Native American Legends
The man who acted as the Sun
A Bella Coola Legend
Once upon a time there lived a woman some distance up Bella Coola
River. She refused the offer of marriage from the young men of the
tribe, because she desired to marry the Sun. She left her village
and went to seek the Sun.
Finally she reached his house, and married the Sun. After she had
been there one day, she had a child. He grew very quickly, and on
the second day of his life he was able to walk and to talk. After
a short time he said to his mother, "I should like to see your
mother and your father"; and he began to cry, making his mother
When the Sun saw that his wife felt downcast, and that his son
was longing to see his grandparents, he said, "You may return
to the Earth to see your parents. Descend along my eyelashes."
His eyelashes were the rays of the Sun, which he extended down to
his wife's home, where they lived with the woman's parents.
The boy was playing with the children of the village, who were
teasing him, saying that he had no father. He began to cry, and
went to his mother, whom he asked for bow and arrows. His mother
gave him what he requested. He went outside and began to shoot his
arrows towards the sky. The first arrow struck the sky and stuck
in it; the second arrow hit the notch of the first one; and thus
he continued until a chain was formed, extending from the sky down
to the place where he was standing. Then he ascended the chain.
He found the house of the sun, which he entered. He told his father
that the boys had been teasing him, and he asked him to let him
carry the sun. But his father said, "You cannot do it. I carry
many torches. Early in the morning and late in the evening I burn
small torches, but at noon I burn the large ones." The boy
insisted on his request. Then his father gave him the torches, warning
him at the same time to observe carefully the instructions that
he was giving him in regard to their use.
Early the next morning, the young man started on the course of
the sun, carrying the torches. Soon he grew impatient, and lighted
all the torches at once. Then it grew very hot. The trees began
to burn, and many animals jumped into the water to save themselves,
but the water began to boil. Then his mother covered the people
with her blanket, and thus saved them. The animals hid under stones.
The ermine crept into a hole, which, however, was not quite large
enough, so that the tip of its tail protruded from the entrance.
It was scorched, and since that time the tip of the ermine's tail
has been black. The mountain-goat hid in a cave, hence its skin
is perfectly white. All the animals that did not hide were scorched,
and therefore have black skins, but the skin on their lower side
When the Sun saw what was happening, he said to his son, "Why
do you do so? Do you think it is good that there are no people on
The Sun took him and cast him down from the heavens, saying, "You
shall be the mink, and future generations of man shall hunt you."
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