Raven Steals the Moon
EXHIBITION:Preston Singletary: Solo Exhibition
Raven and the Box of Daylight – Retold by Preston Singletary (Tlingit)
The most well-recognized Tlingit story of is that of the Theft of Daylight, in which Raven steals the stars, the moon, and the sun from Naas-sháki Yéil or Naas-sháki Shaan, the Old Man at the Head of the Nass River. The Old Man is very rich and owns three legendary boxes that contain the stars, the moon, and the sun; Raven wants these for himself. Various reasons are given as to why Raven wants the light; such as wanting to admire himself in the light, wanting all living creatures to admire his works, and wanting light to find food easily.
Raven transforms himself into a hemlock needle and drops into the water cup of the Old Man’s daughter while she is out picking berries. She becomes pregnant with him and gives birth to him as a baby boy. The Old Man dotes over his grandson, as is the wont of most Tlingit grandparents.
Raven cries incessantly until the Old Man gives him the Box of Stars to pacify him. Raven plays with it for a while, then opens the lid and lets the stars escape through the chimney into the sky. Later Raven begins to cry for the Box of the Moon, and after much fuss the Old Man gives it to him but not before stopping up the chimney. Raven plays with it for a while and then rolls it out the door, where it escapes into the sky. Finally Raven begins crying for the Box of the Sun, and after much fuss finally the Old Man breaks down and gives it to him. Raven knows well that he cannot roll it out the door or toss it up the chimney because he is carefully watched. So he finally waits until everyone is asleep and then changes into his bird form, grasps the sun in his beak and flies up and out the chimney. He takes it to show others who do not believe that he has the sun, so he opens the box to show them and then it flies up into the sky where it has been ever since.