"Long ago, the human beings, the animals, all things, had no spirit. They were like shells. Not part of the earth or one with each other. No spirit.
Raven walking along the beach. He looks far out to sea and sees an island of fire throwing flames into the nighttime sky. Raven wants that fire for all the creatures of the world. But Raven is not a good long distance flyer.
Hawk walking along the beach.
He is strong, proud of his long, straight beak. Raven asks, 'Can you help me? I want you to get that fire for me.' 'How am I going to do that?' asks Hawk.
Raven gets a branch and puts pitch on the end of it. He puts it into Hawk’s beak and he tells him, 'Have courage. Be brave. What you are doing, it is for all the creatures of the world.'”
Photo: Andrew Waits
"Hawk flies far out to sea, far out there. He flies around the fire once, twice, three times. On the fourth time he flies right into it. Now Hawk has the fire and he flies back to shore. He’s tired. He has been flying a long time. That fire is hot, melting his long straight beak down to the short curved beak it is now. Hawk is in pain but he hangs onto the fire because he knows what he is doing is for all the creatures of the world.
Raven sees Hawk is in trouble and he calls out to him, “Have courage. Be brave. What you are doing is a good thing!” Raven flies out to him and together they fly back to shore.
Raven takes that fire and he throws it into the rocks, the trees, the animals, all the things growing in the forest. He throws it in the human beings. Now we have the fire. Now we have the Spirit. Now we are alive. Now we are all part of it."
"Now we have the fire. Now we have the Spirit. Now we are alive. Now we are all part of it."
—Gene Tagaban, Storyteller
Gene Tagaban, “One Crazy Raven,” is a Cherokee, Tlingit and Filipino storyteller. He performed at a rally held at the Burke on January 30, 2015 to celebrate the Seahawks’ trip to Super Bowl XLIX and the museum’s display of the Kwakwaka’wakw mask that inspired the team’s original logo.
Excerpted from "In Our Own Words," the Burke Museum 2015 Annual Report.