WHEN I WAS IN school at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, you could always tell the girls from Southeast by the fabulous silver bracelets they wore, exquisite, glowing pieces carved with Tlingit and Haida and Tsimshian symbols. It was then that I first learned the legend of Raven stealing the sun, the moon and the stars, not to mention all the legends of Raven stealing pretty much every woman whose man’s back was turned. The—I can only call them seductive—swoops and swirls of the ovoids and U-shapes and S-shapes formed eyes and beaks and claws, and the bodies of eagles and killer whales and seals, and the best of them seemed alive, a window on another world in a small band of silver, wrapped around a girl’s wrist.
I remember the shock of recognition I suffered the first time I saw a totem pole, with the S’s and U’s and ovals of the Southeast girls’ bracelets repeated in cedar logs of wood ten, twenty, forty feet high, stained with red, black and blue paint.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.