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Title: A Treasury of Eskimo Tales

Author: Clara Kern Bayliss

Illustrator: George L. Carlson

Release date: February 11, 2008 [eBook #24569]
Most recently updated: January 3, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard J. Shiffer and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)





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

illustrated in color by


Copyright, 1922,

Second Printing

Printed in the U. S. A.


[Pg iii]


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,[Pg iv] 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 subjects.

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.

[Pg v]


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
XVIII. Up to the Top of the Sky, and Down to the Bottom of the Sea 69
XIX. Taking Away the Sun 76[Pg vi]
XX. The Dwarf People 82
XXI. What Happened to the Lone Woman 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
XXXI. Even a Grass Plant Can Become Someone if it Tries 127

[Pg vii]


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

[Pg 1]



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 [Pg 2]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.

[Pg 3]



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."

[Pg 4]

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.[Pg 5] 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.

[Pg 6]

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 [Pg 7]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 him.

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.[Pg 8] 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 [Pg 9]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, [Pg 10]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 [Pg 11]them they came to meet him. They had been on a whaling excursion and were towing a large dead whale to their village.

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.

[Pg 12]



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 beach.

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,[Pg 13] "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.

[Pg 14]



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 [Pg 15]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 away!"

At once the door opened and Kalopaling came hobbling in on his clumsy feet, which were made [Pg 16]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 [Pg 17]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 out:

"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 water.

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 water.

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 tribe.

[Pg 18]



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 [Pg 19]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 waiting.

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 land.

But in the house was the girl's little brother who had seen the husband come in; and after [Pg 20]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][Pg 21] 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 sledges.

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.[Pg 22] 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 so.

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?

[Pg 23]



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.

[Pg 24]

"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 [Pg 25]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 her.

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 man.

When Small Salmon saw him approaching he [Pg 26]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 upset."

"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 [Pg 27]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.

[Pg 28]



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.

[Pg 29]

"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 is."

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.

[Pg 30]



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.

[Pg 31]

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 [Pg 32]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.

[Pg 33]



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 [Pg 34]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:

[Pg 35]

"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 heart.

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 [Pg 36]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 Moon.

[Pg 37]



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 [Pg 38]little shriveled bag of bones," and were always imposing upon him on account of his weakness.

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.


[Pg 39]

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."

[Pg 40]

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

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.

[Pg 41]



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,[Pg 42] "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 bowl.

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.

[Pg 43]



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 [Pg 44]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 [Pg 45]him meat, for she loved her brother dearly and used to weep because she knew he was hungry.

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 anything?"

"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."

[Pg 46]

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 [Pg 47]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 line.

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 [Pg 48]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.

[Pg 49]




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 [Pg 50]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.

[Pg 51]

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.

[Pg 52]



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 [Pg 53]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?"

[Pg 54]

"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 [Pg 55]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; [Pg 56]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.

[Pg 57]



"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 [Pg 58]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.[Pg 59] 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 [Pg 60]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 peopled.

[Pg 61]



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.

[Pg 62]

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 [Pg 63]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 [Pg 64]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."

[Pg 65]



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 [Pg 66]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 [Pg 67]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 homeward.

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.[Pg 68] 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 people.

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.

[Pg 69]



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 [Pg 70]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 travels."

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

"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 [Pg 71]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.

[Pg 72]

"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.

[Pg 73]

"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 it?"

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 [Pg 74]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 slept.

"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 [Pg 75]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.

[Pg 76]



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 [Pg 77]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 harmless.

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.

[Pg 78]

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 [Pg 79]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."

[Pg 80]

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 sky-dwarfs.

[Pg 81]

"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.

[Pg 82]



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.

[Pg 83]

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 [Pg 84]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.

[Pg 85]



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 none."

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 [Pg 86]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 away.

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."

[Pg 87]



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 [Pg 88]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 excited.

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 [Pg 89]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.

[Pg 90]



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 [Pg 91]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 kashim.

"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 replied.

"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:[Pg 92] "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 it.

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 [Pg 93]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 [Pg 94]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.

[Pg 95]



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 [Pg 96]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, [Pg 97]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 one."

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 [Pg 98]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.

[Pg 99]



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 [Pg 100]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 [Pg 101]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 mountain.

"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 victims."

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 [Pg 102]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.

[Pg 103]



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 [Pg 104]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 house."

"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 [Pg 105]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!"

[Pg 106]

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 [Pg 107]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."

[Pg 108]



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 north."

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."

[Pg 109]

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 [Pg 110]mountain till they came to an ancient grave, where the tracks ended.

It was the grave of the boy's father.

[Pg 111]



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."

[Pg 112]

"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 [Pg 113]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.

[Pg 114]



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 [Pg 115]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.

[Pg 116]

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."


[Pg 117]

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 others.

He started to go along the sky wall to the north, but the cold became more and more severe [Pg 118]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 [Pg 119]of the Doll who first opened the wind-holes of the sky and regulated all the six winds of earth.

[Pg 120]



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 [Pg 121]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 [Pg 122]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 husband.

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 linger."

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 [Pg 123]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.

[Pg 124]

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 [Pg 125]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 stone."

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 [Pg 126]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 declared.

[Pg 127]



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 [Pg 128]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 that."

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 [Pg 129]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 [Pg 130]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 [Pg 131]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 [Pg 132]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 [Pg 133]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 [Pg 134]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 [Pg 135]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.