Raven Brings the Light – Evaluating Multicultural Literature

Darkness covers the land.  It seems to have been this way for a long time, maybe forever. A boy named Weget is born on Haida Gwaii (once called the Queen Charlotte islands) in far northern B.C.  Weget means big man.  The Elders say that he is the one who is prophesied to bring the light, and the fish and the berries.  And out of an old cedar chest, they give him the tools to do just that.  These tools include a huge Raven skin so that he can become Raven and fly away to the Chief of the Heavens to bring back the light he keeps in a box.

This is the Haida version of the Raven story that exists all along the Pacific Northwest coast.  The Quality of the Literature works very well for it’s form – that of an origin/hero myth. The illustrations are bright and beautiful with a mix of what seems to be traditional motifs and modern landscapes. 3 points.

The author is Haida and Tsimshian.  The story originated from an oral version told to the author by the Chief of the Ravens, from the village of Kitkatla.  Kitkatla is a Tsimshian village.  The Authority seems solid.  3 points.

I don’t know how to judge the Authenticity of Characters in a story like this.  Everything is magical/strange AND I’m an outsider to the culture, so I’ll hedge my bets and give it 2 points.

The setting operates on two planes of existence:  the temporal and the spiritual. The temporal is very locally specific with references to the Hero’s flight up the Skeena and Nass rivers (the major rivers in Northern B.C. that even I know about).  Petroglyphs showing this story along these rivers have been dated back over 3,000 years.  The archipelago of islands that dot the northwest coast are referenced and mythically explained as well.  They mythical plane is something the reader just has to suspend their disbelief/western sense of reality for – like all myths.  3 points.

The Dialogue isn’t naturalistic by any means, but it is easily understood.  I only assume that non English words are spelled correctly because of the story’s provenance. Nothing seems derogatory.  3 points.

The theme of Raven bringing the light or the sun is a story told in various forms up and down the Northwest Coast.  I can’t really say that the theme is universal though (except the prodigal son undergoing a hero’s journey part), so I’ll give this 2 points.

2 thoughts on “Raven Brings the Light – Evaluating Multicultural Literature”

  1. Hey, Ryan!

    You provided a great summary of the book in a unique way. I like how you set the scene at the beginning of your post and continued to describe the book, giving it points, along with your personal thoughts on it. I also like that you recognized your cultural differences and shared that you may not be able to understand every aspect of the story.

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