Music: Buffalo Soldiers by The Native American Flute Ensemble
|Beaver and Porcupine
A Tlingit Legend
The beaver and the porcupine were great friends and went about everywhere together.. The porcupine often visited the beaver's house, but the latter
did not like to have him come because he left quills there. One time, when the porcupine said that he wanted to go out to the beaver's house, the beaver
said, "All right, I will take you out on my back." He started, but instead of going to his house he took him to a stump in the very middle of the lake.
Then he said to him, "This is my house," left him there, and went ashore.
While the porcupine was upon this stump he began singing a song, "Let it become frozen. Let it become frozen so that I can cross to Wolverine-man's
place." He meant that he wanted to walk ashore on the ice. So the surface of the lake froze, and he walked home.
Some time after this, when the two friends were again playing together, the porcupine said, "You come now. It is my turn to carry you on my back."
Then the beaver got on the porcupine's back, and the porcupine took him to the top of a very high tree, after which he came down and left him. For a
long time the beaver did not know how to get down, but finally he climbed down, and they say that this is what gives the broken appearance to tree
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|How Mosquitoes Came To Be
A Tlingit Legend
Long time ago there was a giant who loved to kill humans, eat their flesh, and drink their blood. He was especially fond of human hearts.
"unless we can get rid of the giant," people said, "none of us will be left." and they called a council to discuss ways and means. One man said, "I think I
know how to kill the monster," and he went to the place where the giant had last been seen. There he lay down and pretended to be dead.
Soon the giant came along. Seeing the man lying there, he said: "These humans are making it easy for me. Now I don't even have to catch and kill
them; they die right on my trail, probably from fear of me!" The giant touched the body. "Ah, good," he said, "this one is still warm and fresh. What a
tasty meal he'll make; I can't wait to roast his heart." The giant flung the man over his shoulder, and the man let his head hang down as if he were
Carrying the man home, the giant dropped him in the middle of the floor right near the fireplace. Then he saw that there was no firewood, and went
to get some. As soon as the monster had left, the man got up and grabbed the giant's huge skinning knife.
Just then the giant's son came in, bending low to enter. He was still small as giants go, and the man held the big knife to his throat. "Quick, tell me,
where's your father's heart? Tell me or I'll slit your throat!" The giant's son was scared. He said: "My father's heart is in his left heel."
Just then the giant's left foot appeared in the entrance, and the man swiftly plunged the knife into the heel. The monster screamed and fell down dead.
Yet, the giant still spoke. "Though I'm dead, though you killed me, I'm going to keep on eating you and all the humans in the world forever!"
"That's what you think!" said the man. "I'm about to make sure that you never eat anyone again." He cut the giant's body into pieces and burned
each one in the fire. Then he took the ashes and threw them into the air for the winds to scatter. Instantly each if the particles turned into a mosquito.
The cloud of ashes became a cloud of mosquitoes, and from their midst the man heard the giant's voice laughing, saying: "Yes, I'll eat you people until
the end of time." As the monster spoke, the man felt a sting, and a mosquito started sucking his blood, and then many mosquitoes stung him, and he
began to scratch himself.
|Inviting the Bears
A Tlingit Legend
An old man living in Alaska had lost all of his friends and family, and he felt sad to think that he was left alone. He began to wonder whether he
should leave and start a new life in another village. But he worried, "If I paddle away to another village and the people there see that I am alone, they
may think that I've run away from my own village because I was accused of some disgraceful thing." Instead, he thought that he would go off by
himself into the forest.
While this man was traveling along the woods the thought occurred to him to go to the bears and let the bears kill him. The village was at the mouth
of a large salmon creek, so he went over to the creek early in the morning until he found a bear trail and lay down across the end of it. He thought
that when the bears came out along this trail they would find and kill him.
By and by, as he lay there, he heard the bushes breaking and saw a large number of grizzly bears coming along. The largest bear led the rest, and the
tips of his hairs were white. Then the old man became frightened. He suddenly realized he did not want to die a hard death and imagined himself
being torn to pieces among the bears. So when the leading bear came up to him, he stood up and announced: "I have come to invite you to a feast."
At that the bear's fur stood straight up, and the old man thought that he was done for, but he spoke again saying, "I have come to invite you to a feast,
but if you are going to kill me, I am willing to die. I am alone. I have lost all my family, my property, and my friends."
