Alaska: How Raven Stole the Lake

This story is part of the Alaskan Legends unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of Alaska, edited by Katharine Berry Judson (1911).

How Raven Stole the Lake
Haida (Queen Charlotte Islands)


AFTER Raven had made the crows black because they had eaten his salmon — crows had always been white before that, they say — he met some people with feathers on their heads and gambling-stick bags on their backs. They said, "What is the matter?"

Raven said, "Oh, my father and mother are dead." Then they started home with him. These were the Beavers, they say. They were going out to gamble, but turned back on account of him.

The next morning they put their gambling-stick bags upon their backs and started off again. Raven flew around behind a screen. Lo, a lake lay there! In a creek flowing from it was a fish trap. The fish trap was so full of salmon it looked as if someone were shaking it. There were plenty of salmon in it and in the lake were very small canoes passing each other.

Raven pulled out the fish trap, folded it together, and laid it down at the edge of the lake. Then he rolled it up with the lake and house, put them under his arm, and pulled himself up into a tree that stood close by. They were not heavy for his arm. He had rolled the lake up just as though it were a blanket.

Raven sat in the tree half-way up. After a while someone came. His house and the lake were not there. After he had looked about him for some time, he looked up. Lo, there sat Raven with their property! Then the Beavers went quickly to that tree. They began cutting it with their teeth.

When it began to fall, Raven went to another one. When that began to fall, he went to another. After the Beavers had cut down many trees in this way, they gave it up. They then travelled about for a long time, they say. After a long time, they found a lake and settled down on it.

Then after Raven had travelled around for a while with the lake, he came to a large open place. He unrolled the lake there. There it lay. He did not let the fish trap or the house go. He kept them to teach the Seaward (mainland) people and the Shoreward (Queen Charlotte Islands) people, they say.

(400 words)

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