Presented below is a retelling of The Shadow People and the Raven, from The Thunder Bird Tootooch Legends, by W.L. Webber.
The Shadow People and the Raven
Raven flew down softly alighting on the beach. Taking off his wings and beak he became a man and walked along the strand. It was a very hot and sunny day and his naked skin began to burn as he walked in the sunshine beside the sea. The beach was covered with shells and as he walked they scrunched underneath him cutting and bruising his feet. Raven made his way to the village to the lodge where the Shadow People lived
The Shadow People saw him coming and whispered among themselves,
“Careful, Raven is here!
He who twists truths!
He who is cunning is here!
Watch him, watch him, watch him!
Raven entered the large shady lodge, glad to escape the burning sun and to rest his cut and wounded feet. Looking around he noticed with surprise how clean and orderly everything was and how everything had its place. Hanging from the beams were salmon and halibut. The roof planks had been left open for the smoke hole and light streamed in illuminating all the corners of the lodge. Raven walked around the lodge and as he did so, he caught a quick glimpse of something from the corner of his eye. He quickly looked around and but there was no one there. He began snooping around just to see what he could see.
He saw lots of different kinds of food stored neatly on shelves around the lodge. There were berries, nuts, roots and many other kinds of food. He was feeling hungry and seeing the red salmon hanging from the beams he took one down and as he did so out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw someone following him. Turning quickly, he saw a shadow was following him everywhere he went but saw no person. Ignoring the follower he made his way over to the Chief’s beautifully carved cedar chest and sat down placing the fish beside him while he looked at his cut feet which were hurting him.
Reaching beside him for the salmon he found to his surprise that it was gone. Thinking he must have been imagining things and had not picked it up after all, he went back and chose another. While doing so he noticed again that a shadow was following close behind him all the time.
He thought this was very strange and mysterious and while he sat thinking about it he put the salmon down beside him to considered the matter. After awhile he reached down beside him for the salmon, but it was gone, which he found very disconcerting. He tried a third and a fourth time but the same thing happened and all the time the shadow followed him. Looking over to where the salmon were hanging he saw the ones he had taken were hanging in exactly the position when he had take them and still the shadow was beside him.
Raven began to lose his temper and tried to stamp and jump on the shadow but it jumped as he jumped and was quicker than him. Then to his surprise someone he could not see said in a loud voice next to him,
“You look to be well fed,
What are you going to do?
Where will this lead you to?”
Whence the questions came,
Raven could not name.
Their bodies were not plain;
He gazed and looked in vain.
Sane or insane was he!
Afraid to wait and see,
He limped toward the door
But, moving as before,
His angry Shadow wriggled.
The others laughed and giggled.
Raven knew ’twas near.
“Something strange is here,
I’ll out, and quick away,
They’ll have no more to say.” (1)
Raven left the lodge and walked back through the village. The villagers ignored him as if he was invisible but he knew they really saw him. To test them he walked over to where a group of children were playing, but still they appeared not to see him. Raven found that no matter where he went and no matter what he did he could not escape from the shadow that followed him.
He came to a place where there were a number of strange wooden carvings and he sat down to try and think things over. Was he cleverer than his own intelligence? Was he stronger than his own self? Would he always be followed by this shadow?
Raven rested until his feet were healed and then putting on his beak and wings assumed the shape of a bird. Flying up into the bright, happy sky he felt free of these concerns. Whether Raven found the answers to all of his questions we do not know, but even now as he flies high in the sky his shadow follows his every move on Earth.
© 28/11/2018 zteve t evans
References, Attributions and Further Reading
Copyright November 28th, 2018 zteve t evans