As soon as he had said this the leading bear turned about and whined to the bears that were following. Then he started back and the rest followed
him. Afterward the man got up and walked toward his village very fast. He imagined that the biggest bear had told his people to go back because
they were invited to a feast.
When he got home he began to clean up. The old sand around the fireplace he took away and replaced with clean sand. Then he went for a load of
wood. When he told the other people in that village what he was doing and why, they were all very much frightened and said to him, "What made you
do such a thing? The grizzlies are our enemy." after that the man took off his shirt, and painted himself up, putting stripes of red across his upper arm
muscles, a stripe over his heart, and another one across the upper part of his chest.
Very early in the morning, after he had thus prepared, he stood outside of the door looking for his bears. Finally he saw them at the mouth of the
creek, led by the same big grizzly bear. When the other village people saw them, however, they were so terrified that they shut themselves in their
houses. But the old man stood by his door to receive them. Then he brought them into the house and gave them seats, placing the chief in the middle at
the rear of the house and the rest around him.
First he served them large trays of cranberries preserved in grease. The large bear seemed to say something to his companions, and as soon as he
began to eat the rest started. They watched him and did whatever he did. The host followed that up with other kinds of food, and, after they were
through, the large bear seemed to talk to him for a very long time. The man thought that he was delivering a speech, for he would look up at the
smoke hole every now and then and act as though he were talking. When he finished he started out and the rest followed. As they went out each in
turn licked the paint from their host's atms and breast. The old man felt as though they were licking his sorrow away.
The day after all this happened the smallest bear came back in human form, and spoke to the old man in his native language, Tlingit. He had been a
human being who was captured and adopted by the bears. This bear-man asked the old man if he had understood their chief, and he said, "No."
"He was telling you," the bear-man replied, "that he is in the same condition as you. He, too, is old and has lost all of his friends. He had heard of you
before he saw you. He told you to think of him when you are mourning for your lost ones."
When the man asked this person why he had not told him what was said the day before, he replied that he was not allowed to speak his native
language while the chief was around.
It was on account of this adventure that henceforth the old people, whenever they killed a grizzly bear, would paint stripes across its skin. Also, when
they gave a feast, no matter if a person were their enemy, they would invite him to the feast and become friends just as this old man did with the bears.
A Tlingit Legend
In a time before there were any killer whales there lived a very able sea lion hunter and a highly skilled carver named Natsilane. He was from Kake
and when he took as his wife the daughter of a chief on Duke Island, he decided to live among her people. He was accepted into her family and because
he tried hard to prove himself, he soon had a place of honor as an accomplished hunter and spear carver.
His desire to please won him the admiration of the youngest of his brothers-in-law but the oldest ones misunderstood his intentions and became
jealous and so began to plot against him. The men decided to get even with Natsilane on the day of the big seal hunt.
After much preparation, the day of the big hunt arrived and Natsilane along with his four new brothers paddled their canoe toward West Devil Rock,
out in the open straits. The wind was blowing fiercely and the waves were high but Natsilane was determined that the hunt would be successful.
When the canoe neared the rocks, he leaped toward the shore and plunged his spear into the nearest sea lion before it could escape. Unfortunately, the
point broke off and the lion slipped into the water. Worse yet, Natsilane saw that his brothers, over the fierce objections of the youngest, were
paddling away -abandoning him on the deserted island with no food or weapons. Their betrayal stung him deeply and after a time, he pulled his
cloak up over his head and fell asleep.
Natsilane awoke the next morning to the sound of his name. He saw a sea lion that looked like a man beckoning to him to go with him down beneath
the waves into the Sea Lion's Hose. At the great house he met the chief of the sea lions who asked him if he could help his injured son. Natsilane saw
that the young lion had his spear point embedded in his body and with some effort was able to remove it and the son was healed.
The chief was very grateful and after granting Natsilane even greater skills, arranged for his safe return to the village.
Natsilane met with his wife and after telling her his story, he made her promise to keep his return a secret. He took with him his carving tools and
went into the woods to carry out a plan of revenge on the older brothers-in-law who had betrayed him. Remembering the Sea-Lion Chief's promise,
he asked him for help and began carving a large black fish, a killer whale of spruce the likes of which had never been seen before. After three tries and
much improvement in his carving skills, he fashioned a whale of yellow cedar and when launched, came to life and swam out to sea.
