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Chief's Rattle


Chief's Rattle
Chief's Rattle
19th-20th century
Wood, leather, and haliotis shell
The Christina N. and Swan J. Turnblad Memorial Fund

Key Ideas
Discussion Questions

In the beginning, the world was dark. The people wondered and argued about something they had heard of, but had never seen - daylight. Some said that the river chief kept daylight in a special box.

Raven lived in the dark world.1 He was sly, wise, greedy, and meddlesome. And he could change his form to suit his own needs. Raven decided to find out about daylight, so he turned into a hemlock needle and dropped into a freshwater spring. When the river chief's daughter came to the spring to drink, Raven floated into her cup, and she swallowed him. In due time, Raven was born as the grandson of the river chief.

Raven grew very fast and his grandfather adored him, even though he threw tantrums and his eyes looked a little like a raven's. When he screamed, his doting grandfather let him play with the Moon Box. He opened the box and the moon escaped into the sky. When Raven wailed again, his grandfather let him play with the Box of Daylight. As soon as the box was in his possession, Raven changed back into a bird and flew through the smoke hole and disappeared into the darkness.

Raven brought the box to the people and opened it slightly, allowing a few streaks of daylight to escape. But they did not believe he actually had daylight. Angered by the people's skepticism, he threw open the box and flooded the world with the bright light of day.

1 Some believe that Raven was actually a human being, or even a great chief, who slipped into the skin of a raven when he wanted to be tricky. Return to Text

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