Bird stories, Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)

A Pawnee woman and her two cildren were in the woods. She was cutting boughs while her children were playing. The children were disobedient and wandered in to the woods. The woman started looking for her children. By the fresh water she saw a beaver and asked him if he saw her children. The beaver with a mournful reply: I have not seen them. Then the mother sorrowed greatly and was poor in mind. Then she cried to her friendly spirits to help her, but they were sad. We cannot help you, they said. The fairies have changed your children into crows because they ran into the woods and disobeyed you. Now they must stay in the woods forever. Then was the mother as one bereft of her senses. She fled from the woods and told her husband what had befallen them. And she wept many days. But the husband carved the story upon the totem pole before his lodge, and there, to this day, it stands. And when the crows call from out the forest, children cling close to their mothers, and their mothers say, while gently twining their arms around them, It is good for children to obey.

The Pawnee Indians tell this legend. It was in the far-off times that Tirawa created the world. The men whom he created were strong, and they grew wicked. They forgot the gods who had made them and helped them. They even turned their backs upon the sun. This made Tirawa angry, and he called Paruxti, the cloud, that he send rain upon the people. But they laughed. He sent another, but they only laughed again. Then Tirawa was angry, and his anger was terrible. I will destroy them! he said. Rain and rain until all are drowned!
So Paruxti did as he was commanded. He rained and rained until the water covered earth and trees and mountains. And all the people were drowned.
Tirawa sent a crow, and said to him: If the waters have gone down, you will find beasts and people lying upon the ground. Do not touch them, but come back and tell me.
But the crow disobeyed, and when he saw the dead beasts he ate of them. As he looked from the blue, Tirawa saw him, and was angry. Come not back to Tirawahut, he said. You have disobeyed me. Forever you shall stay upon the earth and live upon dead things.
Then the crow flew to earth, and the sound he made was mournful. Caw! Caw! he cried, in grief that he would never go to Tirawa. Then Tirawa sorrowed for the people who were no more, and he created new people. And he sent Lightning to bear them to earth. And there were men and women upon the earth again.


Nixon-Roulet, Mary F. Indian folk tales. New York, Cincinnati: American book company, c1911.

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