven the world and make it
cheerful. The skin of this muskrat you are to use for clothing. The
beaver is very cunning and only good hunters can catch it. It will
live in the streams and build strong houses, and you must follow its
example and build a house."

When a child was born, Raven and Man took it to the creek and rubbed
it with clay, and carried it back to the stopping-place on the knoll.
The next morning the child was running about pulling up grass and
other plants which Raven had caused to grow near by. On the third day
the child became a full-grown man.

Raven one day went to the creek and made a bear, and gave it life; but
he jumped aside very quickly when the bear stood up and looked
fiercely about. He had thought there ought to be some animal of which
Man would be afraid, and now he was almost afraid of the bear himself.

"You would better keep away from that animal," he said. "It is very
fierce and will tear you to pieces if you disturb it."

He made various kinds of seals, and said to Man, "You are to eat these
and to take their skins for clothing. Cut some of the skins into
strips and make snares to catch deer. But you must not snare deer yet;
wait until they are more numerous."

By and by another child was born, and the Man and Woman rubbed it with
clay as Raven had taught them to do, and the next day the little girl
walked about. On the third day she was a full-grown woman, for in
those days people grew up very fast, so that the earth would be



Raven went back to the pea-vine and there he found that three other
men had just fallen from the pod out of which the first one had
dropped. These men, like the first, were looking about in wonder not
knowing what to make of themselves and the world about them.

"Come with me," said Raven; and he led them away in an opposite
direction from the one in which he had led the first Man, and brought
them to solid land close to the sea. "Stop here, and I will teach you
what to do and how to live," said he.

He caused some small trees and bushes to grow on the hillside and in
the hollows, and he took a piece of wood from one of these, and a
cord, and made a bow and showed them how to shoot game for food. Then
he taught them to make a fire with a fire-drill. He made plants, and
gulls, and loons, and other birds such as fly about on the seacoast.

Then he made three clay images somewhat resembling the men, and waved
his wings over them and brought them to life, and led each one of
these women to one of the men, and then led each pair to a dry bank,
and had three families started on three hilltops.

"Go down to the shore," he said to the three men and the three women,
"and bring up the logs that the tide has brought in, and I will show
you how to make houses."

They brought the drift logs, and he showed them how to lay them up for
walls, and how to make a roof of branches covered with earth. Seals
had now become numerous, and he taught them how to capture them, and
what use to make of their skins. He helped them to make arrows and
spears, and nets to capture deer and fish, and other implements of the
chase. He showed them how to make kayaks by stretching green hides
over a framework of ribs, and letting the hides dry.

"I have not made as many birds and animals for you as I made for First
Man and his wife, but I have made you so many more plants and trees
that it isn't quite fair to him. I must go back and fix up his land a
bit," said Raven.

So he went over to where First Man and his children were living, and
told them all he had done for the three men who had come out of the
pea-pod, and how well he had them fixed up.

"I must have you live as well as they do," he said. "Your land looks
rather barren, and you have no houses."

That night while the people slept he caused birch, spruce, and
cottonwood trees to spring up in the low places, and when the people
awoke in the morning they clapped their hands in delight, for the
birds were singing in the tree-tops and the green leaves with the
sunlight flickering through them made it seem like a fairy land. And
they were delighted with the shade of the trees in which they could
sit and watch the quivering lights and shadows which the fluttering of
the leaves made.

Then Raven taught these people how to build houses out of the trees
and bushes, and how to make fire with a fire-drill, and to place the
spark of tinder in a bunch of dry grass and wave it about until it
blazed, and then put dry wood upon it. He showed them how to put a
stick through their fish and hold it in the fire, till it was a
thousand times more delicious than when raw. He took willow twigs and
strips of willow bark, and made traps for catching fish; and, best of
all, he taught them to look out for the future, by catching more
salmon than they needed, when salmon were running, and drying them for
use when they could catch none.

"Now you are pretty well fixed," he said one day; "it will take you
some time to practice on all the things I have taught you; so I will
go back and see how my coast men are coming on."



After Raven had gone, Man and his son went down to the sea to try some
of the ways they had been taught. They made rather bad work of it, but
the son caught a seal and held it. They tried to kill it with their
hands, but couldn't do it until, finally, the son struck it a hard
blow on the head with his fist. Then the father took off the skin with
his hands alone, and tore it into strips which they dried. With these
strips they set snares for reindeer.

When they went to look at the snare next morning, they found the cords
bitten in two; for in those days the reindeer had sharp teeth like
dogs. They stood looking at the ruined snare for a few minutes, and
then the son said:

"Let us go farther down along the deer trail and dig a pit and set our
snare just at the first edge of the pit, with a heavy stone fastened
in it. Then when the deer puts his head in the snare the stone will
fall down into the pit and drag the deer's head down and hold it."

Next morning when they went to the woods and down the reindeer trail
they found a deer entangled in the snare. Taking it out, they killed
and skinned it, carrying the skin home for a bed.

The women cried, "Oh, let us hold some of the flesh in the fire as we
did the fish!" And of course they found it good.

       *       *       *       *       *

One day Man went out alone hunting seal along the seashore. There were
many seals out of the water sunning themselves on the rocks. He crept
up to them cautiously, but just as he thought he had his hands on
them, one after another slipped into the water. Only one was left on
the rocks. Now you will not wonder at what happened, if you remember
that, although Man was full-grown, he was still quite young, for he
had become a man so suddenly. Only one seal was left on the rocks, and
Man was very hungry. He crept up to it more cautiously than before,
but it slipped through his fingers and escaped.

Then Man stood up and his breast seemed full of a strange feeling, and
water began to run in drops from his eyes and down his face. He put up
his hand and caught some of the drops to look at them and found that
they were really water. Then, without any wish on his part, loud cries
began to break from him, and the tears ran down his face as he went

When his son saw him coming he called to his wife and mother to see
Man coming along making such a strange noise. When he reached them
they were still more surprised to see water running down his face.
After he told them the story of his disappointment about the seals,
they were all stricken with the same ailment and began to wail with
him,--and in this way people first learned to cry.

A while after this the son killed another seal and they made more
reindeer snares from its hide. When the deer caught this time was
brought home, Man told his people to take a splint bone from its
foreleg and to drill a hole in the large end of it. Into this they put
strands of sinew from the deer and sewed skins to keep their bodies
warm when winter came, for Raven had told them to do this; and the
fresh skins shaped themselves to their bodies and dried on them.

Man then showed his son how to make bows and arrows and to tip the
arrows with points of horn for killing deer. With these the son shot
his first deer, which was easier than snaring them. After he had cut
up this deer, he placed its fat upon a bush and then fell asleep. When
he awoke he was very angry to find that the mosquitoes had eaten all
of it. Until this time mosquitoes had never bitten people; but Man
scolded them for what they had done, and said: "Never eat our meat
again; eat men," and since that day mosquitoes have always bitten

Where First Man lived there had now grown a large village, for the
people did everything as Raven had directed, and as soon as a child
was born it was rubbed with clay and thus grew to its full stature in
three days.



One day Raven came back and, sitting beside Man, talked of many things
as if they were brothers. After a little Man said, "I understand that
you have made a land in the sky."

"Yes, I have a fine land there," answered Raven. "I made that land
with all its people and animals, before I made this one."

"I wish you would take me to see it," said Man.

"Very well, I will do so," replied Raven.

They started toward the sky, where they arrived in a short time, and
Man found himself in a beautiful country with a climate much better
than that on earth; but the people who lived there were very small.
When they stood beside Man, their heads reached only to his hips. As
they walked along, Man looked about and saw many animals that were
strange to him, and noticed that the country was much finer than the
one he had left.

