Monday, January 19, 2009
Tlingit Creation stories
I love creation stories. There's something so poetic and magical about them. I have books of these types of stories from different countries and I love the similarities and differences between them. My favourites? Tlingit creation stories. I don't know much about my own personal heritage apart from what I've read in books, but it's a part of who I am. (for new readers, I am half Tlingit. My mother is 100% Tlingit and was born and raised in Southeast Alaska) Here are a few creation stories that I have known since childhood:
Raven Creates Fish.
One day, Raven called the salmon together to choose their rivers. King Salmon said, 'I will travel up the long, large rivers to the clear waters, where I will spawn.' Dog Salmon was next. 'I, too, want the larger rivers.' he said, 'but if they are filled, I will use the smaller streams.' Next came Coho. 'I prefer the short, fast, clear waters for my spawning,' was his request. Sockeye was quick to step up and said 'I claim the lakes.' At the end was poor little Humpback. He looked up and softly said, 'I'll take whatever is left.' And so it is that even today, each type of salmon can be found in the streams they picked. But you will notice that there are more Humpback salmon than all the others.
How Raven Made People
One day, Raven felt lonely, so he decided to make people. He strutted along the beach looking for a way to make humans. He saw some stones. He piled them up and said, 'Now, become human and walk.' The stones started to tremble but they quickly tumbled to the ground. 'Well, that didn't work,' he said to himself. Then he found some interesting looking sticks and tied them together with grass. Again, he said, 'Become human and walk!' With only a few clumsy steps they came apart and fell down. Finally, he noticed the beech grass ('chook') blowing in the wind. It almost looked alive. He grabbed a handful, tied some across to make the arms and legs and shouted 'Walk!' Suddenly it came alive and began to move. Sure enough, that was the first person in the world.
I love the idea of fish being rewarded for being humble and the idea that humans originated from the image of beach grass blowing in the wind. What do you think?
Want more? here are other Tlingit Creation Stories