He called the black fish to him and ordered it to find his brothers-in-law when they returned from their hunting, destroy them and their boat but spare
the youngest boy. The black fish set out and found them late that afternoon. Black fish capsized the boat breaking it in two and drowned the older
three brothers by keeping them from the shore. The youngest made it back safely along with his story of the great black fish and his brothers'
The villagers now came to wonder if Natsilane had carved the great black fish and given it life. Not long afterward, a strange black fish with teeth
was seen near the shore and at times would leave a freshly killed seal or halibut there for the villagers. Natsilane had instructed it never again to
harm humans but instead, to help them. As he continued to help the villagers, they realized that the "Killer Whale" was a gift from Natsilane and so
they took it for their crest. Natsilane became a legend to their village and some have claimed to have seen him riding the seas on the backs of two
great black fish.
No one knows just how the story of Raven really begins so each starts from the point where he does know it. Here it was always begun in this way....
When Raven was born his father tried to instruct him and train him in every way and after he grew up, told him he would give him strength to make a
world. After trying in all sons of ways Raven finally succeeded. Then there was no light in this world, but it was told him that far up the Nass was a
large house in which someone kept light just for himself.
Raven thought over all kinds of plans for getting this light to the world and finally he hit on a good one. The rich man living there had a daughter, and
he thought, "I will make myself very small and drop into the water in the form of a small piece of dirt." The girl swallowed this dirt and became
When her time was completed, they made a hole for her as was customary in which she was to bring forth, and lined it with rich furs of all sorts. But
the child did not wish to be born on those fine things. Then its grandfather felt sad and said, "What do you think it would be best to put into the hole?
Shall we put in moss?" So they put moss inside and the baby Was born on it. Its eyes were very bright and moved around rapidly.
Round bundles of varying shapes and sizes hung about on the walls of the house. When the child became a little larger it crawled around back of the
people weeping continually, and as it cried it pointed to the bundles. This lasted many days. Then its grandfather said, "Give my grandchild what he
is crying for. Give him that one hanging on the end. That is the bag of stars."
So the child played with this, rolling it about on the floor back of the people, until suddenly he let it go up through the smoke hole. It went straight up
into the sky and the stars scattered out of it, arranging themselves as you now see them. That was what he went there for.
Some time after this he began crying again, and he cried so much that it was thought he would die. Then his grandfather said, "Untie the next one and
give it to him." He played and played with it around behind his mother. After a while he let that go up through the smoke hole also, and there was the
Now just one thing more remained, the box that held the daylight, and he cried for that. His eyes turned around and, showed different colors, and the
people began thinking that he must be something other than an ordinary baby. But it always happens that a grandfather loves his grandchild just as
he does his own daughter, so the grandfather said, "Untie the last thing and give it to him." His grandfather felt very sad when he gave this to him.
When the child had this in his hands, he uttered the raven cry, "Ga," and flew out with it through the smoke hole. Then the person from whom he had
stolen it said, "That old manuring raven has gotten all of my things."
Journeying on, Raven was told of another place, where a man had an everlasting spring of water. This man was named Petrel [Ganu'k]. Raven
wanted this water because there was none to drink in this world, but Petrel always slept by his spring, and he had a cover over it so as to keep it all to
himself. Then Raven came in and said to him, "My brother-in-law, I have just come to see you. How are you?" He told Petrel of all kinds of things
that were happening outside, trying to induce him to go out to look for them, but Petrel was too smart for him and refused.
When night came, Raven said, "I am going to sleep with you, brother-in-law." So they went to bed, and toward morning Raven heard Petrel sleeping
very soundly. Then he went outside, took some dog manure and put it around Petrel's buttocks. When it was beginning to grow light, he said, "Wake
up, wake up, wake up, brother-in-law, you have defecated all over your clothes." Petrel got up, looked at himself, and thought it was true, so he took
his blankets and went outside. Then Raven went over to Petrel's spring, took off the cover and began drinking. After he had drunk almost all of the
water, Petrel came in and saw him. Then Raven flew straight up crying "Ga."
Before he got through the smoke hole, however, Petrel said, "My spirits up the smoke hole, catch him." So Raven stuck there, and Petrel put pitchwood
on the fire under him so as to make a quantity of smoke. Raven was white before that time, but the smoke made him of the color you find him today.
Still he did not drop the water. When the smoke-hole spirits let him go, he flew around the nearest point and rubbed himself all over so as to clear off
as much of the soot as possible.