The people living there wore handsome fur garments nicely made and
embroidered with ornamental patterns such as people on earth now wear.
Man got the patterns, and when he came back to earth he showed his
people how to make the handsome garments; and the patterns have been
retained ever since.

After a time they came to a large house and went in. A very old man
came from the place of honor opposite the door at the head of the room
to welcome them.

"This is the first man I made in the sky land," said Raven, explaining
why the man seemed so old.

The old man called to his people: "We have here a guest from the lower
land, who is a friend of mine. Bring food to refresh him after his

They brought boiled food of a more delicious kind than Man had ever

"That is the flesh of the spotted reindeer and the sheep that live in
these mountains," said Raven. "When you have finished your meal we
will go on to see other things that I have made. But you must not
attempt to drink from any of the lakes we may pass, for in them are
animals which would seize and kill anyone from the lower land."

On the way they came to a dry lake bed in which tall grass was growing
very thickly, and lying on the very tips of the grass was a large
animal, yet the grass did not bend with the weight. It was a
strange-looking animal with a long head and six legs, the two hind
ones unusually large; the forelegs short; and a small pair under its
belly. The hair around the feet was very long, but all over the body
there was fine, thick hair. From the back of the head grew short,
thick horns which extended forward and curved back at the tips. The
animal had small eyes, and was of darkish color, almost black.

"These animals can sink right into the ground and disappear," said
Raven. "When the people want to kill one of them, they have to put a
log under it so it cannot sink. It takes many people to kill one, for
when the animal falls on the lower log, other logs must be placed
above it and held down, while two men take large clubs and beat it
between the eyes till it is dead."

Next they came to a round hole in the sky with a ring of short grass
growing around the border and glowing like fire.

"This is a star called the Moon-dog," said Raven.

"The tops of the grass blades have been cut away or have burned off,"
said Man.

"Yes, my mother took some, and I took the rest to make the first fire
down on earth," said Raven. "I have tried to make some of this same
kind of grass on earth, but it will not grow there.

"Now close your eyes and get upon my wings and I will take you to
another place," said Raven.

Man did as he was told, and they dropped through the flame-bordered
star hole and floated down and down for a long time. They came to
something that seemed denser than the air, and caused them to go more
slowly, until they finally stopped.

"We are now standing on the bottom of the sea," said Raven. "I came
down here to make some new kinds of water animals. Looking through the
water must look like a fog to you, but you must not walk about; you
must lie down, and if you become tired you may turn over upon the
other side."

Raven then left Man lying on one side, where he rested for a long
time. Finally he awoke feeling very tired, but when he tried to turn
over, he could not.

"I wish I could turn over," he said to himself; and in a moment he
turned very easily.

But as he did this, he was horrified to see that his body had become
covered with long, white hairs, and that his fingers had become long,
sharp claws. However, he was so drowsy that he soon fell asleep again.
After a long time he awoke and again felt tired from lying so long in
one position. He turned as before and fell asleep again for the third
time. When he awoke the fourth time Raven stood beside him.

"I have changed you into a white bear," said Raven. "How do you like

Man tried to answer but could not make a sound. Raven waved his magic
wing over him and then he said:

"I do not wish to be a bear, for then I would have to live on the sea
while my son would live on the shore, and I would be unhappy."

Raven made one stroke of his wings and the bearskin fell from Man and
lay on one side, while he sat up in his human form, thankful that he
did not have to spend the rest of his life as a polar bear.

Then Raven pulled a quill from his tail and put it into the empty
bearskin for a backbone, and after he had waved his wings over it a
white bear arose and walked slowly away; and ever since that time
white bears have been found on the frozen seas.

"How many times did you turn over?" Raven asked.

"Four times," answered Man.

"That was four years. You slept there just four years," said Raven.
"Come now and I will show you some of the animals I made while you

"Here is one like the shrew-mouse of the land; but this one always
lives on the ice of the sea, and whenever it sees a man it darts at
him, entering the toe of his boot and crawling all over him. If the
man keeps perfectly quiet, it will leave him unharmed. But if he is a
coward, and lifts so much as a finger to brush it away, it instantly
burrows into his flesh going directly to his heart and causing death.

"Here is another, a large leather-skinned animal with four long,
wide-spreading arms. This is a fierce animal, living in the sea, which
wraps its arms around a man or a kayak and pulls them into the water.
If the man tries to escape by getting out of his kayak upon the ice
and running away, it will dart underneath and break the ice under his
feet. Or if he gets on the shore and runs, it burrows through the
earth as easily as it swims through the water. No one can escape if
once it pursues him."

"Why did you make such an animal?" asked Man.

"This is like man's own misdeeds, from which he cannot escape,"
replied Raven.

Raven then showed Man several other animals: one somewhat like an
alligator, another with a long scaly tail with which it could kill a
man at one stroke; some walruses, and otter, and many kinds of fish.
They finally came to a place where the shore rose before them, and the
ripples on the surface of the water could be seen.

"Close your eyes and hold fast to me," said Raven.

As soon as he had done this, Man found himself standing on the shore
near his home, and was very much astonished to see a large village
where he had left only a few huts. His wife had become an old woman
and his son was an old man. The people saw him and welcomed him back,
making him their Headman, and giving him the place of honor in their
gatherings. He told them all he had seen and heard since he left them,
and taught the young men many things about the sea animals.



People were becoming such good hunters that they killed a great many
animals, more than Raven was willing to have killed, lest the animals
become too few for the large number of people now on earth. For this
reason, Raven took a grass basket and tied a long line to it and,
going down to earth, caught ten reindeer which he took up to the
skyland. The next night he let the reindeer down near one of the
villages and told them to run fast and break down the first house they
came to, and destroy the people in it.

The reindeer did so and ate up the people with their sharp, wolf-like
teeth; then they returned to the sky. The next night they came down
again and destroyed another house and ate up the people.

"What shall we do?" cried the people to one another. "They will
destroy all of us if they keep on coming."

"I know what I am going to do," said the man who lived in the third
house. "They will come to my house the next time, and I'm going to
cover it with deer fat and stick sour berries all over in the fat."

When the reindeer came the third night, they got their teeth full of
fat and sour berries, and ran off shaking their heads so hard that
their long, sharp teeth fell out. Afterward small teeth, such as
reindeer now have, came in their places, and these animals became

But Raven had not accomplished his purpose, for only two families had
been destroyed, and there were still too many inhabitants left. He
said, "If something isn't done to stop people from killing so many
animals, they will keep on until they have killed everything I have
made. I believe I will take away the sun from them, so that they will
be in the dark and will die."

He took Man up to the sky with him, so that he would be safe from the
trouble to come. Then he said, "You remain here while I go and take
away the sun."

He went away and took the sun, and put it into his skin bag, and
carried it far off to a part of the skyland where his parents lived,
thus making it very dark on earth. There in his father's village he
stayed for a long time, keeping the sun carefully hidden in the bag.

The people on earth were terribly distressed when it remained dark so
long. They prayed to Raven and offered him rich presents of food and
furs, but he wouldn't bring back the sun. They kept on begging him,
saying at last: "We have crept around in the darkness finding our
storehouses and getting the meat, till now it is almost gone, and we
are likely to starve. Let us have light for a little time at least, so
we may get more food."

So Raven yielded a trifle and held up the sun in one hand _for two
days_ while all the people went hunting; then he put it back and
darkness returned. Another long time would pass and the people would
make many offerings before he would let them have light again. This
was repeated many times.[2]

In this same sky village with Raven and his parents lived an older
brother of Raven who thought the punishment of men was being carried
too far. This brother felt sorry for the people on earth, but he
didn't say a word about it to anyone. He thought out a plan which he
kept to himself.

