Long ago, the land was cold and dark, and ice covered the earth.
The Raven had no warm place to land and play, so he asked the
Sun to warm it up.
Sun then rose upon the Land, and it warmed up, and the ice started
Upon this land a great River formed, which thousands of years later
would be known as the Yu-Kon. And on this River was the village
in which people lived, and it was called Eee-man-ghuk.
people were happy, and the River provided abundantly. But there
was one taboo: that they could not go downriver. They could hunt,
fish and play upriver, but downriver belonged to the Raven and
no one could go there.
things happen, there was a disagreement between two people, and
the disagreement got worse, and the village divided. Those that
were with one group lived on the Sunrise side, and those that
agreed with the others lived on the Sunset side. And much hatred
and enmity ensued between the two sides. Only the Shaman could
speak to those on either side.
of the children, a boy named Pee-tuk, and a girl named Ma-tiq
had been friends since childhood. They always played together,
and were together all day. But when the families of the village
split, they ended up on opposite sides. Still, their friendship
persevered, and when Womanhood came to the girl and Manhood came
to the boy, they were still friends and wanted to be together,
but the village would not approve because they were from opposite
and Pee-tuk went to see the Shaman, and they told him they would
like to leave the village and go some other place where they could
be on their own. But the Shaman was a wise man and told them:
“If you go upriver, they will follow you and slay you. There
is no place upriver because before you get too far you get to
the Land of Forever Ice. And you must not go downriver.”�
is downriver?”�, asked Ma-tiq.
the Shaman explained, “is the land of the Raven. The Raven
protects that land and does not allow anyone to go there, for
he is jealous of it. When someone dies, we put the body on a raft
made of logs and willows and send it downriver. The River takes
it to the Big Water, and the body sinks, and is safe from the
Raven and the animals. Once on the bottom, the spirit and body
separate, and the spirit hides from the moon lest it be taken
to live in the cold, silver moon.”�
the Shaman continued, “At the time of a new moon, when the
moon is dark and not powerful, the spirit of the dead person will
enter a salmon, and the salmon will swim up the River to eventually
be eaten by a woman. The spirit will enter her body, and allow
her to have a baby with its spirit. You must not go downriver.”�
the lovers were very sad, and they tried to meet in secret now
and then, but their hearts ached for each other, and one day their
resolve steeled and they decided to take a boat and risk going
downriver. One night, when the moon was setting, and the owls
were singing, Ma-tiq and Pee-tuk met on the riverbank and took
a small boat and paddled downriver.
the Raven saw them, because the Eye of the Raven sees all. And
the Raven was angry and jealous, and planned his revenge.
and Pee-tuk paddled downstream, and the River got wider and bigger,
water started to taste bitter, and they came upon the Big Water
that the Shaman had spoken about. After they entered the Big Water,
the Raven flapped his wings and a strong gale blew, and the boat
was taken away from shore. The waves were big, and the little
boat was so small. Ma-tiq and Pee-tuq were very afraid and they
feared for their lives. Meantime, the Raven squawked overhead,
in glee and joy.
the Sun took pity on the lovers. He shone stronger and stronger
for them, and the waves did calm down, and the wind died out.
After many days adrift on the boat, the sea
was calm, the Raven could not be seen, and the boat drifted. Ma-tiq
and Pee-tuq were very hungry and thirsty, for the little they
had packed had run out. They could not paddle, for they could
not see land, and did not know where to go.
one day, as they weakened, a land did appear, and they paddled
towards it. And in time came to a shore of beautiful birds, furry
animals, fruit trees of every kind, and clear, crystal streams
of pure water. The Sun shone on them and blessed them with many
when Pee-tuk and Ma-tiq got old, and their children, grandchildren
and great grandchildren gathered around them, the lovers would
tell them that they came from the First People, and that they
were from the village of Eee-man-ghuk, that the Sun blesses all
and that the Raven now must eat what people throw away.
Copyright © 2009, Ramon Gandia