This happened somewhere about the Nass, and afterwards he started up this way. First he let some water fall from his mouth and made the Nass. By
and by he spit more out and made the Stikine. Next he spit out Taku river, then Chilkat, then Alsek, and all the other large rivers. The small drops that
came out of his mouth made the small salmon creeks.
After this Raven went on again and came to a large town where were people who had never seen daylight. They were out catching eulachon in the
darkness when he came to the bank opposite, and he asked them to take him across but they would not. Then he said to them, "If you don't come over
I will have daylight break on you." But they answered, "Where are you from? Do you come from far up the Nass where lives the man who has
At this Raven opened his box just a little and shed so great a light on them that were nearly thrown down. He shut it quickly, but they quarreled with
him so much across the creed that he became angry and opened the box completely, when the sun flew up into the sky. Then those people who had
sea-otter or fur-seal skins, or the skins of any other sea animals, went into the ocean, while those who had land-otter, bear, or marten skins, or the
skins of any other land animals went into the woods, becoming the animals whose skins they wore.
|Raven and How The Tides Began
A Tlingit Legend
Once, long ago, when the world was new, there was Raven. Raven and his people lived near the shore of the Big Water. At this time there were no
tides, and the people would get their food from the Big Water, as sometimes good things to eat like clams, would wash up along the shore. But the
people could not go out into the Big Water, for it was very deep. After a while, the people became many and soon there was not enough food for all the
people and for Raven. You see, Raven was sometimes very greedy and loved to eat the good things that washed up on the shore.
Now Raven was sorely troubled that there was not enough to eat and fill his hungry belly. Raven sat down and began to think about this problem.
Soon Raven fell into a deep sleep. Great Spirit having pity upon the people came to Raven in a dream and said to Raven, "Raven, I have seen that you
and the people are suffering because there is not enough to eat. There lies at the end of the world, at the edge of the Big Water, a cave. In this cave sits
an old woman who holds the tide line across her lap. This controls the ebb and flow or rising and falling of the water. She holds this line very
strongly. If, perhaps, you can get her to let go of the line, the water will fall and the people will be able to get some of the good things to eat from the
Big Water because they will be uncovered by the water. This will not be easy for you to do, Raven, for the woman holds the line very tightly. Raven,
you are clever and perhaps you can trick her into letting go of the line.
Soon Raven awoke from his dream. Raven knew what he must do to help the people and to feed his hungry belly.
So Raven flew. He flew and flew. For four days and nights Raven flew. Finally Raven came to the cave at the end of the world, at the edge of the Big
Raven looked and saw the old woman sitting in the cave with the line across her lap. She was holding it very tightly.
Raven began walking in front of the cave; rubbing his belly, and saying in a loud voice, "Mmm, Mmm those clams sure were good!"
The old woman heard Raven just outside the cave and leaned a little forward to see Raven, saying, "Raven, Raven! Where did you get those clams?"
Raven paid no attention to the woman and walked again in front of the cave, rubbing his belly and saying in a loud voice, "Mmm, Mmm those clams
sure tasted good! I wish I had some more!"
The old woman leaned forward even further and said, "Raven, Raven! Where did you get those clams?"
Raven again paid no attention to the woman. He walked again in front of the cave, rubbing his belly and saying, "Mmm, Mmm! I sure wish I had
some more of those clams!!"
The old woman leaned even further forward. Suddenly, Raven kicked some sand up into the woman's eyes. She could not see, and tried to brush the
sand out of her eyes. When she did, she let go of the line! The waters fell back and soon some of the Big Water was uncovered. Raven saw what had
happened and was happy. He flew home thinking of all of the good things that he would soon be eating.
When Raven arrived home the people were happy. Now they had many good things to eat from the Big Water. They thanked Raven and Great Spirit
for helping them and held a big feast. Raven was happy because his belly was soon full of the good things that he loved to eat.
For many days, Raven and his people ate all the good things from the Big Water. But soon many of the creatures of the Big Water began to die. They
lie on the shore and began to rot and smell. The people went to Raven and said, "Raven, you must do something! The creatures of the Big Water are
dying! We will also die for we will soon have nothing to eat! Help us, Raven!"
So raven flew. He flew and flew. For four days and nights he flew to the end of the world, at the edge of the Big Water, to the cave of the woman who
held the tide.
