BNA: Origin of Haida Land

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

Origin of Haida Land

BEFORE the days of the grandfathers there was nothing but water. All was water, except a single reef. Here lived the supernatural beings. They were much crowded. They all lay heaped together.

Then Raven flew all about trying to get a footing, but he could alight nowhere. Then Raven looked at the sky. It was solid. It was very beautiful and Raven was fascinated by it. He said, "I'll go up there," so he ran his beak into the sky and climbed up.

Now in the Sky Land was a large town. The chief lived there and in the chief's house was a baby. When night came, Raven took the baby by the heel and shook all his bones out. Then he crept into the skin and pretended to be the baby. But at night he stole out of the baby's skin and became Raven. He flew into all the houses and made much mischief.

Then at last a woman saw him and told all the people. Then the chief called all the people together and they sang a song for Raven. It was a magic song, and in the midst of it, the one holding Raven let him fall, and he dropped down out of the Sky Country until he fell upon the great waters. Now the cradle drifted about on the water for a long time. Raven cried; then he cried himself to sleep, but as Raven slept, something said, "Your powerful grandfather invites you in."

Raven sat up quickly. He looked toward the sound, but there was nothing there. Soon the voice said the same words. Raven looked through the hole in his marten's-skin blanket. Presently up through the water came a grebe saying, "Your powerful grandfather invites you in."

Then Raven stood up. His cradle was floating against a kelp with two heads. He stepped upon it, and behold! it was really a two-headed house pole made of stone. When Raven climbed down, he found he could breathe as easily as in the air above. Beneath the house pole was a house. Someone said, "Come inside, my son; I hear that you come to borrow something from me."

Raven entered. In the back part of the house sat old Sea-Gull Man. The old man sent him for a box which hung in the corner. There were four others inside of this. Raven pulled them all apart and took out two long pieces of something. One was black and the other was covered with shining points.

Sea-Gull Man took the two pieces and showed them to Raven. He said, "Lay this speckled stone in the water first, and this black one last. Then bite off a piece of each, and spit it out and the pieces will reunite," so he said.

When Raven went out, he put the black piece into the water first. When he had bitten off part of the rock with shining points and laid it in the water, the points rebounded. He had not done as he had been told.

Now he went back to the black one, and bit off part of it, and spit it out again. Then the pieces stuck. These were going to become land. He put this into the water, and it stretched itself out and became the Haida Country. Of the other piece he made the Seaward Country — the mainland.

(600 words)

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