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Raven: The Brave Warrior

A Squamish Legend as told by Louis Miranda

What I will be relating here is something that was often told to me by my late mother and many of my older relatives. I also heard it told to a group by the storyteller and this is how they would start: This was something that was suppose to happen in the long ago when all birds and animals were human beings.

It was said that this must have been summertime and Raven was at home with his parents and friends. There came a day when a lot of women got together and said, "If we only had a man to steer and paddle the canoe for us, we would go picking blackberries." To get to where the blackberries were, was some distance.

The Raven must have overheard the remark and immediately he said, "Why worry, I am here. I will go and paddle the canoe for you all of you, wherever you want to go. I want all of you, my younger sister's, to know that as long as I am here with all of you, and if you want anything done, do not hesitate to ask me. I would be glad to go and paddle the canoe for all of you, if you want to go and look for blackberries. I would also like to tell you all, with me you have no fear of anything or anyone. I would be there to protect you and see that you all would arrive safely home with all your berries."

So, the women got aboard their canoe with the great man who is going to paddle their canoe for them to their destination. The great paddle and protector sat in the stern of the canoe and all he done was steer the canoe, not once did he take a paddle stroke.

One of his sisters said to him, " Why is it that you just sit there? Why do you not help us by doing some paddling?" Their brave and willing helper said it's a very hard job to keep the canoe going straight and avoid bumping any driftwood. I am also keeping a close look-out along the shore and the bushes in case of lurking enemies who would be spying on us. So, why are you talking ? You all are having it to easy. All you are doing is paddling, talking and laughing. And here, I have the hardest work to do, keep the canoe straight and also protecting you all from the enemy," So, the women said no more and continued their paddling while their brave protector and willing helper sat in the stern of the canoe, half asleep.

Finally, they arrived at the place where the blackberries were. They beached their canoe, picked up their baskets and struck off. But, before they left, their bother said, "Do not fear, I will stay here and protect the canoe. Whenever you get your baskets full you can bring it down and I will see that no harm will happen to your berries."

When the women took off, their brave brother and protector made himself comfortable and in a good position to protect his sisters and he went sleep. Whenever one of the sisters got a basket full of berries and brought it down to the canoe so that it would be protected, they would see that their great protector would be sound asleep. They would strike the side of the canoe to wake up their protector.

When he awoke, he would say, " I must have been concentrating so hard on the enemy that I was not aware of you when you were coming down." So again, he said, "You all have nothing to fear. Put your berries in the canoe and no harm shall happen to them. For, I will be here and should the enemy arrive I will protect your berries with my life.

The women would put the berries in the canoe and take off again, and as soon as the berry pickers would disappear, the brave warrior would go back to sleep. So, this time, he did not sleep too long. He woke up and he felt hungry, really hungry, but he had no lunch with him and there was nothing for him to eat.

Then, he seen the berries and he thought , "Why not, I got real tired paddling, steering and also protecting them from the enemy, and all they did was talk and laugh. Here I am again, driving the enemy. Ready to give up my life to protect them and their berries and as a reward for my strenuous labor, I see no harm in taking a few berries."

So he began, he took one, sat there and another one. He took two and again he took three berries, finally, he was taking them by the handful and he kept on until the berries were about all gone. he left a few in the basket and these he crushed. Then, he took the basket and the crushed berries and emptied it on his head, face and his entire body.

This done, he sat there feeling a little sick but he didn't dare go to sleep, and not long after that battle he heard his sisters coming down towards their canoe. He laid down in the bottom of the canoe and started to groan when the women arrived. They seen their dear brother layer in the bottom of the canoe and seen that all of their berries were gone.

They approached their great warrior brother and he replied, "You all are standing there asking what happened and here I am, dying. I know I am going to die, but I will be satisfied to know that I am dying for a good cause, trying to protect your berries from the enemy. Since, I fought so hard but I lost, I am asking a favor from you all. I want you to take, this, your brave warrior brother who gave up his life to protect your berries, take me lay there until I die. I do not want anyone to be near me when I am dying."

So, the sisters waited for their oldest sister, who was very feeble and therefor very slow in anything that she was doing. She finally arrived, so they got aboard the canoe and paddled their brave dying warrior of a brother to the little island. He pointed out and complying to his dying request, they paddled and when they arrived at the island, They put ashore their brave warrior dying brother.

They started to wept over the one who gave up his life trying to protects their berries, so their brave dying brother said , "I am satisfied that I am dying, knowing that you are all showing your respect by weeping over me. "he done it, he done it our brave warrior brother, he done it,he done it, our brave warrior brother." I want you all to say that when you cry and mourn over me."

The sisters said the word the words that he told them to say. The dying warrior said, "Good! My younger sisters, good. I want you all to say that." The oldest sister (the snail), who was very slow and unable to go far from the beach seen all what their brother was doing. She started to weep and this is what she said, "He done it, he done it, in his sly minky ways, he done it, he done it, in his sly minky ways."

The dying warrior said, "No younger sister, don't say that, don't say that . Say this, say this: He done it, he done it, our brave warrior brother, he done it, he done it, our brave warrior brother, you say that." Again the snail started to weep and again she said, "He done it, in his sly minky ways, my brother." When she stopped weeping her sister got mad at her.

They said to her, "Why do you say that, yet, you can see that our brave warrior brother is dying from trying to protect us and our berries." The snail sister said, "you all know that I am very slow when I am walking so I just along the beach. I could see all that was happening at the canoe. Yes, he did have a big battle, this brave warrior brother of ours. His great enemy name is Raven. That is the enemy our dying warrior was battling, it was himself that ate all our berries, then he spilt the juice from the berries all aver his head, his face and his entire body. Then he sat there and waited. When he heard you all coming down to the canoe, he laid down and started to groan, so there lays the enemy."

She started to beat the great warrior and when he went to stand up to get away, all of the other sisters started to beat him up. When he passed out they took him and threw him into the beach and they left him there. But, Raven knew that there were a lot of sea eggs, clams, and also a lot of berries on that island. This was his reason for asking to be put ashore there, so he could die in peace. So ends the story of the brave warrior as the story was told to them, then told to us.

The legend of Raven and the Blackberries is as told by the late much loved Elder, Chief, Uncle Louis Miranda after the traditional storytelling of our People, the Skwxw˙7mesh ┌xwumixw ~ the Squamish Nation. Located in modern times as SW British Columbia, Canada.

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