In the beginning there was no light in the world, because an old magician kept it hidden in a box inside his house. Raven, who was always hungry, didn’t like the darkness because it was difficult to find food. One day he was looking for food near the old magician’s house. He heard a voice saying, “I have a box, and inside this box is another box, and inside this there is another box, and inside the smallest box is all the light in the world.” Raven decided to steal the light.
Raven waited until the old man’s daughter went down to the river to collect water. Just as she was dipping her basket into the river, he changed himself into a *hemlock needle. The needle floated into her basket. When the girl drank some water, she swallowed Raven too.
Inside the girl’s belly Raven took the form of a human baby. He grew and grew, and in time she gave birth to a funny looking child with black eyes and a big nose. The old man loved his grandson so much that he gave in to the child’s every wish. Raven became spoilt and greedy. He was bored with all his toys, and wanted to play with the box that held the light. Finally the grandfather opened the box and tossed the glowing ball of light to Raven.
As soon as Raven caught the light, he immediately changed into his bird form. Holding the light in his beak, he flew up the chimney hole into the dark world. The magician was angry. He wanted to get the light back into his box. He flew after Raven.
The light was heavy in Raven’s beak, and he was getting tired. The magician was coming closer. Raven broke off some pieces of the light and threw them into the sky. They became the stars. The magician was still coming closer, so Raven broke off another piece of the light and threw it into the sky. It became the moon. Finally Raven became so tired that he tossed the last and biggest piece of the light into the sky. It became the sun; and that is how daylight came to the world.
* hemlock needle: the needle-shaped leaf of an evergreen tree.
Story adapted by Mary Mahoney from a traditional Haida legend. The traditional territory of the Haida people includes part of today’s southern Alaska and the islands of Haida Gwaii.