Native American Legends
The Star Shooter
A Tlingit Legend
A long time ago, in a Tlingit village, there lived two boys who
were best friends. One was the chief's son and the other one's father
was also a very important man. The two boys played together all
the time. What they liked to do best was play pretend hunting games.
They both had bows and they knew how to make arrows. One day, instead
of playing hunting, they decided to see how many arrows they could
make in a day. By evening they had made a great big pile of them.
They carried their arrows towards a hill where they often played.
It was a full moon that night, and the chief's son said, "Look
at that full moon. It is so beautiful tonight. You can see the moon's
face so clearly."
"Huh!" said his friend. 'You can see it clearly and it
sure is ugly."
"You shouldn't talk like that," said the chief's son.
"The moon will hear and be upset."
Suddenly, the moon was no longer shining. Even though the stars
were still out, the sky was very, very dark. Then, Whoosh! A rainbow
swirled around the two boys. It was so light, they could hardly
see. Then just as suddenly, the rainbow was gone and the sky was
The chief's son turned to talk to his friend, but his friend was
gone. Maybe he ran up the hill to get away from the light, the chief's
son thought. So he went up the hill. His friend was not there. Just
then, the moon started shining again. Uh-oh, thought the chief's
son. I bet that rainbow was the moon and has taken my friend to
his house. How in the world can I rescue him? If only I could shoot
an arrow that high.
Well, he thought, there's no harm in trying. The chief's son put
an arrow in his bow and shot it straight up into the sky. It didn't
come back down, and he saw a dark spot appear on the star next to
the moon. He had that whole, huge stack of arrows next to him, so
he shot another arrow, and another, and another. None of them came
down, so he kept on shooting. The stack was getting shorter and
shorter. He wasn't sure where his arrows were going, but when he
shot the next arrow, he looked up, and he could see the back of
that arrow. They were all sticking together in a long chain. He
kept shooting until he could reach the bottom arrow.
Now, if I could only climb it, he thought, but my arms are much
too tired to climb to the moon after shooting all those arrows.
So the chief's son laid down and went to sleep.
When he woke up, where that chain of arrows had been there was
a ladder. Now he could climb up to that star next to the moon and
from there he could surely get to the moon. He knew it would be
a long journey. He was afraid if he went home to get some food,
the ladder would be gone, so he pulled up three berry bushes and
stuck them in his hair. Then he started climbing.
He climbed all day, and when, night came, he just slept on the
When he woke up the next morning, he was hungry, but the bushes
on top of his head felt heavy. He reached up, and he pulled a bunch
of pink salmon berries off of one and ate them. At noon he pulled
blue huckleberries off another bush and in the evening, he pulled
red huckleberries off the third bush. He slept on the ladder again.
On the third day, he again climbed all day, and got his meals from
the bushes in his hair.
Finally, very late in the day, he got to the top of the ladder
and stepped off onto the star. He was so tired he fell right to
A small girl dressed in clean skin clothes with porcupine quill
decorations woke him up. "Come with me to my grandmother's,
" she said. The chief' s son got up and followed her. When
he got to the grandmother's house, the grandmother said, "Why
have you come here, my grandson?"
"Oh, grandmother," he said respectfully, "I have
come to find my best friend. I believe that the moon has taken him
'Well," said the grandmother. "The moon lives right next
door to me. You can see his house from here. And I know he has taken
some young child, because I have heard him crying. You may be able
to get him back, but it will be a hard job. First you must eat,
and then I will give you some magic tools."
So she fed him and then she gave him a pine cone, a rosebush, a
piece of devil's club and a sharpening stone.
The boy snuck over to the moon's house and climbed up and looked
in the smoke hole. His friend was sitting on a shelf near the smoke
hole crying. The chief's son pulled his friend out and put the pine
cone in his place. He told the cone to grow and cry. The pine cone
grew as large as his friend and started crying. The two friends
started back to the old woman's house Unfortunately, the pine cone
fell off the shelf and the moon saw the boy was gone and started
chasing the two boys. The moon had nearly caught the boys, when
the chief's son threw down the rosebush. It grew into a big thicket
of rose bushes and the moon was slowed down trying to get through.
The boys had gotten somewhat ahead when the moon managed to break
through the roses.
When the moon got close again, the chief's son threw down the devil's
club. It grew into a huge thicket. Devil's club has huge leaves
with stickers on them and big heavy stalks with long, sharp thorns
on it. It was much harder for the moon to get through the devil's
club than the roses, but he did, and almost caught up again.
This time, the chief's son threw down the sharpening stone. It
grew into a steep, steep mountain with a sharp, sharp point on the
top. The moon tried and tried to get up the mountain, but he just
kept rolling back down again, so this time the boys made it safely
to the old woman's house. They thanked her again and again for helping
them and then went to climb down the ladder, but it was no longer
there. The old woman had gone along with them, and she said, "All
you have to do to get home, is to just think of that place on the
hill that you always play. Think of it and nothing else, then go
So she went back home and they laid dowm to sleep. They were almost
asleep when the chief's son started to think about how nice the
old woman had been to him. Immediately, they found themselves back
in the old woman's house. She said, "If you want to go home,
you must not think about me. Think only about where you are going."
This time they were able to think only about going home. They went
to sleep and when they woke up they were in their village, on the
They heard a drummer drumming the death dance. The people in the
village thought the two friends had died, so they were doing what
they do when somebody dies. They were all in the chief's house.
People started coming out pretty soon. They all had their faces
painted black and their eyes were red from sad crying. It was night,
so they did not see the two friends. The brother of the chief's
son came out. The chief's son called his brother. The little boy
was scared and ran back and told his mother that his brother and
his friend were outside. "Are you teasing me?" she said
"No,". he said, "It's really them. I'll prove it."
The little boy ran outside and the chief's son gave his little brother
his shirt. He took It to his mother. His mother ran out to see the
two boys, yelling for the whole village to come. Everybody started
crying again, but now it was happy crying.
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