After a time he pretended to die, and was put away in a grave box in
the customary manner. As soon as the mourners left his grave, he arose
and went out a short distance from the village, where he hid his raven
mask and coat in a tree. Then he turned himself into a young boy and
went back to his father's house, where he skipped about in a lively
manner, and amused the parents so much that the father at last became
very fond of him.

When he had gotten them in the habit of indulging him, he began to cry
for the sun as a plaything. He kept this up until the father went to
the bag and took out the sun and let him have it for a while, being
careful to see that it went back into the bag when anyone was coming,
or when the boy was going out of doors.

One day the boy played with it for a time in the house, all the while
watching his chance, and when no one was looking, he ran outside, fled
to the tree where he put on his raven coat and mask and flew away with
it. When he was far up in the sky, he heard his father's voice,
sounding faint and far below, saying:

"Don't hide the sun. If you will not bring it back, let it out of the
bag sometimes. Don't keep us always in the dark, if you mean to keep
the sun for yourself."

The father went into the house, and the Raven boy flew on to the place
where the sun belonged, and put the bag down. It was early dawn and he
saw the Milky Way leading far onward, and followed it to a hole
surrounded by short grass which glowed with light. He plucked some of
the grass and, standing close beside the edge of the earth just before
sunrise time, he stuck it into the sky. It has stayed there ever since
as the beautiful Morning Star.

Then he went back and tore off the skin covering and put the sun in
its place. Remembering that his father had called to him not to keep
it always dark, but to make it partly dark and partly light, he caused
the sky to revolve so that it moved around the earth carrying the sun
and stars with it, and making day and night.

Going down to earth he came to where the first people lived, and said
to them, "Raven, my uncle, was angry because you killed more animals
than you needed, and he took away the sun; but I have put it back and
it will never be changed again."

The people welcomed him warmly when they knew what he had done for
them. As he looked around upon them he recognized the Headman of the

"Why, what are you doing down here?" he asked.

"I and some of my people thought we would like a change, and so we
came down to live on earth for a while," replied the dwarf.

"What has become of Man?"

"Who is Man? I never heard of him," said Raven boy.

"He was the first person ever seen on earth. He was our Headman until
he went away with Raven," said the people.

"I will go into the skyland and find him," said Raven boy. He tried to
fly, but could get up only a little way. He tried several times,
getting only a short distance above the ground. When he found that he
could not get back to the sky, he wandered off and finally came to
where there were living the children of the three men who last dropped
from the pea-vine. There he took a wife and lived for a long time
having many children, all of whom were Raven people like himself and
could fly over the earth. But they gradually lost their magical
powers, and were no longer able to turn themselves into men by pushing
up their beaks. They became just ordinary ravens like those we see now
on the tundras or marshy plains.


[2] This story is probably the Eskimo's explanation of the very long
nights in the far north during part of the year.



Very long ago, before the white people ever went into the land of the
Eskimo, there was a large village at Pik-mik-tal-ik. One winter day
the people living there were surprised to see a small man and a small
woman with a child coming down the river on the ice. The man was so
little that he wore a coat made of a single white fox skin. The
woman's coat was made from the skins of two white hares; while two
muskrat skins clothed the child.

The father and mother were about two cubits high, and the boy not over
the length of one's forearm. Though he was so small, the man was
dragging a sled much larger than those used by the villagers, and he
had on it a heavy load of various articles. He seemed surprisingly
strong, and when they came to the shore below the village, he easily
drew the sled up the steep bank, and taking it by the rear end raised
it on the sled frame, a feat which would have required the strength of
several of the villagers.

The couple entered one of the houses and were made welcome. This small
family remained in the village for some time, the man taking his place
among the other men and seeming entirely at home and friendly. He was
very fond of his little son; but one day when the latter was playing
outside the house, he was bitten so badly by a savage dog that he
died. In his anger the father caught the dog up by the tail and struck
it against a post so violently that the dog fell in halves.

In his great sorrow, the father made a handsome, carved grave-box for
his son and placed the child with his toys in it. Then he went into
his house and for four days he did no work and would see no one. At
the end of that time he took his sled, and with his wife returned up
the river on their old trail, while the villagers sorrowfully watched
them go, for they had come to like the pair very much.

Before this time the villagers had always made the body of their sleds
from long strips of wood running lengthwise; but after they had seen
the dwarf's sled with many crosspieces, they adopted that model.

Before this time, too, they had always cast their dead out on the
tundra to be devoured by the dogs and wild beasts; but after they had
seen the dwarf people bury their son in a grave-box with toys placed
about him, they buried their dead in that way and observed four days
of mourning as had been done by the dwarf; for they liked him and his
gentle manners.

And ever since that time the hunters coming home at dusk and looking
toward the darkening tundra, sometimes see dwarf people who carry bows
and arrows, but who disappear into the ground if one tries to approach
them. They are harmless people, never attempting to do anyone an
injury. No one has ever spoken to these dwarfs since the time they
left the village; but deer hunters have often seen their tracks near
the foot of the mountains.



The women south of St. Michael are poor seamstresses but fine dancers,
while those to the north are expert needlewomen but poor dancers; and
this is the way the Eskimo explain it.

Very long ago there were many men living in the northland, but there
was no woman among them. Far away in the southland a single woman was
known to live. At last the shrewdest young man of the northland
started and traveled southward till he came to the woman's house,
where he stopped and became her husband.

He was very proud of himself for getting ahead of the other young men
in the north. One day he sat in the house thinking of his former home,
and he said, "Ah, I have a wife, while even the son of the Headman has

Meanwhile, the Headman's son had also set out to journey toward the
south, and while the husband was talking thus to himself, the son
stood in the entrance to the house and heard what he said. It angered
the son to hear the husband gloating over him. He hid in the passage
and waited until the people inside were asleep, when he crept into the
house and, seizing the woman by the shoulders, began dragging her

Just as he reached the doorway he was overtaken by the husband who
caught the woman by her feet. The two held on like grim death and
tugged and pulled until it ended in the woman being torn in two. The
thief carried the upper half of the body away, while the husband was
left with the lower portion of his wife.

Each man set to work to replace the missing parts from carved wood.
After these parts were fitted on they came to life; and thus two women
were made from the halves of one.

Owing to the clumsiness of her wooden fingers, the woman of the south
was a poor needlewoman, but was a fine dancer. The woman of the north
was very expert in needlework, but her wooden legs made her a poor
dancer. Each of these women gave these traits to her daughters, so
that to the present time the same difference is noted between the
women of the north and those of the south, "thus showing that the
story is true."



In a certain village on the Yukon River there once lived four brothers
and a sister. The sister's companion was the youngest boy, of whom she
was very fond. This boy was lazy and could never be made to work. The
other brothers were great hunters and in the fall they hunted at sea,
for they lived near the shore. As soon as the Bladder feast in
December was over, they went to the mountains and hunted reindeer. The
boy never went with them, but remained at home with his sister, and
they amused each other.

One time, however, she became angry at him, and that night when she
carried food to the other brothers in the kashim or assembly house
where the men slept, she gave none to the youngest brother. When she
went out of the assembly house she saw a ladder[3] leading up into the
sky, with a line hanging down by the side of it. Taking hold of the
line, she ascended the ladder, going up into the sky. As she was going
up, the younger brother came out and, seeing her, at once ran back and
called to his brothers:

"Our sister is climbing the sky! Our sister is climbing the sky!"

"Oh, you lazy youngster, why do you tell us that? She is doing no such
thing," said they.

"Come and see for yourselves! Come, quick!" he cried, very much

Sure enough! Up she was going at a rapid rate.

