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Take Off the Mask... || Reading Notes: Alaskan Legends Part A

And become human...

  • I've always been a fan of these stories where it's not just an animal personified as a man, but where there is an actual transformation back and forth.
  • The fact that the story says that Raven pulls his beak up and down like taking off or putting on a mask is really cool.
  • In this first story, Raven is really a helpful person and a seemingly benevolent creator of so many things.
  • He takes the time to tell Human about all of the animals that he is creating and what each of them is good for.
  • I find the fact that flies and mosquitoes were made to make the Earth more "cheerful" woefully ironic.
  • A-mi-kuk. Can't have a good story by the ocean without a good sea monster.
  • I'm really curious about the variations that Raven mentions that I can't seem to find a good real life companion for. Such as the sea fox or the dog walrus.
  • Reindeer with sharp, dog-like, teeth with an appetite for human flesh? Sounds like a good horror story to me.
  • So Man seems to have a greater perspective then the rest of "mankind" and works well with Raven. I like this two-man team.
    • Especially since it appears that Raven's creation of Man was entirely accidental.
  • "So Raven's brother thought a long time. Then he died." What a roller coaster.
  • Interesting origin for the "lesser" ravens that live on the Earth. Not like the original Raven.
  • ANOTHER, rain/flood story that involves the death of many. Again sent by a god. Why is this so omnipresent in every culture?
  • So I guess there are different iterations of Raven. But his true origins seem a mystery? It is said that he has/had a mother.
  • Burial feasts also seem to be a cross-cultural phenomenon.
  • I wonder if all birds in these Alaskan legends have the ability to "push up their beak like a mask" and become human.
  • This later Raven seems more the trickster. Unconcerned for the lives of the people he meets.
  • Also, Raven falls into the broad category of tricksters who ultimately end up being tricked multiple times.
  • An interesting explanation for the inconstant cycle of day and night that people in the far North would experience. They may have times of the year when the days are incredibly long and other times of the year when the nights are incredibly long.
  • So Raven is still higher than Eagle in some ways.
Raven Man

By: Katharine Berry Judson

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