When the winter sky turns dark and a gentle snow falls on the back range, hiding in the shadows is the “Guardian Of The Night”. Known though out history as a trickster and the messenger, foretelling good fortune or disaster he forever is watching.
Raven Tales are the traditional people and animals creation stories of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast but are also found among Athabaskan-speaking peoples and others. Raven stories exist in nearly all of the First Nations throughout the region but are most prominent in the tales of the Tlingit and Tahltan people.
Raven and eagle are known by many different names by many different peoples and is an important figure amongst written and verbal stories. His tales are passed down through the generations of story tellers of the people and are of cultural and historical significance. It’s important to note that Native myths such as the Raven Tales, as opposed to tall tales and little stories for children, are not entertainment and are cultural property of the clan or individual that the story originates from. It is customary that others should not tell stories that are owned by another clan, especially if they do not live in the same area.
While each culture’s stories of the Raven are different, there are even those that share the same title; certain attributes of Raven remain the same. The Raven is always a magical creature able to take the form of human, animal, even inanimate objects. He is a keeper of secrets, and a trickster often focused on satisfying his own gluttony for whatever he desires. His stories tell of how worldly things came to be or offer suggestion to children on how to behave. Raven’s creative nature shows itself through circumstance rather than intent, through the desire to satisfy his own needs, rather than any altruistic principles. Raven is both the protagonist among the stories of some groups, and the antagonist of others; he is a hero and an amusement.
Tales that feature the Raven as the hero are specific to areas in the north of the continent such as northern British Columbia and Alaska and their peoples, such as the Tsimshian and the Haida. Similar tales appear in Chukchi cultures in the north-east of Asia and it is probable that they are influenced by Native American stories.
The Haida First Nation credits Raven with finding the first humans hiding in a clam shell; he brought them berries and salmon. The Sioux tell of how a white raven used to warn buffalo of approaching hunters. Eventually an angry shaman caught the bird and threw it into a fire, turning it black.