Raven steals Fire - Silver Framed Reversible Pendant

 

 

Illustration by Animals and Icons.  To see more of their work go to www.animalsandicons.etsy.com

 

As is our tradition, our  leader and mentor, Kicking Bear, opened the evening with this prayer:

 

O Great Spirit

we come as many streams flowing
into one mighty river

we come to hear the stories of the past
that their lessons might help us in the present
and give us a better future.

we ask that you allow Beadlady to speak with
a straight tongue that we might know the truths
she speaks …. open our hearts that we may
take these words into our being and give them life.

may we all walk in balance and harmony
It is all good

 

 

The story is Raven and Crow’s Potlatch as told by Elderbarry of the Skagit tribe

As Told by Beadlady 61 (Deb)

 

Raven used to live high up in the upper Skagit River country. He was very lazy.

 

In the summer when the other animals were busy gathering food for winter, he would be flying

from rock to stump and stump to rock making fun of them.

 

Raven just laughed when Crow(his cousin) urged him to follow squirrels example-but Raven

never prepared for the cold months, when the snow would drift over the ground and cover

all the remaining food. But now Raven was in trouble. Winter had come and the snows were deep.

 

He was hungry-and Raven loved to eat. He had to find someone who would share their food with him.

 

Raven went to see squirrel. Her had a huge supply of pine nuts and seeds and other food hidden all over the place.

Raven poked his head in squirrel’s nest in a old fir tree. Squirrel had lots to eat. Raven politely begged for some food.

 

Squirrel scolded him-that was always Squirrel’s way- “You refused to work and save for winter- and

you poked much fun at me-you deserve to starve!”

 

Raven went looking for Bear. But Bear was sound asleep in his cave and could not be wakened.

Raven looked around for some food, but it was all in Bear’s belly.  Bear had already eaten it all and was sleeping till spring.

WALKING BEAR FETISH With Beaded Gift

Illustration by Spirit Bear.  To see more, go to www.spiritbearcreations.etsy.com

 

Raven was now very hungry. He thought: “Who can give me something to eat? Everyone is either stingy like

Squirrel or sleeping like Bear and Marmot, or they have gone South for winter like the snowbirds.”

Then he thought of Crow- he would be easy to fool!

 

Raven flew to Crow’s nest. “Cousin Crow, we must talk about your coming potlatch!” Crow answered. ”

I have not planned a potlatch” Raven ignored his response. “Crow, everyone is talking about your potlatch-

will you sing at it?” “Sing?”

 

Crow had not known that anybody really cared for his singing voice- thought in those days,

Crow’s song was much more like that of Wood Thrush than it is today.

 

Raven continued to talk of Crow’s potlatch. ” You are very talented and possess a beautiful voice-

everyone will be so disappointed if you don’t sing at your potlatch!”

 

What potlatch?… You really like my singing?”

 

“We love your singing, Crow,”Raven answered. “The Winter’s cold has chilled the forest and

we’re cold and hungry and singing will help us forget our cold feet and empty stomachs.

Now you get started fixing the food- looks like you have plenty here- and I will go invite the

guests to your potlatch. You can practice your songs as you cook!”

 

Crow’s hesitation now overcome, he began to prepare all the food he had collected for winter, and as

he prepared it, he practiced his songs. The more he thought the feast and how everyone wanted to hear

him sing, the more excited he got about it.

 

Meanwhile Raven was offering invitations to all the animals of the forest.

Of course Marmot and Beaver were sleeping like Bear, and Robin and Goose were gone South.

To each he said the same thing: “Come to MY potlatch! I have worked hard to prepare it.

There will be much food at Raven’s potlatch and Crow is helping and will sing for us.

 

There will be fern roots and wild potatoes, dried berries, fish and meat. Come to MY potlatch!

It will be a great occasion.” Raven did not invite Squirrel however since he had refused to share his

food with Raven. But all the rest of the animals were invited to Raven’s Potlatch.

 

When he returned to Crow- he was busy singing and cooking. Raven told him-

“Everyone is coming- be sure and fix all your food-they will be hungry after their journey.

and your songs are sounding so good! Crow’s potlatch will be a great feast!”

 

As the guest arrived, Raven welcomed each one to his potlatch. There was deer and mountain goat and

mouse, rabbit, partridge and jay. The guests were seated and the food was brought out. Crow started to sit

and eat- but Raven asked him for a song first. “It’s not good to sing on a full stomach, Crow”.

So crow began to sing. Every time he would stop to eat- Raven would insist he sing another song.

 

“You can’t sing with your mouth full, Crow!” Encouraged again and again by the guests- who were busy stuffing

themselves with Crow’s food- Crow sang song after song after song- all day until night- and Crow’s voice

became hoarser and hoarser until all he could do was “Caw- caw”.

 

As was the custom- the left over food was collected by the guests and taken by them for their homeward journey.

 

Even Raven had taken his share and left as Crow was cleaning up. Crow had nothing left to eat.

“At least, ” Crow thought, ” I won’t go hungry- I will be invited to their feasts. ” For it was the custom

that having been entertained, each guest was now obliged to return the favor and invite the host for a return potlatch

 

But Crow, who had been fooled, had been reduced to starving, and never regained his singing voice either.

He was destined to spend his winters begging in the camps of men for scraps of food. And that’s where we find him today-

squabbling over scraps in grocery store parking lots- Caw! Caw! Caw!

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