Native American Legends
Crow brings daylight
An Eskimo Legend
A long time ago when the world was first born, it was always dark
in the north where the Inuit people lived. They thought it was dark
all over the world until an old crow told the them about daylight
and how he had seen it on his long journeys. The more they heard
about daylight, the more the people wanted it.
"We could hunt further and for longer," they said. "We
could see the polar bears coming and run before they attack us."
The people begged the crow to go and bring them daylight, but he
didn't want to. "It's a long way and I'm too old to fly that
far," he said. But the people begged until he finally agreed
He flapped his wings and launched into the dark sky, towards the
east. He flew for a long time until his wings were tired. He was
about to turn back when he saw the dim glow of daylight in the distance.
"At last, there is daylight," said the tired crow. As
he flew towards the dim light it became brighter and brighter until
the whole sky was bright and he could see for miles. The exhausted
bird landed in a tree near a village, wanting to rest. It was very
A daughter of the chief came to the nearby river. As she dipped
her bucket in the icy water, Crow turned himself into a speck of
dust and drifted down onto her fur cloak. When she walked back to
her father's snow lodge, she carried him with her. Inside the snow
lodge it was warm and bright. The girl took off her cloak and the
speck of dust drifted towards the chief's grandson, who was playing
on the lodge floor. It floated into the child's ear and he started
"What's wrong? Why are you crying?" asked the chief,
who was sitting at the fire. "Tell him you want to play with
a ball of daylight," whispered the dust. The chief wanted his
favorite grandson to be happy, and told his daughter to fetch the
box of daylight balls. When she opened it for him, he took out a
small ball wrapped a string around it and gave it to his grandson.
The speck of dust scratched the child's ear again, making him cry.
"What's wrong, child?" asked the chief. "Tell him
you want to play outside" whispered Crow. The child did so,
and the chief and his daughter took him out into the snow. As soon
as they left the snow lodge, the speck of dust turned back into
Crow again. He put out his claws, grasped the string on the ball
of daylight and flew into the sky, heading west. Finally he reached
the land of the Inuit again and when he let go of the string, the
ball dropped to the ground and shattered into tiny pieces. Light
went into every home and the darkness left the sky.
All the people came from their houses. "We can see for miles!
Look how blue the sky is, and the mountains in the distance! We
couldn't see them before." They thanked Crow for bringing daylight
to their land. He shook his beak. "I could only carry one small
ball of daylight, and it'll need to gain its strength from time
to time. So you'll only have daylight for half the year." The
people said "But we're happy to have daylight for half the
year! Before you brought the ball to us it was dark all the time!"
And so that is why, in the land of the Inuit in the far north,
it is dark for one half of the year and light the other. The people
never forgot it was Crow who brought them the gift of daylight and
they take care never to hurt him - in case he decides to take it
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