The boy caught up his sealskin breeches and, being in a hurry, thrust
one leg into them and then drew a deerskin sock on the other foot as
he ran outside. There he saw the girl far away up in the sky and began
at once to go up the ladder toward her; but she floated away, he
following in turn.

The girl became the sun and the boy became the moon, and ever since
that time he pursues but never overtakes her. At night the sun sinks
in the west, and the moon is seen coming up in the east to go circling
after, but always too late. The moon, being without food, wanes slowly
away from starvation until it is quite lost to sight; then the sun
reaches out and feeds it from the dish in which she carried food to
the kashim. After the moon is fed and gradually brought to the full,
it is permitted to starve again, thus producing the waxing and waning
which we see every month.


[3] Probably the Milky Way.



At the northern part of the continent, in the land of the midnight
sun, where in the long summer days the sun at midnight is just
slipping below the northern horizon and immediately is seen coming up
again, and where in the long nights of winter there is scarcely any
daytime at all, it is not strange that the legends of the people often
treat of daylight and especially of darkness. The long nights become
oppressive, and the people have different theories as to the cause of
it, which they weave into legends such as the following.

In the days when the earth was a child, there was light from the sun
and moon as there is now. Then the sun and moon were taken away and
the people were left for a long time with no light but the shining of
the stars. The shamans, or priests, made their strongest charms to no
purpose, for the darkness of night continued.

In a village of the lower Yukon there lived an orphan boy who always
sat upon the bench with the humble people, over the entrance way of
the kashim or assembly house. The other people thought he was foolish,
and he was despised and ill-treated by everyone. After the shamans had
tried very hard to bring back the sun and moon and had failed, the boy
began to ridicule them.

"What fine shamans you must be, not to be able to bring back the
light, when even I can do it," he said mockingly.

At this the shamans became very angry and beat him and drove him out
of the kashim. The orphan was like any other boy until he put on a
black coat which he had, when he became a raven and remained in that
form until he removed his coat. When the shamans drove him out, he
went to the house of his aunt in the village and told her what he had
said, and how the shamans had beaten him and driven him out of the

"Tell me where the sun and moon have gone, for I am going after them,"
said he.

"They are hidden somewhere, but I don't know where it is," she

"I am sure you know where they are, for look what a neatly sewed coat
you wear, and you could not see to do that if you did not know where
the light is."

After a great deal of persuasion the aunt said: "Well, if you wish to
find the light you must take your snowshoes and go far, far to the
southland, to the place you will know when you get there."

The boy put on his black coat, took his snowshoes, and at once set off
for the south. For many days he traveled, while the darkness always
remained the same. When he had gone a very long way, he saw far ahead
of him a single ray of light, and that cheered and encouraged him.

As he hurried on, the light showed again plainer than before and then
vanished; and kept appearing and vanishing at intervals. At last he
came to a large hill, one side of which was in a bright light while
the other was in the blackness of night. Ahead of him and close to the
hill he saw a hut with a man who was shoveling snow from the front of

The man was tossing the snow high in air, and each time he did this
the light was hidden, thus causing the changes from light to darkness
which the boy had noticed as he approached. Close beside the house he
saw a great blazing ball of fire--the light he had come to find.

The boy stopped and began to plan how he could secure the light and
the shovel from the man. After a time he walked up to the man and
asked, "Why are you throwing up the snow and hiding the light from
our village?"


The man stopped his work, looked up and said, "I am only clearing away
the snow from my door. I am not hiding the light. But who are you, and
where do you come from?"

"It is so dark at our village that I did not like to live there, so I
came here to live with you," said the boy.

"What? Will you stay all the time?" asked the man in surprise.

"Yes," replied the boy.

"That is well; come into the house with me," said the man.

He dropped his shovel on the ground and, stooping down, led the way
into the underground passage to the house, letting the curtain fall in
front of the door as he passed, for he thought the boy was close
behind him.

The moment the door flap fell behind the man as he entered, the boy
caught up the ball of light and put it in the turned-up flap of his
fur coat in front. Catching up the shovel in one hand, he ran away to
the north, running until his feet became tired. Then he whipped on his
magic coat and became a raven and flew as fast as his wings would
carry him. Behind he heard the frightful shrieks and cries of the old
man, following fast in pursuit.

When the old man found that he could not overtake the raven he cried
to him, "Never mind; you may keep the light, but give me my shovel."

"No; you made our village dark and you cannot have the shovel," called
the raven, and flew faster, leaving the man far in the rear.

As the raven boy traveled home, he tore out a chunk from the light
ball and threw it away, thus making a day. Then he went on for a long
way in the darkness, and threw out another piece of light, making it
day again. He continued to do this at intervals until he reached the
kashim in his own village, where he dropped the rest of the ball.

Then he went into the kashim and said, "Now, you worthless shamans,
you see I have brought back the light, and hereafter it will be light
and then dark, making day and night."

And the shamans could not answer.



On the tundra south of the mouth of the Yukon River an orphan boy once
lived with his aunt. They were all alone with no house within sight;
but the boy had heard that there were people living farther up the
river. One summer day he got into his kayak and rowed up the river
hoping to find other human beings. He traveled on until he came to a
large village where he saw many people moving about. There he landed
and began calling to the people expecting to make friends with them.

But instead of being friendly, they disliked all strangers and,
running down to the shore, they seized him, broke his kayak to pieces,
tore his clothing off him, and beat him badly. Then they took him up
into the village and kept him there all summer, beating and
ill-treating him very often. In the fall one of the men took pity on
him and made him a kayak, and helped him to escape. He went down the
river and arrived at home after a long absence.

During the summer other people had built houses near the home of his
aunt and there was a small village instead of the one lone hut. He
walked among the buildings until he found his aunt's house; but when
he entered, he frightened her very much, for at first glance she
thought it was a skeleton, he had been starved and beaten so long.

When his aunt recognized him and had heard his story, she said, "Oh,
you poor boy! What you must have suffered! I am full of rage at those
cruel villagers. I shall find some way to revenge your wrongs!"

She sat thinking a while and then said to him, "Bring me a piece of a
small log."

He brought the piece of wood and she whittled and rubbed it into the
form of an animal with long teeth and long, sharp claws, and painted
it white on the throat and red on the sides. Then they took the image
to the edge of the stream and placed it in the water.

"Go now," she said to it, "and kill everyone you find in the village
where my boy was beaten."

The image did not move.

She took it out of the water and cried over it, letting her tears
fall upon it; and the warm tears brought it to life and made it feel
sorry for her and the boy. She put it back into the water.

"Now, go and kill the bad people who beat my boy," she said.

At this the image floated across the creek and crawled up on the other
side, where it began to grow, soon becoming a large red bear. It
turned and looked at the woman till she called out, "Go, and spare no

The bear went away and came to the village on the big river, the one
to which the boy had gone. There the first one he met was a man going
for water. This one was quickly torn in pieces, and one after another
of the villagers met the same fate; for the bear stayed near the
village until he had destroyed one-half of the people, and the rest
were so terrified that they began moving away.

Then he swam across the Yukon and went over the tundra to the farther
side of another river, killing everyone he met. For he had become so
bloodthirsty that the least sign of life seemed to fill him with fury
until he had destroyed it.

From there he turned back, and one day came to the place on the river
where he had first come to life. Seeing the people on the opposite
side he became furious, tearing the ground with his claws and
growling, and starting to cross the river to get at them. When the
villagers saw this, they were much frightened, and ran about saying,
"Here is the old woman's dog! We shall all be killed!" "Tell the old
woman to stop her dog!" They had never seen a bear and they thought it
was a dog she had made.

