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Native American Legends

The Raven and the Fish Melt

An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown

Once, in the long ago, Raven lived in a village all by himself, so he claimed it as his own. Nearby his dwelling there was a stream and in this stream, Raven had built a fish trap (ch'iyak). So one day, Raven went down to look at his trap and to his joy, he seen a lovely big salmon in the trap. He caught the salmon, took it up to his house and cut it open, then, he seen that it contained two milts, or soft roe (tl'ekw'ay).

He was so pleased that he danced in joy and cried out, "kax kax" they shall be my wives. He hangs the Milts on the crossbeam of his house, but cooks and eats the rest of the salmon, leaving only the tail-end of it. After eating so much, he becomes drowsy, so he throws himself down by the fireside with his back towards it and goes to sleep. In his sleep, the Milts come down from the crossbeam where they were hanging, and are transformed into two lovely young women and their skin was very white.

As they get down, they see the condition Raven was in, so they laughed and made fun of his scorched back and his feet which were cracking from the heat of the fire. They presently looked around in search of something to eat, but they found nothing but the few remains of the raven's meal, that was the salmon's tail. This they quickly got rid of and during all this time the Raven was sound asleep.

So one of the young woman said, "I wish I could find Raven's (skewk') comb, as I would like to comb my hair," the other had the same wish. They both looked around, in search of Raven's comb. Finally, they find a little basket containing what they were searching for, as well as skewk's other belongings, such as needles, paint and other things. This they take. They comb their hair and paint their faces, laughing all the time at the Raven, who is snoring heavily. Then, one of them said, "What is the good of a husband with cracked feet and back? Let us go away and leave him." The other agrees, so they start off, carrying Raven's little basket and all it's contents with them.

The day is very hot. They walk along the beach at the waters edge, towards a point that was in the distance. As they proceed, they shake out some of the paint which the basket contained and which is very fine. It scattered all about the beach. Since that time, that beach always shimmers in the sunlight. Raven finally wakes up, the first thing he does was to look up and see if the Milts were still there.

He sees that they are gone. He then, looks for the salmon tail that he had left from his meal and that was also missing. Then, he searches for his little plaint basket, but it was also missing. He spoke to himself saying, "The Milts must have taken them. I will go out and see if they are outside." So he leaves the house and goes down to the waters edge and looks up and down the beach.

He sees the two young women just about reaching the point, in the distance. "oh," he said," they are leaving me. I must go after them and bring them back." He start off to overtake the fugitives and bring them back. But since, the fire had burnt and cracked his feet so badly, he finds that he cannot walk very fast. He is forced to stop frequently to bathe his feet in the water. And in a short time the young women disappeared around the point and he realizes that he has lost them." I am unable to overtake," he said, "as my feet are too sore." And so he limps back to his dwelling again, crying and groaning as he goes along.

In the meantime, when the young women had rounded the point, they hear an odd noise. The sound resembled the sounds which a Fort Douglas woman is said to make with her lips when she tries to amuse her child or keep it from crying. They look around, but at first they were unable to see anyone. Soon, however, they discover two older who are trying to stop a baby, who's in their care, from crying. The mother is away in the woods picking berries. Then, one the young women said to the older women, who are both blind," It seems that you are unable to pacify the baby." Here, give it to me." The old women gave up the child thinking that the baby's mother had returned from her berry picking. The young women carry off the child.

Some little time after this, the real mother returns and demands her baby from the older women. And since, she could see no sign of her baby, she cries out what have you done with my baby?" One of the older women replies, "Why, we just gave it to you, not so long ago." This statement makes the baby's mother real angry. Then she picks up a big stick and beats on the old women, crying out someone has stolen my baby.

As she strikes them one of the pair of the old women is transformed into a sand crane (sliim) and flies away making a sound similar to its name. The other old woman is transformed into a skull (skawku). This the angry mother took and threw into the woods, saying as she does so, "You can stay here." The mother searched all around for some trace of her child.

She walks all night and early next morning , she comes upon the girls tracks. Finally, she finds the dead body of her child on the ground. But, the two milt women who had taken the child, had entirely disappeared. So ends the story of the Raven and the fish Milt.

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