BNA: Creation of Light

The Dakelh people, also called Carrier, live in British Columbia. The name "Dakelh" means "people who go around by boat." You can read more about the Dakelh people at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the British North America unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of British North America by Katharine Berry Judson (1917).

Creation of Light

IN THE days of the animal people, there was darkness everywhere except in the tepee of an old chief. He owned all the light, fire, and water; therefore men were very miserable and sighed always. Men pleaded with the old chief for light, but he would give them none. Therefore they tried to get it by craft.

Now all the animals put on their masks and their dancing aprons and went to the old chief's lodge for a dance. He did not invite them. They went. They were going to get light by craft.

Now each one sang his own song. Fox kept singing, "Khain, khain, khain" because he thought in that way he would gain light. Therefore the animals call him Khain, which means, "He cries for daylight."

Now the old chief steadily refused to give them light. Yet the animal people were each singing his own song, and each singing, "Light, light, light, light." Thus they sang. And they sang so loudly and so steadily that light began to steal up into the sky, like a faint dawn.

The old chief saw it. At once he shouted, "Let there not be! Let there not be!" Had he said "light" as the last word, light would have come. But at once the light disappeared below the edge of the sky.

Now young Fox kept on conjuring and crying, "Khain, khain, khain, khain!" and the animals kept on dancing and singing for light, because they wanted to tire the old chief. And again light began to steal into the sky.

Then the old chief saw it, and he became much excited. The noise confused him and he shouted, "Let there be — light!" And immediately the light came up into the sky. Ever since then men have had light. But the old chief did not mean to say that.

(300 words)

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