When Raven got there, he looked into the cave. The woman was still trying to get the sand out of her eyes. She heard Raven approach and said,
"Raven, Raven! Is that you? You tricked me! Help me get the sand out of my eyes, and help me to find the tide line!"
Raven said, "Yes, I did trick you. I wanted to get all of the good things from the Big Water that I love to eat. So I tricked you into letting go and the
waters fell. But now, the creatures of the Big Water are dying, and the people have little to eat. If I help you, will you help the people by letting go of the
tide line from time to time? Then the people will be able to get some of the good things from the Big Water that they like to eat. And the creatures of the
Big Water will not die because the waters that are their home do not cover them."
The old woman said, "Yes, Raven, I agree, if you will help me, I will help the people."
So Raven cleared the sand out of the woman's eyes, sat her back in the cave and gave her the tide line to hold across her lap. From time to time the
woman would let go of the line and the waters would fall back. Raven then flew back home to his people, who gave thanks to Raven for helping them.
And that is how the tides began.
|The Arrow Chain
A Tlingit Legend
Two very high-caste boys were chums. The father of one was town chief and had his house in the middle of the village, but the house of the other boy's
father stood at one end.
These boys would go alternately to each other's houses and make great quantities of arrows which they would play with until all were broken up.
One time both of the boys made a great quantity of arrows to see which could have the more. Just back of their village was a hill on the top of which
was a smooth grassy place claimed by the boys as their playground, and on a certain fine, moonlight night they started thither.
As they were going along the lesser chief's son, who was ahead, said, "Look here, friend. Look at that moon. Don't you think that the shape of that
moon is the same as that of my mother's labret and the the size is the same, too?" The other answered, "Don't: You must not talk that way of the
Then suddenly it became very dark about them and presently the head chief's son saw a ring about them just like a rainbow. When it disappeared his
companion was gone. He called and called to him but did not get any answer and did not see him. He thought, "He must have run up the hill to get
away from that rainbow." He looked up and saw the moon in the sky. Then he climbed the hill, and looked about, but his friend was not there.
Now he thought, "Well, the moon must have gone up with him. That circular rainbow must have been the moon."
The boy thus left alone sat down and cried, after which he began to try the bows. He put strings on them one after the other and tried them, but every
one broke. He broke all of his own bows and all of his and his chum's except one which was made of very hard wood.
He thought, "Now I am going to shoot that star next to the moon." In that spot was a large and very bright one. He shot an arrow at this star and sat
down to watch, when, sure enough, the star darkened. Now he began shooting at that star from the big piles of arrows he and his chum had made,
and he was encouraged by seeing that the arrows did not come back.
After he had shot for some time he saw something hanging down very near him and, when he shot up another arrow, it stuck to this. The next did
likewise, and at last the chain of arrows reached him. He put a last one on to complete it.
Now the youth felt badly for the loss of his friend and, lying down under the arrow chain, he went to sleep. After a while he awoke, found himself
sleeping on that hill, remembered the arrows he had shot away, and looked up. Instead of the arrows there was a long ladder reaching right down to
him. He arose and looked so as to make sure. Then he determined to ascend.
First, however, he took various kinds of bushes and stuck them into the knot of hair he wore on his head. He climbed up his ladder all day and camped
at nightfall upon it, resuming his journey the following morning. When he awoke early on the second morning his head felt very heavy. Then he
seized the salmon berry bush that was in his hair, pulled it out, and found it was loaded with berries.
After he had eaten the berries off, he stuck the branch back into his hair and felt very mush strengthened. About noon of the same day he again felt
hungry, and again his head was heavy, so he pulled out a bush from the other side of his head and it was loaded with blue huckleberries. It was already
summer there in the sky.
That was why he was getting berries. When he resumed his journey next morning his head did not feel heavy until noon. At that time he pulled out the
bush at the back of his head and found it loaded with red huckleberries.
By the time he had reached the top the boy was very tired. He looked around and saw a large lake. Then he gathered some soft brush and some moss
and lay down to sleep. But, while he slept, some person came to him and shook him saying, "Get up. I am after you." He awoke and looked around
but saw no one. Then he rolled over and pretended to go to sleep again but looked out through his eyelashes.
By and by he saw a very small but handsome girl coming along. Her skin clothes were very clean and neat, and her leggings were ornamented with
porcupine quills. Just as she reached out to shake him he said, "I have seen you already."
