How Raven Helped the Ancient People
Long ago, near the beginning of the world, Gray Eagle was the guardian of the sun and moon and stars, of fresh water and of fire. Gray Eagle hated people so much that he kept these things hidden. People lived in darkness, without fire and without fresh water.
Gray Eagle had a beautiful daugher, and Raven fell in love with her. At that time Raven was a handsome young man.(1) He changed himself into a snow-white bird, and as a snow-white bird he pleased Gray Eagle’s daughter. She invited him to her father’s lodge.
When Raven saw the sun and teh moon and the stars and fresh water hanging on the sides of Eagle’s lodge, he knew what he should do. He watched for his chance to seize them when no one was looking. He stole all of them, and a brand of fire also, and flew out of the lodge through a smoke hole.
As soon as Raven got outside, he hung the sun up in the sky. It made so much light that he was able to fly far out to an island in the middle of the ocean. When the sun set, he fastened the moon up in the sky and hung the stars around in different places. By this new light he kept on flying, carrying with him the fresh water and the brand of fire he hadstolen. It fell to the ground and there became the source of all the freshwater streams and lakes in the world.
The Raven flew on, holding the brand of fire in his bill.
The smoke from the fire blew back over his white feathers and made them black.. When his bill began to burn, he had to drop the firebrand. It struck rocks and went into the rocks. That is why, if you strike two stones together, fire will drop out.
Raven’s feathers never became white again after they were blackened by the smoke from the firebrand. That is why Raven is not a black bird. (1) Raven was the benefactor of the mythological people along the shores of Puget Sound and the beaches of the Olypic Peninsula, much as Coyote was of the ancients east of the Cascade Range. Among many other deeds, according to Quillayute mythology, Raven brought the blueback salmon to the rivers along the Washington coast. Having eaten some in the underground home of his father-in-law, Moke, young Raven determined to take a blueback salmon home with him. Pursued, he hid the scales of the fish in his mouth and nostrils. He came up to the south. He threw one scale of the salmon into the Quillayute River, one into the Hoh, and two into the Queets. He washed off all the rest of the scales into the Quinault River. That is why there are a few blueback salmon in the Quillayte and Hoh rivers today, many in the Queets, and very many in the Quinault. “So much for that.”