The Eagle Crest
Category: ALASKAN STORIES
Source: Indian Legends Retold
It is well known that there is a certain clan which claims the Eagle
for its crest or totem, and this is how it happened.
There was once a very poor man, so poor that he could not even get
enough to eat. He was always cruising around in a small canoe, trying
to catch a few little fish with which to keep himself alive. One day
he caught nothing, and as he had brought no food with him in the boat
he became very hungry.
Early in the morning, as he lay on the shore, he heard a voice but
could not tell where it came from. The voice said: "I have come after
you." The man looked all around him, but saw only a young Eagle
perched upon the branch of a tree. Then the voice said quite plainly:
"My grandfather has sent me to get you." This time the Eagle looked
to him like a real person, and he followed it into the woods.
The trail led to a fine large house high up on a cliff, and inside
there was plenty of good food. There were also mats to sit upon and
all the comforts to be found in good houses. The Eagles treated the
poor man well, and since he was wretched and despised among his own
people, he wanted to stay with them always. He married one of the
Eagle women and became one of them.
Now the mother and brothers of this man were just as poor and
contemptible as he had been, and he pitied them, now that he himself
was well off. Whenever he saw his brother out fishing, he would leave
some fish where the other could find it. The brother was astonished at
his luck and could not account for it.
One night his mother had a dream. She dreamed that a large fish might
be found upon a certain point of land, and when they went there, the
fish was where she had dreamed she saw it. Soon afterward she dreamed
that they must camp on a certain spot, where they would find much
food. While they camped there, they all saw an Eagle bring a fish
ashore, after which he sat upon a branch not far from them, and
exclaimed: "Do not be afraid; it is I!"
Such is the origin of the Eagle clan, which is now a large one and
respected of all the people.
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