Now the girl stood still and said, "I have come after you. My grandmother has sent me to bring you to her house." So he went with her, and they came
to a very small house in which was an old woman. The old woman said, "What is it you came way up here after, my grandson?" and the boy
answered, "On account of my playmate who was taken up hither." "Oh!" answered the old woman. "He is next door, only a short distance away. I
can hear him crying every day. He is in the moon's house."
Then the old woman began to give him food. She would put her hand up to her mouth, and a salmon or whatever she was going to give would make
its appearance. After the salmon she gave him berries and then meat, for she knew that he was hungry from his long journey. After that she gave him
a spruce cone, a rose bush, a piece of devil's club, and a small piece of whetstone to take along.
As the boy was going toward the moon's house with all of these things he heard his playmate screaming with pain. He had been put up on a high place
near the smoke hole, so, when his rescuer came to it, he climbed on top, and, reaching down through the smoke hole, pulled him out. He said, "My
friend, come. I am here to help you." Putting the spruce cone down where the boy had been, he told it to imitate his cries, and he and his chum ran
After a while, however, the cone dropped from the place where it had been put, and the people discovered that their captive had escaped. Then the moon
started in pursuit. When the head chief's son discovered this, he threw behind them the devil's club he had received from the old woman, and a patch of
devil's club arose which the moon has so much trouble in getting through that they gained rapidly on him.
When the moon again approached, the head chief's son threw back the rose bushes, and such a thicket of roses grew there that the moon was again
delayed. When he approached them once more, they threw back the grindstone, and it became a high cliff from which the moon kept rolling back. It is
on account of this cliff that people can say things about the moon nowadays with impunity. When the boys reached the old woman's house they were
very glad to see each other, for before this they had not had time to speak.
The old woman gave them something to eat, and, when they were through, she said to the rescuer, "Go and lie down at the place where you lay when
you first came up. Don't think of anything but the playground you used to have." They went there and lay down, but after some time the boy who had
first been captured thought of the old woman's house and immediately they found themselves there.
Then the old woman said, "Go back and do not think of me any more. Lie there and think of nothing but the place where you used to play." They did
so, and, when they awoke, they were lying on their playground at the foot of the ladder.
As the boys lay in that place they heard a drum beating in the head chief's house, where a death feast was being held for them, and the head chief's son
said, "Let us go," but the other answered, "No, let us wait here until that feast is over." Afterward the boys went down and watched the people come out
with their faces all blackened. They stood at a corner, but, as this dance is always given in the evening, they were not seen.
Then the head chief's son thought, "I wish my younger brother would come out," and sure enough, after all of the other people had gone, his younger
brother came out. He called to his brother saying, "Come here. It is I," but the child was afraid and ran into the house instead. Then the child said to
his mother, "My brother and his friend are out here."
"Why do you talk like that?" asked his mother. "Don't you know that your brother died some time ago?" And she became very angry. The child,
however, persisted, saying, "I know his voice, and I know him."
His mother was now very much disturbed, so the boy said, "I am going to go out and bring in a piece of his shirt." "Go and do so," said his mother.
"Then I will believe you."
When the boy at last brought in a piece of his brother's shirt his mother was convinced, and they sent word into all of the houses, first of all into that of
the second boy's parents, but they kept both with them so that his parents could come there and rejoice over him. All of the other people in that village
also came to see them.
|The Star Shooter
A Tlingit Legend
A long time ago, in a Tlingit village, there lived two boys who were best friends. One was the chief's son and the other one's father was also a very
important man. The two boys played together all the time. What they liked to do best was play pretend hunting games. They both had bows and they
knew how to make arrows. One day, instead of playing hunting, they decided to see how many arrows they could make in a day. By evening they had
made a great pile of them. They carried their arrows towards a hill where they often played.
It was a full moon that night, and the chief's son said, "Look at that full moon. It is so beautiful tonight. You can see the moon's face so clearly."
"Huh!" said his friend. "You can see it clearly and it sure is ugly."
"You shouldn't talk like that," said the chief's son. "The moon will hear and be upset."
Suddenly, the moon was no longer shining. Even though the stars were still out, the sky was very, very dark. Then, Whoosh! A rainbow swirled
around the two boys. It was so light, they could hardly see. Then just as suddenly, the rainbow was gone and the sky was dark again.
