Haida stories tell of a time when the animals were people like us: the people of the air, the people of the water, the four-legged people. Humans were simply the two-legged people. The others were our brothers and sisters. They taught us how to live and be true haada-laas (good people). We survived because of their teachings.
My stories stretch from before the beginning of time to the present day. I take my audience on this journey from the past to the present. It is a safe journey, and usually a fun one. When I perform I use humour as much as possible, with the reminder that laughter is healing. Tears are also healing, and some stories evoke these as well. Both are good.
Depending on the occasion, I perform stories about Raven creating our world; stealing the light; getting salmon; bringing fire; meeting Salmon Woman; discovering other worlds; creating the first people; having a feast. I have several stories on other topics ranging from powerful women; a fisherman and a whale...there are too many to list.
I use my rattle, drum, and my songs to enhance my stories. I usually alternate by telling a story, then singing a song.
I often perform wearing my traditional Haida button robe and cedar hat. As I perform I teach some Haida words to my audience and share some of the history and culture of my people.
This story belongs to my people, the Haida. My people own stories, songs, dances, and crest-symbols that we use on our totem poles, drums, and button robes. All these items are precious. They are owned to show the other Haida to which family we belong. When you share this story, I ask that you honour it and acknowledge it as a story belonging to the Haida people.
Before the beginning of this world nothing existed. Not a blade of grass, not the ocean, not our world. Raven was flying through darkness for ages and ages. As he flew, his flapping wings stirred the blackness together. Soon the dark mass moved into a round ball which was our world.
Our world was truly beautiful. Raven saw how lovely it was and it stirred his heart in such a way that he decided to change his shape into a beautiful man and live in the world. He decided to try and make this world better than it already was. It was almost perfect.
Raven made himself a village. He built a house. He went fishing. He dried some fish, and he smoked some fish. He put some away for later. He cleaned his house. He cooked for himself. He went berry picking. He walked the long beaches. But he was alone. He was lonely for the company of people.
Raven decided to have a feast and invite the world.
'If I have feast, he thought, 'I'll need a lot of food.'
He gathered his hunting spear, his fishing nets and went into the world. He hunted and fished for many, many, many days. After each day he stopped and set up drying racks and started fires to preserve the food. He had little camps set up all over the place. When food was dried or smoked, he put it into storage boxes. He put these into his house. It took a long time to prepare the food, but when he was done, he smiled and said,
'It's time to invite my guests to my feast'.
Raven turned to the east and he stomped his foot four times. The Red Skinned People came in their canoes. They were of many different nations and they spoke many different languages. Raven welcomed these peoples into his territory and made them comfortable.
He then turned to the south and he stomped his foot four times. He waited and saw the Yellow Skinned People coming in their canoes speaking their different languages, and wearing different clothing. He welcomed them to his territory and he made them comfortable in his village.
He turned to the west and he stomped his foot four times. He looked and waited. He could feel excitement building in his chest as he saw the canoes of the Black Skinned People coming. They also spoke many languages and they wore different clothing.
He then turned to the north and he stomped his foot four times. He peered towards the horizon and he saw the White Skinned People coming in their canoes. They, too, spoke different languages and wore different clothing. He welcomed these last guests to his territory and got them settled comfortably in his village.
The People introduced themselves to each other. The feast started. The food was served. They ate and ate until they could eat no longer. The feast lasted for days, weeks, months, years. The different nations started sharing with one another. People sang songs, danced, laughed, cried, told stories. Each person took a turn and shared something of their self. It was a wonderful sight to behold.
When each guest ate, shared, and was given a gift, Raven bade each one farewell as he sent them back home to their own parts of the world.
I believe that our entire world's population is invited to Raven's Feast. We are invited to this World by being born to live on this earth for a time, however long that might be. We belong to different nations. We are given gifts from the Creator, each one a different gift than everyone else. We come and live and share our gifts with each other. We eat, we laugh, we cry, we get angry, we die. So think of this as you live your life.