Native American Legends
The pole that holds the Sky
An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown
Long ago, there lived a chief named Wakiash, who was sad because
he had never had a totem pole, and without a totem pole he could
not host a dance. He was also ashamed, because chiefs were expected
to hold great dances for the people. One day, Wakiash went up into
the mountains and fasted to seek guidance. After four days, he fell
into a deep sleep. A frog fell on him, and Wakiash awoke. "Come!"
exclaimed the frog. "We will fly around the world on Raven's
Raven carried the chief and the frog all over the land. After four
days, they flew over a house with a fine totem pole; they could
hear the sounds of laughter and singing from within the house. Raven
stopped and set them down outside the door. "Quick," said
the frog, "hide with me, then jump into the house when the
Inside the house were many animals, but they did not begin their
dance because they could feel the presence of intruders. A mouse
was sent outside to see who was there. The little mouse found Wakiash
and the frog, but Wakiash persuaded the mouse not to chase them
away; he gave him a piece of goat's fat as a friendly gesture. The
mouse thanked him and asked, "why did you come here?"
"I want to learn to dance and to have a fine totem pole,"
the chief replied. So the mouse led Wakiash and the frog into the
house, promising to teach the chief what he needed to learn. Wakiash
patiently watched and listened to the teachings of the animals,
and copied their movements as they danced their different steps.
Eventually, the masked animal chief told Wakiash that he was ready
to return home with his new-found knowledge, and that he should
take with him a medicine bundle.
Raven carried Wakiash, the frog and the medicine bundle back to
the mountains. Wakiash awoke from hi deep sleep and took the medicine
bundle back home. The next morning, the medicine bundle was gone,
but in its place was a magnificent totem pole with all the animals
that had been painted on Wakiash's house: the whale, bear, raven,
and smaller animals. To celebrate this joyous happening, Wakiash
held a dance -- the best dance anyone could remember.
The day after the dance, the totem pole disappeared, but Wakiash
now knew what he needed to build a new one. He concentrated on everything
he had learned from the animals in his dream, realizing that the
frog had shown him the importance of honoring the animals that had
protected his own ancestors. Wakiash fashioned a tall new totem
pole that was more majestic even than the last one. He called it
Kulakuyuwish -- the pole that holds up the sky.
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