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 dark again.
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 ladder.
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 sleep.
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 away.
'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 to sleep."
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 hill.
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 angrily.
"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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