Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Folktale: Raven Returns the Water

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This is a Native American folktale whose tribal origin is unknown to me. It is rare in that Raven is female in this story. Most Alaskan and Northern stories have Raven as male.

Raven Returns the Water

In the old time, it happened that all of the water in the world had vanished. Rivers were nothing but bare stones. Lakes were reduced to dry dirt. Trees were losing their leaves and dying. Even the animals were beginning to die from thirst. Things were looking grim.

Raven, who had created the heavens and the earth, knew that she must do something to save her beautiful world. She flew far and wide over the dry earth. She flew over glacial mountains with no snow or ice. She flew over vast fields of dry brown grass. After many days, she finally found one green valley hidden away within a desert of dried up oceans.

In the middle of the valley sat a rather enormous frog. His belly was huge and round, filled with all the world's water. When the giant frog saw Raven approaching, he flicked his massive tongue and knocked Raven from the sky. The giant frog croaked, "I will never share!" Raven thought quickly and as Frog spoke, she placed a stone on his tongue that Frog then swallowed. Soon Frog felt bad in his stomach.

"I will help you, Frog," said Raven, "if you promise to share the water with the rest of the world." Frog agreed. He would do anything to stop the pain. So Raven pierced Frog's side with her beak, letting out all the water and the stone. She gathered the water together and tucked it under her wing. She is Raven, after all, and can do amazing things.

Raven immediately began to fly around her creation, letting drops fall, and slowly refilled the rivers, lakes, and oceans. Frog suddenly felt very sorry. He remembered how much he had enjoyed sitting on a rock in the water waiting for flies to come by. Even today, you can still hear him say, "Sor-ry, Sor-ry." And you can hear Raven's reply, as she flies through the sky, "Rock, rock, rock," a reminder to Frog to not be so greedy.

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