Raven, the Spirit Helper

A Gwich'in legend of their creation

Passed on to us by Bill Jones

    A long time ago there were no living animals on earth. The Sky Spirit decided that the earth universe needed someone to take care of it and keep everything in harmony. The Sky Spirit sent Raven to earth to decide what to do. Raven decided to create man. The first creature that Raven created was Wolf. The Sky Spirit was not satisfied, so Raven then created man and gave man a larger spirit than wolf. Since then, man and wolf have shared a close kinship. Wolf's spirit is second only to man.

    Then Raven made Beaver Man and told Beaver Man to go everywhere and make things right for man and wolf. Beaver Man went about making rivers and more animals. Where water was needed Beaver Man would break a willow limb and poke a hole in the ground. Then water would come out of the hole and a river would be started right there. After many small rivers were made they came together and the big Yukon River was made.

    Athabascans of Alaska believed in Spirit Helpers who were given magical powers by the supreme being. Their spiritual leaders, called "Yataalii (male) and Ahtnii (female)" were endowed by the supreme being with the ability to call upon spiritual helpers to perform supernatural feats, all to keep harmony in the earth universe. (In similar manner that Jesus Christ created baskets full of fish from a meager few, to feed the multitude.) The Yataalii would "dream" and a spirit helper would appear in the form of an animal or bird to perform the feat. Thus it was easy for them to accept Christianity which embraced many of their ancient spiritual beliefs.