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peter kalifornsky Ggugguyni Sukt’a Raven Story A long time ago, they say, the Dena’ina didn’t have stories and songs. Then one time Raven sang for them.1 Before that time, there was only ‘‘Di ya du hu,’’ [a song loosely translated as ‘‘now, there, under, later’’] to keep them together in time when they were working or moving. So Raven was flying along the beach. And where a creek flowed out, there was a fish lying there, a dead one. And he looked up the bank, and there was a village there. He turned himself into a human and visited them. There were only women at home. ‘‘Where are the menfolks?’’ he said to them. ‘‘They’re in the woods, hunting,’’ they told him. ‘‘Have something to eat,’’ they said. ‘‘I don’t eat with strangers,’’ he said to them. He was living on fish from the beach. So he asked for a dip net to go fishing, and he went down to the shore. And there was a cottonwood drift log lying there. He took out one of his eyes and laid it on the log and told the eye, ‘‘If you see people, you holler ‘Yu hu!’’’ Then he put on a bandage and went down to the fish and started eating it. And then the eye hollered, ‘‘Yu hu!’’ And he ran up there, but there was no one there. He spanked that eye and laid it back down. ‘‘If you see anybody, you holler ‘Yu hu!’’’ he told it again. He did this another time [the eye hollered], but again, when Raven rushed up the beach, no one was there. A third time the eye hollered ‘‘Yu hu!’’ but that fish just tasted so good Raven didn’t want to go up the beach. Then after a bit, he heard people talking so he went up there and met them. ‘‘What are you doing?’’ they said to him. ‘‘I’m fishing, but there are no fish, only old ones lying there that something ’s been eating on.’’ peter kalifornsky: raven story  ‘‘What happened to you?’’ ‘‘Sand got in my eye.’’ ‘‘Let’s see, maybe it’s bad,’’ they said to him. ‘‘No,’’ he said. ‘‘When I get hurt, I doctor it myself,’’ he said. Right then they saw that eye on the drift log. ‘‘Ah, that looks like an eye,’’ they said. ‘‘Oh no, don’t touch it! You’ll make a mistake! The eye brings you luck, it’s looking out for you, for good fortune,’’ he told them. ‘‘Only I know what to do,’’ he told them. He picked it up and threw it up in the air three times and sang to it: ‘‘We found something that will bring us good luck!’’ Then he pulled the bandage off his head and the eye dropped back into his eye socket, but it landed slightly crooked. And then he started to sing: ‘‘Ya la, ya la ah hi, ah hi hi yu!’’ Then he turned back into Raven. Three times he cawed ‘‘Ggugh!’’ and he flew away. After that, the Raven’s song became a song, along with ‘‘Di ya da hu.’’ And they sent a messenger to another village to let them know what they had learned. Then they wished to camp when it got dark on the trail, and a boy tried to say, ‘‘Lend me an axe.’’ He made a song: ‘‘Lend me an axe, Dugu -li shghu-ni-hish, ya ha li ya li ma cha ha, a ya ha a li, ya ha li.’’ And with this, they now had three songs. Then a young man wore out his moccasins. And a little old lady who was always prepared for emergencies cut out a piece of skin, and she poked holes around its edge, and she pulled skin strings through them, and he put his foot in the middle of it, and she pulled on the string and it tied up around his ankle. It became his new moccasin. After that time, the Dena’ina came to have songs. They didn’t know who he was, this Raven who visited the people. And they told stories about Raven , how smart he is, and how foolish too. Some time later Raven visited Camp Robber and told him stories. ‘‘I visited the Campfire People,’’ he told him. ‘‘They tell stories about me, with jokes and good times. And when they go hunting, I wish them good luck. And when...


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