The woman went to meet the bear which did not try to hurt her, but was
passing by her to get at the other people when she caught him by the
hair on the back of his neck.

"Do not hurt these people," she said; "they have been kind to me and
have given me food when I was hungry."

She led the bear into her house, and still holding on to him, she
talked to him kindly.

"You have done my bidding well, and I am pleased with you," she said;
"but you must not overdo it. Hereafter you must injure no one unless
he tries to hurt or injure you."

When she had finished talking, she led him to the door and sent him
away over the tundra. Before she made him there had never been any of
his kind, but since then there have always been red bears.



In ancient times a great many giant eagles or thunderbirds lived in
the mountains; but in later years they had all disappeared except one
single pair which made their home in the mountain top overlooking the
Yukon near Sabotnisky. The top of this mountain was round and the
eagles had hollowed out a great basin on the summit which they used
for a nest. Around the edge of it was a rocky rim from which they
could see far across the broad river, or could look down upon the
village at the base of the mountain on the water's edge.

From their perch on this rocky wall these great birds would soar away,
looking like a cloud in the sky, to seize a reindeer from a passing
herd and bring it to their young. Or, again, they would circle out
with a noise like thunder from their shaking wings, and drop down upon
a fisherman in his kayak on the river, carrying man and boat to the
top of the mountain. There the man would be eaten by the young
thunderbirds, and the kayak would lie bleaching among the bones and
other refuse scattered along the border of the nest. Every fall the
young birds would fly away to the northland, while the old ones would
remain by the mountain.

After many fishermen had been carried away by the birds, there came a
time when only the most daring would venture upon the river. One
summer day a brave young hunter was starting out to look at his fish
traps and he said to his wife, "Don't go outside the house while I am
away, for fear of the birds."

After he was gone she noticed that the water tub was empty, and took a
bucket to go to the river for water. As she bent over to fill the
vessel a roaring noise like thunder filled the air, and one of the
birds darted down and seized her in its talons. The villagers saw the
bird swoop down, and they wailed aloud in sorrow and terror as they
watched her being carried through the air to the mountain top.

The hunter came home and the villagers gathered about with many
lamentations. "Oh, pitiful! pitiful! your pretty wife was carried away
by the thunderbirds! Too bad! Too bad! By this time she is torn to
pieces and fed to the young demons!"

Not one word did the husband utter. Going into his empty house he took
down his bow and his quiver of war arrows and started toward the

"Don't go! Don't go!" cried the villagers; "of what use is it? She is
dead and devoured ere this. You will only add one more to their

Not a word did the hunter reply. He strode on and on and they watched
him climbing up and up the mountainside till he was lost to view. At
last he gained the rim of the nest and looked in. The old birds were
away, but the fierce young eagles greeted him with shrill cries and
fiery, flashing eyes. The hunter's heart was full of anger and he
quickly bent his bow, loosing the war arrows one after another till
the last one of the hateful birds lay dead in the nest.

With heart still burning for revenge, the hunter hid himself beside a
great rock near the nest and waited for the parent birds. They came.
They saw their young lying dead and bloody in the nest, and their
cries of rage echoed from the cliffs on the farther side of the great
river. They soared up into the air looking for the one who had killed
their young. Quickly they saw the brave hunter beside the great stone,
and the mother bird swooped down upon him, her wings sounding like a
gale in a spruce forest. Swiftly fitting an arrow to the string, as
the eagle came down the hunter sent it deep into her throat. With a
hoarse cry she turned and flew away over the hills far to the north.

The father bird had been circling overhead and came roaring down upon
the hunter, who, at the right moment, crouched close to the ground
behind the stone, and the eagle's sharp claws struck only the hard
rock. As the bird arose, eager to swoop down again, the hunter sprang
from his shelter and drove two heavy war arrows deep under its wing.
Uttering hoarse cries of rage, and spreading his broad wings, the
thunderbird floated away like a cloud in the sky, far into the
northland, and was never seen again.

Having taken blood vengeance, the hunter went down into the nest where
among ribs of old canoes and other bones he found some fragments of
his wife, which he carried to the water's edge and, building a fire,
made food offerings and libations of water such as would be pleasing
to her ghost.



One day Raven was sitting on a cliff near the sea when he saw a large
whale passing close along the shore.

"I have an idea!" said he. "I'm going to try something new." Then he
called out to the whale, "When you come up again, shut your eyes and
open your mouth wide, and I'll put something in it."

Then he drew down his mask, put his drill for making fire under his
wing, and flew out over the water. Very soon the whale came up again
and did as he had been told. Raven, seeing the wide open mouth, flew
straight down the whale's throat. The whale closed his mouth, gave a
great gulp, and down he went to the bottom of the sea.

Raven stood up, pushed up his beak, and looking about, found himself
at the entrance to a fine room, at one end of which burned a lamp. He
went in and was surprised to see a beautiful young woman sitting
there. The place was clean and dry, the roof being supported by the
whale's spine, while its ribs formed the walls. The lamp was supplied
from a tube that extended along the whale's backbone, from which oil
constantly but slowly dripped into the lamp.

When Raven stepped in, the woman started up in alarm and cried out,
"How came you here? You are the first man who ever came into my

"I came in through the whale's throat," said Raven as politely as he
knew how, for the woman was young and fair to look upon. Moreover, he
had already guessed that she was the _inua_ or spirit of the whale. "I
should like to stay a while."

"As you cannot get out at present, it seems that you will have to
stay. Whether you like it, or whether I like it, you appear to be my
guest, so I must prepare food for you."

She brought food which she served with berries and oil. "These are
berries which I gathered last summer," she said.

For four days he remained there as the guest of the whale's spirit,
and found it a very pleasant experience; but he continually wondered
what the tube was that ran along the roof of the house. Whenever the
spirit woman left the room she said, "You must on no account touch
that tube," and that only served to make him the more curious.

On the fifth day, when she left the room, he went to the lamp and
caught a drop of the oil which he licked up with his tongue. It tasted
so sweet that he began to catch other drops as fast as they fell. This
soon became too slow to suit him, for he was hungry, so he reached up
and tore a piece from the side of the tube and ate it. As soon as this
was done a great rush of oil poured into the room and put out the
light, while the room itself began to roll wildly about.

This continued for four days, and Raven was nearly dead from
exhaustion and the bruises which he received. Then the room became
still and the whale was dead, for Raven had torn off part of one of
the heart vessels. The _inua_ never came back to the room, and the
whale drifted upon the shore.

Raven now found himself a prisoner and was saying to himself, "Now I
_am_ in a pretty boat! I have enjoyed the trip, but how is one to get
out of a kayak like this?"

Presently he said, "Hark! What is that I hear? As I live, it is
someone walking on the roof of the house!"

And he was right, for two men were walking on top of the dead whale
and calling to their village mates to come and help cut it up. Very
soon there were many people at work cutting a hole through the upper
side of the whale's body.

Raven quickly pulled down his mask, becoming a bird, and crouched
close in the farthest corner. When the hole was large enough, he
watched his chance and while everybody was carrying a load of meat to
the shore, he flew out and alighted on the top of a hill close by
without being noticed.

"Ah, my good fire-drill; I have forgotten it," he exclaimed,
remembering that he had left it behind.

He quickly pushed up his beak and removed his raven coat, becoming a
young man again. He started along the shore toward the whale. The
people working on the dead animal saw a small, dark-colored man in a
strangely made deerskin coat coming toward them, and they looked at
him curiously.

"Ho, you have found a fine, large whale," said he as he drew near. "I
will help you to cut him up."

