Seagull’s Gift (Tlingit)
When the world was new, all the creatures were given boxes with parts of the new creation inside. The rain was given to Frog, and wind was given to Eagle, the trees were given to Chipmunk, and the mountains were given to Cougar, and fire was given to Spider.
But the gift of light, held in a little wooden box, was given to Seagull.
Almost all of the animals opened their boxes and turned the gifts loose on the world so that everyone could enjoy the soothing rain, the cooling wind, the warming fire.
But Seagull would not open his box. So Raven, who is Seagull’s brother, decided to trick him.
At night, when the tide was low, Raven went down to the beach and picked up some sea urchins. A sea urchin has a hard shell with little sharp spines all over it. After he had eaten these sea urchins, Raven dropped those sharp spiny shells by Seagull’s door, and then he flew away home.
When Seagull went outside in the morning, the spines of those sea urchin shells stuck into Seagull’s feet. Oh, how he cried.
Raven came. “Why are you crying? What happened to you?” asked Raven.
“I stepped on sea urchin spines, and they are stuck in my foot! Pull out the spines, Raven!”
Raven bent down and pretended to look. “I can’t see spines in your foot, Seagull. It’s too dark. Open up your box of light so I can see.”
Seagull opened up the box a tiny, tiny bit, and a tiny, tiny bit of light flew out of the box and into the sky. That little bit of light became the stars, and they are still there.
Raven bent down and pretended to look again. “I still can’t see the spines in your foot, Seagull. Open up your box of light again.”
Seagull opened up his box a tiny, tiny bit more, and a bit more light flew out of the box and into the sky. That bit of light became the moon and it is still there.
Raven pretended to look again. “I can almost see the spines now, but not quite, Seagull,” he told his brother. “Open your box up all the way.”
Seagull didn’t want to open the box. But his foot hurt from the sea urchin spines.
He opened the box, and all of the light flew out of the box and into the sky. That light became the sun and it is still there.
Seagull saw his beautiful light escaping him. He stood on one foot and cried for the sun. If you go to the beach when the sun rises each morning, you will see Seagull.
He is still there.