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Raven and Goose-Wife [archive]

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Raven and Goose-Wife

Whereas many Alaskan birds migrate annually to warmer climates, Raven always stays near his people. In this Eagle Han tale, Raven once tried to fly away with the geese, but decided to stay in Alaska forever.

It is said that Raven once fell in love with a beautiful young goose girl. They stayed together all summer long, but when fall came and snow was soon to arrive, the goose girl wanted to join her relatives to fly south. Raven decided to go with her because he loved her so much and she would not stay.

Now Raven can fly as good as any other bird, but he cannot fly very far at one time. He tried to keep up with the large flock, but he was always growing tired and had to rest often. When the geese did stop to sleep and eat, they always stopped at places where there was no food for Raven. Because of this, he was becoming weaker every day. The geese were in a hurry to get away from the coming cold and they did not like waiting for Raven all the time. His goose-wife let him ride on her back, but because he was so heavy she couldn't carry him for long. The girl's folks carried Raven for a while, too, but they soon grew tired as well. They took turns like that until they came to the ocean.

The girl's father told Raven that the ocean was very far across and that there would be no place to land and rest. He told him that they could not make it with him on their backs. Raven thought about this and decided that he would have to stay. He said good-bye to his beloved goose-wife, and then he flew home where he has lived since. Now ravens live here all the time because they can't fly across the ocean like the geese.

Additional Reading

  Han Athabaskans
  Native American legends
  Northwest Coast tribes
  Native tribes of Alaska

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