He rolled up his sleeves and set to work. Very soon a man cutting on
the inside of the whale's body called out, "Ah, see what I have
found! A fire-drill inside a whale!"

At once the wily Raven rolled down his sleeves and quit work, saying,
"That is a bad sign, for my daughter has told me that if a fire-drill
is found in a whale and people try to cut up that whale, many of them
will die. I shall run away before the _inua_ of the whale catches me."
And away he ran.

When he was gone the people looked at one another and said, "Perhaps
he is right; we'd better go too." And away they all ran, each one
trying to rub the oil from his hands as he went.

From his hiding-place Raven looked on and laughed as he saw the people
running away. Then he went back for his raven coat and when he had put
it on and pulled down his beak he flew to the carcass and began to cut
it up and fly with chunks of the flesh to a cave on the shore. He did
not dare go to it as a man lest the villagers should see him and,
discovering the trick he had played them, should come back for the
meat. As he chuckled over the feast in store for him he said, "Thanks,
Ghost of the whale, both for the boat ride and for the feast."



In a village on Cape Prince of Wales, very long ago, there was a poor
orphan boy who had no one to take his part and who was treated badly
by everyone, being made to run here and there at the bidding of all
the villagers.

One snowy night he was told to go out of the kashim to see if the
weather was getting worse. He had no skin boots, and it was so cold
that he did not wish to go, but he was driven out. When he came back
he said, "It has stopped snowing, but it is as cold as ever."

Just to plague him, the men kept sending him out every little while,
until at last he came in saying:

"I saw a ball of fire like the moon coming over the hill to the

The men laughed at him and asked, "Why do you tell us a yarn like
that? Go out again and see if there is not a whale coming over the
hill. You are always seeing things."

He went out, and came in again quickly, saying in agitation, "The red
thing has come nearer and is close to the house."

The men laughed, but the boy hid himself. Almost immediately after
this the men in the kashim saw a fiery figure dancing on the gut-skin
covering over the roof hole, and an instant after a human skeleton
came crawling into the room through the passageway, creeping on its
knees and elbows.

When the skeleton was in the room it made a motion toward the people
which caused them all to fall on their knees and elbows in the same
position as it had. Then, turning about, it crawled out as it had
come, followed by the people, who were forced to go with it. Outside,
the skeleton crept through the snow toward the edge of the village,
followed by all the men, and in a short time every one of them was
dead and the skeleton had vanished.

Some of the villagers had been absent when the spook came, and when
they returned they found dead people lying all about on the cold
ground. Entering the kashim, they found the orphan boy, who told them
how the people had been killed.

They followed the tracks of the skeleton through the snow, and were
led up the side of the mountain till they came to an ancient grave,
where the tracks ended.

It was the grave of the boy's father.



Once when a Raven was flying over some reefs near the shore of the
sea, he was seen by some Sea-birds that were perched on the rocks.
They began to revile him, calling him disagreeable names: "Oh, you
offal eater! Oh, you carrion eater! Oh, you black one!" until the
Raven turned and flew away, crying, "_Gnak, gnak, gnak_! why do they
call me such names?"

He flew far away across the great water until he came to a mountain on
the other side, where he stopped. Just in front of him he saw a marmot
hole. He said to himself, "If it is a disgrace to eat dead animals I
will eat only live ones. I will become a murderer."

He stood in front of the hole watching, and very soon the marmot came
home, bringing some food. Marmot said to Raven, "Please stand aside;
you are right in front of my door."

"It is not my intention to stand aside," said Raven. "They called me a
carrion eater, and I will show that I am not, for I will eat you."

"If you are going to eat me, you ought to be willing to do me a
favor," replied Marmot. "I have heard that you are a very fine dancer,
and I long to see you dance before I die. If you dance as beautifully
as they say, I shall be willing to die when once I have seen it. If
you will dance I will sing, and then you may eat me."

This pleased Raven so much that he began to dance and Marmot pretended
to go into ecstasies about it.

"Oh, Raven, Raven, Raven, how well you dance!" he sang. "Oh, Raven,
Raven, Raven, how well you dance!"

By and by they stopped to rest and Marmot said, "I am very much
delighted with your dancing. Do shut your eyes and dance your best
just once more, while I sing."

Raven closed his eyes and hopped clumsily about while Marmot sang,
"Oh, Raven, Raven, Raven, what a graceful dancer! Oh, Raven, Raven,
Raven, what a fool you are!" And with a quick run, Marmot darted
between Raven's legs and was safe in his hole.

There he turned, putting out the tip of his nose and laughing
mockingly as he said, "_Chi-kik-kik, chi-kik-kik, chi-kik-kik_! You
are the greatest fool I ever met. What a ridiculous figure you made
while dancing; I could scarcely sing for laughing. Look at me, and see
how fat I am. Don't you wish you could eat me?"

And he tormented Raven till the latter flew away in a rage.



In a village on the lower Yukon lived a man and his wife who had no
children. One day the woman said to her husband, "Far out on the
tundra there grows a solitary tree. Go to that and bring back a piece
of the trunk, and make a doll from it. Then it will seem that we have
a child."

The man went out of the house and saw a long track of bright light
like that made by the moon shining on snow, leading off across the
tundra in the direction he had been told to take. It was the Milky
Way. Along this path he traveled far away until he saw before him a
beautiful object shining in the bright light. Going up to it, he found
it was the tree of which he came in search. The tree was small, so he
took his hunting-knife, cut off a part of the trunk, and carried the
fragment home.

He sat down in the house and carved out from the wood an image of a
small boy, and his wife made two suits of clothing for it and dressed
it in one of them, "saving the other to put on when he had soiled the
first," she said.

"Now, Father, make your little boy a set of toy dishes," she said.

"I see no use in all this trouble. We will be no better off than we
were in the first place," said the man.

"Why, yes, we are already better off," said the wife. "Before we had
the doll we had nothing to talk about except ourselves. Now we have
the doll to talk about and to amuse us."

To please her the husband made the toy dishes, and she placed the doll
in the seat of honor on the bench opposite the door, with the dishes
full of food and water before it.

When the couple had gone to bed that night the room was very dark and
they heard several low, whistling sounds.

"Do you hear that? It is the doll," said the woman, shaking her
husband till he awakened.

They got up at once and, making a light, saw that the Doll had eaten
the food and drunk the water, and that its eyes were moving. The woman
caught it up with delight and fondled and played with it for a long
time. When she became tired she put it back on the bench and they went
to bed again.

In the morning when they got up the Doll was gone. They looked for it
all around the house, but could not find it. Then they went outside,
and there were its tracks leading away from the door. They followed
the tracks to the creek and along the bank to a place outside the
village, where they ended; for from this place the Doll had gone up
the Milky Way on the path of light upon which the man had gone to find
the tree.

Doll traveled along the bright path till he came to the edge of day,
where the sky comes down to the earth and walls in the light. Close
beside him, in the east, he saw a skin cover fastened over a hole in
the sky wall. The skin was bulging inward as if some strong force on
the other side were pushing it.

"It is very quiet here. I think a little wind would make it livelier,"
said the Doll, drawing his knife and cutting the cover loose on one
side of the hole. At once a strong wind blew through, every now and
then bringing with it a live reindeer. Looking through the hole, Doll
saw beyond the wall another world like the earth. He drew the cover
over the hole again.

"Do not blow too hard," he said to the wind. "Sometimes blow hard,
sometimes light, and sometimes do not blow at all."


Then he got upon the sky wall and walked along till he came to the
southeast. Here another opening was covered like the first, and the
covering was bulging inward. When he cut this covering loose a gale
swept in bringing reindeer, trees, and bushes. He quickly covered the
hole and said to the gale, "You are too strong. Sometimes blow hard,
sometimes light, and sometimes do not blow at all. The people on earth
will want variety."

