Native American Legends
How Fox saved the People
An Eskimo Legend
Once upon a time, in a camp near Great Slave Lake, there were no
caribou to kill. For days and days the families went without food.
Everyone was very hungry and weak.
Each day a raven landed in the camp. He would wander from tent
to tent looking at the hungry people.
Whenever he came to the camp, he appeared cheerful. The people
were puzzled why the raven looked so happy.
"Raven, do you have lots of food?", the people asked.
"We cannot help noticing your happy face." The raven replied,
"I'm having the same problem as you". All this time the
raven was thinking about what a good meal he'd have when some of
the people died.
The people still wanted to know why the raven always looked so
happy. They decided to follow him to see where he went. His footprints
led them into the forest. They followed the tracks until suddenly
they came to an end. The men looked everywhere for more signs of
the raven. Suddenly they noticed a quiver hanging on a branch of
a tree. On the quiver were pieces of frozen fat.
"No wonder the raven is so cheerful, he has lots of food.
He lied to us. There's probably more food near-by," the people
said. They decided there must be a herd of caribou a short distance
While the people were talking, a man named Make-Bone said he would
follow the raven the next time he left their camp. So everyone returned
home, to wait for the raven to appear. The raven visited the camp
again the next day, not knowing about the plan the people had decided
upon. As usual, he entered each tent looking for a possible meal.
Finally he decided to leave. Already Make-Bone had climbed an old
spruce tree to watch the raven. When the raven flew away, Make-Bone
tried to follow him with his eyes. However, he was flying out of
sight. Since Make-Bone was worried he might lose the raven, he wiped
his forehead with ashes. This helped him to see better.
"I can see him now," cried Make-Bone. "He's landing
near a hill. Let's follow him there!" Everyone started walking
through the forest to find the raven. It was a long walk and everyone
became very tired. Finally they arrived at the hill where Make-Bone
had last seen the raven.. At first they didn't see any sign of the
bird. Then suddenly they noticed a big spruce hut nearby. Quickly
the people surrounded the lodging. A wolf, who happened to appear
then, offered to enter the hut to see what was inside.
In there he noticed a bundle of food on a pole rack, which was
over a fire. The wolf grasped the heavy bundle and took it to the
people. Everyone was happy to have food to eat. However, they decided
to find the raven, so that they would have food for the next meal
"Who will enter the hut to spy on the raven?" the crowd
asked. This time a fox offered to help. Before he went in, he told
the people to put all the children on a pole rack, where they would
be safe. Then the fox told everyone to stand nearby. "Be ready
to start spearing," he said. When the people were ready, the
fox entered the hut.
Once inside, he brushed the fire with his bushy tail. This made
large clouds of smoke. Quickly he trotted outside with a trail of
smoke following him. Everyone waited patiently.
Soon there was a loud noise which sounded like thunder. Suddenly
a large herd of caribou stampeded from the spruce hut. The hunters
began spearing the caribou as they ran past. When most of the caribou
had been killed, the people noticed a pair of crumbled wings and
bits of feather on the ground. An old women started to sob when
she saw this.
"Where is the raven? We need the wise raven!" she cried.
Then she picked up the pieces of bone and feather and put them beside
her when she went to sleep that night. The next morning she found
that the raven was not dead.
The raven felt sorry that he had saved the caribou. He knew that
the fox had outwitted him, and had saved the people from starving.
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