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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
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Yup'ik RavenMarshall Cultural Atlas

This collection of student work is from Frank Keim's classes. He has wanted to share these works for others to use as an example of Culturally-based curriculum and documentation. These documents have been OCR-scanned. These are available for educational use only.






The Birth of Raven


A long time ago, before living beings were created, Dis (Moon), his beautiful wife and his sister all lived together. His wife was at times in the form of a bird. Dis was so possessive and jealous of his beautiful wife that he ordered his slaves to kill his sister's sons as soon as they were born. He did not want any male competition.

Every day Dis's sister would leave the house and walk to a point looking out over the water, and there she would weep for her sons. One day as she wept, she heard a voice saying, "Why do you weep?" She looked around and could not see anyone. Then she went home wiping the traces of tears away so her brother would not see that she had been crying.

Time passed and she went back to the same point again, and as she wept she heard a voice, "Why do you weep?" This time, without looking to determine where the voice came from, she said, "Because I had so many sons and my brother always killed them."

The voice she heard was the voice of the killer whale. She was instructed to pick up a small smooth pebble when the tide went out. "Heat up the pebble and then swallow it. Do not get scared," the killer whale said, "you will not be burned."

She did as she was told. When the tide was out, she walked to the water's edge. There she found a small smooth pebble. She carried it to the fire and heated it. When it was hot, she swallowed it. Soon she gave birth to a son. She found a cave where she raised him. He grew rapidly and soon he was a young man.

One day his uncle sent for him. "You are a grown man. It is time for you to work for your uncle." His mother cautioned him and told him that his uncle would kill him. In spite of her warning, he went to his uncle.

He was told to chop down a tree. The tree branches were made of material that was like iron. These branches had killed many of his brothers before him. As they chopped off the branches made of iron, they would fall on them and kill them. The young man, now called Yéll (Raven), began to chop. As he chopped, the iron branches fell on him bouncing from his head, and did not harm him. Since he was formed from a rock, he could not be harmed by the iron branches. He gathered the branches and backpacked them to his uncle's house. There he dropped them by the front entrance. As they fell, the sound of the falling iron branches echoed, claannnnk! His uncle heard the sound of the precious iron branches as he sat by his fire. He groaned, "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Then he calmed himself and called out, "Yéll, did you chop down the tree?"

YéIl answered, "Yes I have brought the branches. I will now bring the tree."

His uncle was furious, and so he plotted. He said, "Yéll, my nephew, you are to return to help me with the dugout canoe that I am building."

Yéll went back to his mother, and she again cautioned him that his uncle would try to kill him. In spite of this warning, he went back and his uncle said to him, "We will walk to the forest." There they began to work on the dugout canoe. After it was dug out, his uncle said, "My canoe, smother him!" At his command, the canoe closed up on YélI. His uncle left him there to die while he went home.

YéII waited until his uncle left. Then he pushed the sides open with his elbows, gathered up the two pieces, put them on his shoulders and packed them to his uncle's house where he dropped the two pieces near the entrance of the house. The spirit of the canoe had already told his uncle what had happened. When his uncle heard the pieces of the canoe fall, he said, "Ahhhhhhhhhhh, my precious canoe!"

Yéll went back to the cave where he lived with his mother. He was angry this time. He was very angry at his uncle. Therefore, he went back to his uncle's house. His uncle had put his wife, Koon, who could change into a beautiful bird, in a wooden box and pulled the box up into the rafters of his house before he left. Yéll came into the house and brought down the box. He was still so angry that he pulled off all the beautiful feathers from the bird and freed it.

Today the Tlingits use the treasured yellow feathers on their headdress.

Yéll knew his uncle would be furious when he came home so he hurried and killed a duck. He also killed a long sharp-nosed bird, and he got into it. Then they went out on the water.

When Yéll's uncle came home his slaves were so scared they scattered into the forest. Soon they could hear Yélls uncle, "Ahhhhhhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhhhhhaga na ahhhhhhhhhhh!" As he moaned, the water began to rise higher and higher and higher. In his anger, Yéll's uncle called on this last weapon, the flood, to take revenge on his nephew!

As the water continued to rise and rise, Yéll began to fly straight up. He flew and flew until he finally reached the sky. His long beak went through the sky and he hung there. His mother floated on the water as it rose. A long time later, he could feel the water, and he knew that the flood had reached its peak.


Elaine Abraham
The Birth of Raven

Raven in Southeast Mythology

Raven Finds Water

- Robert and Nora Cogo

Raven Steals The Sun, Stars And Moon

The Creation Legend

The Great Flood

- Robert and Nora Cogo

Yéll and His Wife

- Elaine Abraham

The Birth of Raven

- Elaine Abraham

Raven and the Birds

- Elaine Abraham

Raven and the King Salmon

Student Encounters
Original Student Folktales
from our community
S.E. Alaska


Christmastime Tales
Stories real and imaginary about Christmas, Slavik, and the New Year
Winter, 1996
Christmastime Tales II
Stories about Christmas, Slavik, and the New Year
Winter, 1998
Christmastime Tales III
Stories about Christmas, Slavik, and the New Year
Winter, 2000
Summer Time Tails 1992 Summertime Tails II 1993 Summertime Tails III
Summertime Tails IV Fall, 1995 Summertime Tails V Fall, 1996 Summertime Tails VI Fall, 1997
Summertime Tails VII Fall, 1999 Signs of the Times November 1996 Creative Stories From Creative Imaginations
Mustang Mind Manglers - Stories of the Far Out, the Frightening and the Fantastic 1993 Yupik Gourmet - A Book of Recipes  
M&M Monthly    
Happy Moose Hunting! September Edition 1997 Happy Easter! March/April 1998 Merry Christmas December Edition 1997
Happy Valentine’s Day! February Edition 1998 Happy Easter! March/April Edition 2000 Happy Thanksgiving Nov. Edition, 1997
Happy Halloween October 1997 Edition Edible and Useful Plants of Scammon Bay Edible Plants of Hooper Bay 1981
The Flowers of Scammon Bay Alaska Poems of Hooper Bay Scammon Bay (Upward Bound Students)
Family Trees and the Buzzy Lord It takes a Village - A guide for parents May 1997 People in Our Community
Buildings and Personalities of Marshall Marshall Village PROFILE Qigeckalleq Pellullermeng ‘A Glimpse of the Past’
Raven’s Stories Spring 1995 Bird Stories from Scammon Bay The Sea Around Us
Ellamyua - The Great Weather - Stories about the Weather Spring 1996 Moose Fire - Stories and Poems about Moose November, 1998 Bears Bees and Bald Eagles Winter 1992-1993
Fish Fire and Water - Stories about fish, global warming and the future November, 1997 Wolf Fire - Stories and Poems about Wolves Bear Fire - Stories and Poems about Bears Spring, 1992



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Last modified August 23, 2006