The chief's son turned to talk to his friend, but his friend was gone. Maybe he ran up the hill to get away from the light, the chief's son thought. So he
went up the hill. His friend was not there. Just then, the moon started shining again. Uh-oh, thought the chief's son. I bet that rainbow was the moon
and has taken my friend to his house. How in the world can I rescue him" If only I could shoot an arrow that high.
Well, he thought, there's no harm in trying. The chief's son put an arrow in his bow and shot it straight up into the sky. It didn't come back down, and
he saw a dark spot appear on the star next to the moon. He had that whole, huge stack of arrows next to him, so he shot another arrow, and another,
and another. None of them came down, so he kept on shooting. The stack was getting shorter and shorter. He wasn't sure where his arrows were
going, but when he shot the next arrow, he looked up, and he could see the back of that arrow. They were all sticking together in a long chain. He kept
shooting until he could reach the bottom arrow.
Now, if I could only climb it, he thought, but my arms are much too tired to climb to the moon after shooting all those arrows. So the chief's son laid
down and went to sleep.
When he woke up, where that chain of arrows had been there was a ladder. Now he could climb up to that star next to the moon and from there he
could surely get to the moon. He knew it would be a long journey. He was afraid if he went home to get some food, the ladder would be gone, so he
pulled up three berry bushes and stuck them in his hair. Then he started climbing.
He climbed all day, and when, night came, he just slept on the ladder.
When he woke up the next morning, he was hungry, but the bushes on top of his head felt heavy. He reached up, and he pulled a bunch of pink salmon
berries off of one and ate them. At noon he pulled blue huckleberries off another bush and in the evening, he pulled red huckleberries off the third bush.
He slept on the ladder again. On the third day, he again climbed all day, and got his meals from the bushes in his hair.
Finally, very late in the day, he got to the top of the ladder and stepped off onto the star. He was so tired he fell right to sleep.
A small girl dressed in clean skin clothes with porcupine quill decorations woke him up. "Come with me to my grandmother's," she said. The chief's
son got up and followed her. When he got to the grandmother's house, the grandmother said, "Why have you come here, my grandson?"
"Oh, grandmother," he said respectfully, "I have come to find my best friend. I believe that the moon has taken him away."
"Well," said the grandmother. "The moon lives right next door to me. You can see his house from here. And I know he has taken some young child,
because I have heard him crying. You may be able to get him back, but it will be a hard job. First you must eat, and then I will give you some magic
So she fed him and then she gave him a pine cone, a rosebush, a piece of devil's club and a sharpening stone.
The boy snuck over to the moon's house and climbed up and looked in the smoke hole. His friend was sitting on a shelf near the smoke hole crying. The
chief's son pulled his friend out and put the pine cone in his place. He told the cone to grow and cry. The pine cone grew as large as his friend and
started crying. The two friends started back to the old woman's house. Unfortunately, the pine cone fell off the shelf and the moon saw the boy was
gone and started chasing the two boys. The moon had nearly caught the boys, when the chief's son threw down the rosebush. It grew into a big thicket
of rose bushes and the moon was slowed down trying to get through.
The boys had gotten somewhat ahead when the moon managed to break through the roses.
When the moon got close again, the chief's son threw down the devil's club. It grew into a huge thicket. Devil's club has huge leaves with stickers on
them and big heavy stalks with long, sharp thorns on it. It was much harder for the moon to get through the devil's club that the roses, but he did, and
almost caught up again.
This time, the chief's son threw down the sharpening stone. It grew into a steep, steep mountain with a sharp, sharp point on the top. The moon tried
and tried to get up the mountain, but he just kept rolling back down again, so this time the boys made it safely to the old woman's house. They thanked
her again and again for helping them and then went to climb down the ladder, but it was no longer there. The old woman had gone along with them,
and she said, "All you have to do to get home, is to just think of that place on the hill that you always play. Think of it and nothing else, then go to
So she went back home and they laid down to sleep. They were almost asleep when the chief's son started to think about how nice the old woman had
been to him. Immediately, they found themselves back in the old woman's house. She said, "If you want to go home, you must not think about me.
Think only about where you are going." This time they were able to think only about going home. They went to sleep and when they woke up they
were in their village, on the hill.
They heard a drummer drumming the death dance. The people in the village thought the two friends had died, so they were doing what they do when
somebody dies. They were all in the chief's house. People started coming out pretty soon. They all had their faces painted black and their eyes were red
from sad crying. It was night, so they did not see the two friends. The brother of the chief's son came out. The chief's son called his brother. The little
boy was scared and ran back and told his mother that his brother and his friend were outside. "Are you teasing me?" she said angrily.
