Image by littleREDelf
shot at the entrance to an exhibit
"Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World"
National Museum Of The American Indian –
NMAI on the National Mall, Washington, DC
Our Universes focuses on indigenous cosmologies—
worldviews and philosophies related to the creation
and order of the universe—and the spiritual relationship
between humankind and the natural world.
There are myths about how the light came to be … this is one of them :sun:
Raven Steals The Sun
In the beginning, Raven was born out of the darkness. There was no moon or stars at night. Raven was the most powerful being. He made all of the animals, fish, trees, and men. He had made all living creatures. But they were all living in darkness making it very difficult for anyone to hunt or fish or gather berries for food.
One day Raven learned that there was a chief living on the banks of the river who had a very wonderful daughter who possessed the sun, the moon, and the stars in carved cedar boxes. The chief guarded her and the treasure well.
Raven knew that he must trick the villagers to steal their treasure, so he decided to turn himself into a grandchild of the great chief. Raven flew up on a tall tree over their house and turned himself into a hemlock needle. Then, as the needle, he fell into the daughter’s drinking cup and when she filled it with water, she drank the needle. Inside the chief’s daughter, Raven became a baby and the young woman bore a son who was dearly loved by the chief and was given whatever he asked for.
Both father and daughter were delighted with their new addition and played with him for hours on end. As the child explored his new surroundings he soon determined that the light must be kept in the big box in the corner. When he first tried to open the box, his grandfather scolded him profusely which in turn started a crying and squawking fit the likes of which the old man had never seen. As grandfathers have done since the beginning of time he caved in and gave the child the biggest box to play with. This brought peace to the hut for a brief time but it wasn’t long until the child pulled his scam again, and again, and again until finally only one box remained.
After much coaxing and wailing the old man at last agreed to let the child play with the light for only a moment. As he tossed the ball of light the child transformed into the Raven and snatching the light in his beak, flew through the smokehole and up into the sky.
Raven was so caught up in all the excitement of the newly revealed world that he nearly didn’t see the Eagle bearing down on him. Swerving sharply to escape the outstretched talons, he dropped nearly half of the ball of light which fell to the earth. Shattering into one large and many small pieces on the rocky ground the bits of light bounced back up into the heavens where they remain to this day as the moon and the stars.
Once he was far away from the village, he heard people speaking in the darkness and approached them.
"Who are you and would you like to have light?" he asked them. They said that he was a liar and that no one could give light. To show them that he was telling the truth, Raven opened the ornately carved box and let sunlight into the world. The people were so frightened by it that they fled to every corner of the world. This is why there is Raven’s people everywhere.
The world was instantly changed forever. Mountains sprang into the bright sky and reflections danced on the rivers and oceans. Far away, the Eagle was awakened and launched skyward – his target now clearly in sight. And so was the Raven changed – his snow-white feathers never became white again after they were blackened by the smoke from the fire of holding the sun in his mouth.
Now there are stars, the moon and daylight, and it is no longer dark all of the time.