Again walking along the sky wall he came to a hole in the south, and
when this covering was cut a hot wind came rushing in carrying rain
and spray from the great sea lying beyond the sky-hole on that side.
Doll closed this opening and talked to the wind as before.

Then he passed on to the west where there was another hole which
admitted heavy rainstorms, with sleet and spray from the ocean. When
he had closed this and given the wind its instructions he went on to
the northwest. There, when he cut away the covering, a cold blast came
rushing in, bringing snow and ice, so that he was chilled to the bone
and half frozen, and he made haste to close the hole as he had the

He started to go along the sky wall to the north, but the cold became
more and more severe until at last he was obliged to leave the wall
and make a circuit to the southward, going back to the north only when
he came opposite the opening. There the cold was so intense that he
waited some time before he could muster courage to cut the cover away.
When he did so, a fearful blast rushed in, carrying great masses of
snow and ice, strewing it over the entire plain of the earth. It was
so bitter that he closed the hole very quickly, and told the wind from
that direction to come only in the middle of the winter so that the
people might not be taken unawares, and might be prepared for it.

From there he hastened down to warmer climes in the middle of the
earth plain, where, looking up, he saw that the sky was supported by
long, slender, arching poles, like those of a conical lodge, but made
of some beautiful material unknown to him. Journeying on, he finally
came to the village from which he started and went into his own home.

Doll lived in this village for a very long time; for when the foster
parents who had made him died, he was taken by other people of the
village and so lived on for many generations, until he finally died.
Since his death parents have made dolls for their children in
imitation of the Doll who first opened the wind-holes of the sky and
regulated all the six winds of earth.



For a long time Raven lived alone, but finally became tired of it and
decided to take a wife. It was late in the fall and he noticed that
the birds were going south in large flocks. He flew away and stopped
directly in the path taken by geese and other wild fowl on their way
to the land of summer.

As he sat there he saw a pretty young goose coming near. He hid his
face by looking at his feet, so that she would not know but that he
was a black goose, and called out, "Who wishes me for a husband? I am
a very nice person."

The goose flew on without heeding him and he looked after her and
sighed. Soon after a black brant passed, and Raven cried out as
before, but the brant flew on. Again he waited and this time a duck
passed near, and when Raven cried out she turned her head a little.

"Oh, I shall succeed this time," thought Raven, and his heart beat
fast with hope. But the duck passed on, and Raven stood waiting with
bowed head.

Very soon a family of white-front geese came along, consisting of the
parents with four sons and a sister. Raven cried out, "Who wishes me
for a husband? I am a fine hunter and am young and handsome."

As he finished speaking they alighted just beyond him, and he thought,
"Surely, now I shall get a wife." He looked about and found a pretty
white stone with a hole in it lying near. He picked it up and,
stringing it on a long grass stem, hung it about his neck.

As soon as he had done this he pushed up his bill so that it slid to
the top of his head like a mask, and he became a dark-colored young
man. At the same time each of the geese pushed up its bill in the same
manner, and they became nice-looking people.

Raven walked toward them, and was much pleased with the looks of the
girl and, going to her, gave her the stone which she hung about her
neck. By doing this she showed that she accepted him for her husband.
Then they all pulled down their bills, becoming birds again, and flew
away toward the south.

The geese flapped their wings heavily and worked along slowly, while
Raven on his outspread wings glided along faster than his party, and
the geese gazed after him in admiration, exclaiming, "How light and
graceful he is!" and the little bride was very proud of her fine

But Raven was not accustomed to the long, all-day flights of the
geese, and he became tired.

"We would better stop early and look for a good place to spend the
night," he said. The others agreed to this, so they stopped and were
soon asleep.

Early the next morning the geese were astir, but Raven slept so
heavily that the father goose had to shake him and say, "Wake up! Wake
up! We must make haste for it will snow here soon; we must not

As soon as Raven was fully awake he pretended to be eager to get away,
and, as on the day before, he led all the others with his wide-spread
wings, and was greatly admired by the others, especially by his young
wife. He kept on, above or in front of his companions, and his bride
would often say, "See how gracefully he skims along without having to
flop heavy wings as we do," and she gave her brothers a side glance
which made them feel that she was contrasting their clumsiness with
his ease. After that tactless remark, the four brothers-in-law began
to feel envious of Raven.

       *       *       *       *       *

They stopped one evening on the seashore, where they feasted upon the
berries which were plentiful there, and then they settled down for the
night and fell asleep. In the morning the geese were making ready to
start without waiting for breakfast, and Raven's stomach cried out for
more of the berries. But father goose said they could not wait, and he
dared not object to starting. The brothers-in-law had secretly urged
the father not to wait, for they said, "Our sister needs to have some
of the conceit about that husband of hers taken out of her; and so
does he."

Raven dreaded the long flight across the sea, for he heard father
goose say, "We will make only one stop in crossing this water. There
is an island in the center of it, and there we will rest for a short
time and then go on to the farther shore."

Raven was ashamed to say that he feared he could never reach that
farther shore, so he determined to keep still and risk it; and off
they all flew.

The geese kept steadily on and on. After a long time Raven began to
fall behind. His wide-spread wings ached, yet the geese kept steadily
and untiringly on. His vanity was no longer gratified by admiring
remarks from his companions, for he was flapping heavily along.
Sometimes he would glide on outspread pinions for a time, hoping to
ease his tired wings, but he fell farther and farther behind.

Finally the geese looked back and the brothers said, sarcastically,
"We thought he was light and active." The father goose said, "He must
be getting tired. We must not press him too hard. We will rest."

The geese sank upon the water close together, and Raven came laboring
up and dropped upon their backs, gasping for breath. In a short time
he partially recovered and, putting one hand on his breast, said, "I
have an arrow-head here from an old war I was in, and it pains me
greatly; that is the reason I fell behind."

He had his wife put her hand on his breast to feel the arrow-head
which he declared was working its way into his heart. She could feel
nothing but his heart beating like a trip-hammer with no sign of an
arrow-point. But she said nothing, for her brothers were whispering,
"We don't believe that story about the arrow-point! How could he live
with an arrow in his heart?"

They rested two or three times more, he sinking upon their backs as
before; but when they saw the far-off shore before them father goose
said, "We can wait for you no more," for they were eager to reach the
land and find food.

They all arose and flew on, Raven slowly flapping along behind, for
his wings felt heavy. The geese kept steadily on toward the shore,
while he sank lower and lower, getting nearer to the dreaded water.
When the waves were almost touching him he shrieked to his wife:

"Leave me the white stone; it has magical powers. Throw me the white

Thus he kept crying until suddenly his wings lost their power and he
floated helplessly on the water as the geese gained the shore. He
tried to rise from the water but his wings seemed to be weighted down,
and he drifted back and forth along the beach. The waves arose and one
whitecap after another broke over him till he was soaked, and it was
only with the greatest difficulty that he could get his beak above the
surface to breathe a little between the billows.

After a long time a great wave cast him upon the land, and as it
flowed back he dug his claws into the sand to save himself from being
dragged back into the sea. As soon as he was able he struggled up the
beach, an unhappy looking object. The water ran in streams from his
soaked feathers and his wings dragged on the ground. He fell several
times, and at last, with wide-gaping mouth, he reached some bushes. As
soon as he could get his breath he took off his raven coat and pushed
up his beak, becoming a small, dark-colored man.

"From this time on, forevermore I'm done with being a goose," he



Near the mouth of the Yukon grows a tall, slender kind of grass which
the women gather and dry in the fall and use for braiding mats and
baskets and for pads in the soles of skin boots.