"No," he said, "It's really them. I'll prove it." The little boy ran outside and the chief's son gave his little brother his shirt. He took it to his mother. His
mother ran out to see the two boys, yelling for the whole village to come. Everybody started crying again, but now it was happy crying.
|The Woman Who Married A Frog
A Tlingit Legend
There once was a young woman who was very vain. Her father was the village chief and her family was very respected. Many young men wanted to
marry her, but she thought that she was too good for all of them. One day, she and her sister were walking beside the big lake in their village. That lake
had many frogs. Several of them were sitting on a mud bank in the middle of the lake, and she started making fun of them.
"How ugly those frogs are," she said. Then she stooped over and picked up one which was sitting on the shore and looking at her.
"You are so ugly," she told that frog. "Even another frog wouldn't marry you!!" With that, she threw the frog back into the lake.
That very night, when the young woman stepped outside of her lodge to walk, while everyone else was sleeping, she was surprised to see a young man
standing there. His clothing was decorated with beautiful green beads and he was very handsome.
"I have come to marry you," the young man told her. "Come with me to my father's house."
The young woman agreed. She had never seen such a handsome young man and wanted to be his wife.
"We must climb this hill to get to my father's house," the young man said and he pointed to the lake. They started to walk down to the water, but to the
young woman, it felt as though they were climbing a hill. When they got to the water, they didn't stop...they went under.
The next morning, the young woman's family noticed that she was missing. They looked everywhere for her and when they discovered the footprints
leading to the water, they decided that she must have drowned.
They beat the drums and held a death feast. People, in the village, cut their hair and blacked their faces and mourned the loss of the young woman.
One day, however, a man was walking down by the lake. When he looked at the middle, he saw a lot of frogs sitting on the mud bank. And there, in the
middle of all those frogs sat the chief's lost daughter!! He began to wade out towards the frogs, but they leaped into the water, and took the young
woman with them.
The man went very quickly to the chief's home. "I have seen your daughter!" he said. "She has been taken by the frogs. I tried to get to her, but the Frog
People took her with them under the water."
The young woman's mother and father went down to the lake. There, they saw their daughter sitting on the mud bank surrounded by the Frog People.
Just like before, when the chief tried to reach her, the frogs leaped in and carried her under the lake with them.
Then, the chief's other daughter spoke.
"My sister insulted the Frog People," she said. "That is why they have taken her."
The chief knew then what he must do. He made offerings to the Frog People, asking them to forgive his daughter. They placed dishes of food on the
surface of the water. The dishes floated out, to the middle of the lake, and then sank. But, the frogs wouldn't give the young woman up.
Then, the chief placed robes, of fine skins, on the bank. The young woman and the Frog People came to the bank and took the robes. But, when the
chief came close, the Frog People drew her back into the lake.
The Frog People just would not give up. At last, the chief had a plan. He gathered together all of the people in the village.
"We will dig a trench," he said. "We'll drain all of the water out of the lake, and rescue my daughter."
The people dug for a long time and the water began to drain away.
The Frog People tried to fill the trench with mud, but they couldn't stop the water from flowing out of the lake. The Frog People tried to drive the people
away, but the people only picked up the frogs and dropped them back into the water. They were very careful not to hurt any of the frogs, but they didn't
stop digging the trench. The water kept flowing out and the homes of the Frog People were being destroyed.
At last, the chief of the Frog People made a decision. After all, it was his son who married the young woman.
"We aren't strong enough to fight these humans," he said. "We must give my new daughter-in-law back to her people."
So, they brought the young woman to the trench. Her father and mother saw her and pulled her out. She was covered with mud and smelled like a frog!
One frog leaped out of the water after her. It was the frog that had been her husband. But, the people carefully picked him up and put him back into the
The chief took the young woman home. For a long time, she could only speak like a frog does.
"Huh, Huh, Huh!!"
But, finally, she began to speak like a human again.
"The Frog People know our language," she told the people. "We must not talk badly about them."
So from that day on, the people showed great respect to the Frog People. They learned the songs that the woman had brought from the Frog People and
they used the frog as an emblem.
They learned a great lesson. They never forgot what happened to the young woman who was too proud. To this day, when the people of the village
hear the frogs singing, they say that the Frog People are telling their children this story too.