Distant Time Stories As Told By My Grandfather–Raven Lost His Eyes

raven_carries_his_eyes

Raven Lost His Eyes

Here is a story of Raven and what he did. Raven sat on the edge of a bank. He looked up and down the river but he did not see anyone. His eyes were getting tired so he took his eyes out and put them up on the bank. “I will sleep. If someone comes, you tell me,” he said and hung up his eyes on a tree.

Raven went back inside and went to bed. It was not long after he went to bed that his eyes, which he left on the bank started to tell him that someone was coming.

His eyes kept saying someone was coming, so he got up and went out. He put his eyes back on himself and looked up the river. He saw a tree root drifting down and he told his eyes, “You did not see very good. It was only a drifting log. There is no one on the river. That was what he said, and he hung his eyes on the tree again and went back inside.

He went back to bed, and after a long time later, his eyes started to tell him again that someone was coming down the river. This time he thought to himself, “It’s lying to me again.”

The eyes said that someone was coming closer. After a while, his eyes did not saying anything any more. Raven was blind so he felt his way back out. He felt for his eyes where he thought he left them hanging. He kept searching for his eyes. He really lost the place and he felt the ground and found a deep trail. Up there a little ways, there was a ridge coming down from a mountain. He knew of this place where there was no trees. He thought, “Maybe if I put a berry in my eye, I will see again.” So he started for that place. He had a hard time. He even crawled. When he got there, he found a blueberry which he put in place of his eyes. When he put the berries in, he could not see with them. They were too dark. He knew there was another ridge coming down from the mountains and a trail going across there so he crawled across there.

He found something like cranberries and tried those for his eyes. But when he put them in, everything looked red to him. They did not fit either. They kept falling out because they were too small. He did not know what to do, so he kept climbing and found another berry, it was the Canadian Jay’s eyes. He could see with this berry, but his eyes were red. He looked like a man but a person from some other place.

He came back down to his house, and he thought to himself, “Maybe I should paddle up river to see where they put my eyes.” He had a canoe and he started up river. He was paddling when he heard up there among the big trees what sounded like a lot of people laughing. He wanted to find out what all the noise was about.

He stopped on the bank and pulled his canoe up, and started to walk back there into the woods. but when he walked back there, it was a portage, and there was nobody there. The noise was still heard in the woods, however. When he went down to the river, he found a house. Before he came to the house, he put a bunch of spruce boughs in a pile. He spread them out, and then he defecated on it. When he did that, it became clothes. He put these fancy clothes on. The mukluks were the prettiest. Then he put on another pile of spruce boughs and defecated again. Again there were clothes there. These he put in a bag. He carried them along as he walked.

He came down to a house by the river. There was a young girl there who did not go with the others. She was a single girl waiting for the right man to come along.

She told him she was asked a lot of times by men to marry her but she did not. When Raven showed her the clothes that he had in the bag, she decided to marry him. The girl told him, “I will marry you.”

By this time, the people that were in the woods came back down. They saw Raven. They thought he was an odd stranger. The girl told them that she wanted to marry this person. The people told her to go ahead and marry him so they got married.

In the day time, the people went back into the woods to have fun, but the couple never went there. One day, Raven asked his wife, “What are those people doing back there?”

His wife told him, “I don’t know. But they are playing with something that someone said are Raven’s eyes which someone brought back. They sewed something over them so they do not look like Raven’s eyes.” So Raven found out that they were playing with his eyes.

The people came back in the evening, but in the morning, they went back up and started to play with the ball. “Let’s go up and see what they are doing,” he told his wife. “I want to know what they really do.” So they started up the trail.

As they were walking, they saw what looked like a big sandbar. It was a big area where there were no trees. That was where they were playing. He sat by the edge to see the game of ball they were playing. As he was sitting there, he watched the ball. There were two of them. Sometimes the eyes feel far apart. He wanted to get them but there was no way. He really wanted to get his eyes back. He sat there wishing they would both fall where they were sitting. As he wished, the eyes fell where they were sitting. He grabbed them and took them back. As the players reached for him, he flew off and cawed like a raven. He became Raven again. He put his eyes back on himself. And he flew off saying those were his eyes.

He landed on top of a big tree. The players were really mad at him. They were telling him how bad he was and and they told him, “Maybe we should hit you with an arrow.”

He sat there for a while then took off. As he was going up, his wife who was still standing there, her clothes became Raven’s droppings. They were all white with it. The clothes that she was wearing were very pretty before all this happened. Everyone was mad at Raven. He flew back to his canoe and became a man again. Now that he had his real eyes back, he threw away all those berries that he used for his eyes, and he came back to his home.

(c)1978 Personal communication.

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