One of these grass stalks that had been almost pulled out by the roots
when the women were gathering others, did not like the fate in store
for it.

"Why should I stay on in this shape and never become anything but a
pad in the sole of a boot to be trodden on forever? It must be nicer
to be the one who treads on the pad; but since I cannot be that, I
will at least be something better than grass."

Looking about, it spied a bunch of herbs growing close by, looking so
quiet and unmolested that the grass stem said, "I will be an herb;
that is a higher and safer life than this."

At once it was changed into an herb like those it had envied, and for
a time it remained in peace. But one day the women came back with
baskets and picks and began to dig up these herbs and eat some of the
roots, putting others into the baskets to take home. The changed plant
was left standing when the women went home toward evening, but it had
seen the fate of its companions.

"This is not very safe either, for now I should be eaten. I wish I had
chosen some other form," it said.

Looking down, it saw a tiny, creeping vine clinging close to the
ground. "That is the thing to be," it said. "That is so obscure and
lowly that the women will never notice it. I will be a vine like

Without delay it became a little squawberry vine nestling under the
dead leaves. It had not lived in peace and seclusion very long before
the women came and tore up many of the vines, stopping just before
they reached the changeling, and saying, "We will come back to-morrow
and get the rest."

The one-time grass plant was filled with fear, and changed itself
quickly into a small tuber-bearing plant like some that were growing
near. Scarcely had the change been made when a small tundra mouse came
softly through the grass and began digging at a neighboring plant,
holding up the tuber in its paws and nibbling it, after which the
mouse crept on again.

"To be safe, I must be a mouse," thought the changeling. "Animals are
a higher kind of being than plants, anyway. I will be a mouse."

Instantly it became a mouse and ran off, glad of the change. Now and
then it would pause to dig up a tuber, or would sit up on its hind
feet to look around on the new scenes that came into view.

"This is much more delightful than being a plant and always staying in
one place and never seeing anything of the world," it said.

While traveling nimbly along in this manner, the mouse observed a
strange white animal coming through the air toward it, which kept
dropping down upon the ground, and after stopping to eat something, it
would fly on again.

When it came near, the mouse saw that it was a great white owl. At the
same moment the owl saw the mouse and swooped down upon it. Darting
off, the mouse was fortunate enough to escape by running into a hole
made by one of its kind, and the owl flew off.

After a while the mouse ventured to come out of its shelter, though
its heart still beat painfully from its recent fright. "I will be an
owl, and in that way be safe," thought the mouse, and with the wish it
was changed into a beautiful white owl.

"Oh, this is fine!" he said. "It is glorious to fly through the air,
and go up almost to the sky where I can look down on all the world.
I'm glad that I was not content to stay always down in the dirt."

With slow, noiseless wing flaps the owl set off toward the north,
pausing every now and then to catch and eat a mouse. After a long
flight Sledge Island came in view and the owl thought it would go
there. When far out at sea its untried wings became so tired that only
with the greatest difficulty did it manage to reach the shore, where
it perched upon a piece of driftwood that stood up in the sand.

In a short time it saw two fine-looking men pass along the shore, and
the old feeling of discontent arose again. "Those men were talking in
a better-sounding language than mine. They seemed to understand each
other, and they laughed and were having a good time. I will be a man."

With a single flap of wing it stood upon the ground, where it changed
immediately into a fine young man. But, of course, the feathers were
gone and the Man had no clothing. Night came down upon the earth soon
after, and the Man sat down with his back against the stick of wood on
which, as an owl, he had perched, and slept till morning. He was
awakened by the sun shining in his eyes, and upon arising, felt stiff
and lame from the cold night air.

He found some of the same grass which he had once been, and braided it
into a kind of mantle which kept out a little of the cold. Seeing a
reindeer grazing, he felt a sudden desire to kill it and eat its
flesh. He crept close on his hands and knees, and, springing forward,
seized it by the horns and broke its neck with a single effort.

He felt all over its body and found that its skin formed a covering
through which he could not push his fingers. For a long time he tried
to think how to remove the skin, and finally noticed a stone with a
sharp edge with which he managed to cut through the hide. Then he
quickly stripped the animal with his hands, and tore out a piece of
flesh which he tried to swallow as he had swallowed mice when he was
an owl. He found that he could not do this easily, so he tore off
small bits and ground them with his teeth.

He had already discovered that by striking two stones together they
grew warm and felt good to his cold hands. So now he struck them
together until sparks came with which he lighted some dry weeds and
brush and had a fire to cook his meat and to warm himself.

The next morning he killed another reindeer and the day following two
more and wrapped himself in their skins from head to foot, with the
raw side next his own flesh, as the animals had worn them. The skins
soon dried on him and became like a part of his body.

As the nights grew colder and colder, he collected a quantity of
driftwood from the shore, with which he built him a rude hut, which he
found very comfortable. Walking over the hills one day he came near to
a strange, black animal eating berries from the bushes. He crept up to
it and grasped it by its hind legs. With an angry growl it turned to
face him, showing its white teeth. He knew then that he must not let
go his hold of it, so he swung it high over his head and brought it
down on the ground with such force that the bear lay dead.

In skinning the bear he saw that it contained much fat, and that he
might have a light in his house if he could find something that would
hold the grease and yet not take fire itself. Going along the beach he
found a long, flat stone with a hollow in one surface, and in this
the oil remained very well, and with a lighted moss wick he found it
much pleasanter to get about his house at night. The bearskin he hung
up for a curtain to his door to keep out the cold wind.

In this way he lived for many days, but he was a human being now, and
needed human society. He remembered the two young men he had seen on
the beach when, as an owl, he sat on the post on the shore.

"Two men passed here once, and I liked them," said he. "They may live
not far from here. I should like to see someone like myself. I will go
seek them."

He went in search of people. Wandering along the coast for some
distance he came to two fine new kayaks lying at the foot of a hill,
and in the kayaks were spears, lines, floats, and other hunting
implements. After examining these curiously, he noticed a path leading
up to a hill. He followed the path and on the top of the hill he found
a house with two storehouses near it and several recently killed white
whales and many skulls around it.

Wishing to see the people in the house before showing himself, he went
with noiseless steps into the entrance way and up to the door.
Cautiously lifting one corner of the skin curtain that hung in the
doorway, he looked in. Opposite the doorway was a young man sitting at
work on some arrows, while a bow lay beside him. He dropped the
curtain and stood for some time in doubt as to how to proceed.

"If I enter the house he may shoot me before I have time to make known
my good will," thought he. But in the end he thought, "If I enter and
say, 'I have come, brother,' he will not hurt me." So, raising the
curtain quickly, he entered.

The householder at once seized the bow and drew an arrow to the head
just as the intruder said, "I have come, brother." At this the bow and
arrow were dropped and the young man cried out with delight, "Are you
my brother? Come and sit beside me."

This the newcomer very gladly did, and the householder showed his
pleasure and asked, "Are you really my brother? I am very glad to see
you, brother, for I always believed I had one somewhere, though I
never could find him. Where have you lived? Have you known any
parents? How did you grow up?"

"No, I have never known any parents. I never was born and never grew
up. I just found myself a man standing on the seashore. There I built
me a house and made myself as comfortable as I could; but I was
lonely, so I came to find you."

"I also never had any parents that I can recall. My earliest
recollection was of finding myself alone in this house, where I have
lived ever since, killing game for food. I was alone until this friend
came to stay with me. Now you, my brother, shall live here too, and we
will never be parted again."

       *       *       *       *       *

And thus, by always striving to be something higher, the downtrodden
grass plant became a MAN.


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