How The Fire Was Brought
Category: TSIMSHIAN TALES
Source: Indian Legends Retold
After a time, Raven saw that the people were discontented without
fire, for they could neither cook their food nor warm themselves when
it was cold. He remembered that they had fire at home in his father's
village, so he flew westward once more until he came to the wigwams of
the animal people. But however hard he begged, they would not give
him what he had come for.
Raven made a new plan. He went a little way off and sent the Sea Gull
to the camp with this message:
"A handsome young chief will come to feast and dance in the dwelling
of your chief. See that all is ready."
He knew that the people would prepare for their guest, so he caught a
Deer and tied a bundle of pitch-pine to its tail, for at that time the
deer had a long tail like that of the fox. He borrowed the canoe of
the Great Shark, and with the Deer came in it to the village.
As he expected, the house of his father the chief was full of people,
and there was a big fire made and much feasting and merriment. All the
creatures were dancing and singing, and the very birds clapped their
wings for joy.
The Deer entered, leaping and dancing, and his grace was much
admired, but as he danced around the fire he swung his long tail over
it, and the pitch blazed up. He ran out, sprang into the sea and swam
off, with his lighted tail flaring above the waves like a torch. Many
sprang into their canoes and tried to follow him, but he escaped and
reached our shores in safety. There he struck a dead fir tree with his
blazing tail and said to it:
"You shall burn as long as the years last!"
We should remember that it is to him we owe the gift of fire, for his
tail was burned off, and since that day all Deer have had a short
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