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Raven in Creation

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The Raven in Creation is the trickster and creator in the traditional creation stories of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

One version of the Raven creation story begins when Raven was taught by his father, Kit-ka'ositiyi-qa to be a creator, but Raven was unsatisfied with the product. Raven created the world but was unable to give it light or water. On hearing that light could be found hidden in a far off land, Raven decided he would travel there and steal it. When he discovered that dwelling in the house of light was a young woman who lived there with her father, he played the first of many tricks. He turned himself into a small speck of dirt and slipped into her drinking water and was swallowed. This made the daughter pregnant, and she gave birth to an unusual and fussy child who cried demanding to touch one of the bundles which had been stored hanging from the walls. The child was given one of the bags to quiet him, but when tired of playing with it he let it go, and it floated away from him and disappeared through the smoke hole. Once it reached the sky the bundle came undone and scattered stars across the sky. When the child cried to have it back again he was given the second bundle to play with, and he let it too float away through the hole in the ceiling, and it released the moon. This would happen again with the third and last bundle, which flew away and became sunlight. After Raven's tricks succeeded in bringing all the light to the world, he flew away through the smoke hole.

Raven continued using such trickery to bring water and stamp people, animals and other features in the world with certain characteristics.[1] Many versions of Raven's theft of water are told but all center on Raven's trickery against the owner of water. In one version Raven leads its owner to believe he has soiled his bed in his sleep and threatens to shame him unless he shares his water with Raven. In another version Raven puts ash on his tongue to fool the owner to believe his extreme thirst is unquenched. Instead of drinking the water Raven collects it in a seal's bladder hidden under his clothes and flees with all of it.[2]

Various myths are told of how people were created and Raven is often thought more as their reconstructor than a creator. In one myth Raven mated with a sea shell and nine months later heard voices coming from it. When he opened the shell to investigate he discovered he had fathered tiny human beings living inside. A variant account describes Raven as a passerby who freed the scared and timid beings inside the shell who were first men of the world.[3] When he bored of them, he considered returning them to their shell, but opted instead to find female counterparts of these male beings. The raven found some female humans trapped in a chiton, freed them, and was entertained as the two sexes met and began to interact. The raven felt responsible and very protective of them, thus many Haida myths and legends often suggest the raven as a provider to mankind.

In another recorded version of Raven creation, when an earlier people were all killed by a flood he created new ones from leaves.[4]

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References

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Raven in Creation. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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