An Examination of - How the Loon Lost Her Voice, story told and illustrated by Anne Cameron
A favorite story from the North West Coast Indians, tells the story of how the animals all rally together to bring back the sun after it had been taken by evil spirits. All of the animals have a go at trying to free the sun from a box that they have placed it. The evil spirits have created a wall of ice to surround them and the box that the animals must either get over or under. The first to try is the Osprey but she is stopped by the evil spirits because she came over the top of the wall. The animals meet again and decide on their next move. The Deer with his large antlers try to smash the ice wall down. He tries over and over until his antlers finally fall off. Next it is the Bear’s turn, he figures that since no one is getting to the other side of the ice wall then it’s the Evil Spirits that have to be beat. Well as you can guess he comes back the beaten one. The Evil Spirits didn’t even break a sweat, they defeated him with magic. The Raven the whole time has been telling them that the Evil Spirits can’t be defeated by violence or force. The Loon said “This will never do.” and Raven answered, “but what are you going to do with ears that won’t listen? Violence never solved anything.”
The story goes that at that time the Loon had the most beautiful singing voice, all the animals and people would come and listen to her as she floated on the water singing her song. Even the whale and fish would come the the surface to hear her. Loon had an idea, she was very black and thought the Evil Spirits would not be able to see her in the dark if she was able to got under the ice wall and come up next to the box she could free the sun. She asks Mole who is a good digger to help her. In the story Mole tells Loon that he would be happy to help but that he can’t see. So Loon becomes the eyes for Mole and they successfully dig under the wall of ice. Loon gets all the way to the box and gets the lid off, but as she reaches for it the daylight hits the beautiful white necklace she wears around her neck.
This is where the story gets violent again. The Evil Spirits see the daylight glitter off her neck. “They grabbed her by the neck swung her around in circles, and threw her back over the top of the wall of ice and cold.”
Raven was out raged by the treatment of this bird and thought to herself that she was all black and the daylight wouldn’t flash off any of her. So she repeats what the Loon had done, but she covers the daylight with a big black wing and manages to get it back through the hole and Free the Daylight. The Evil Spirits are defeated and run away.
The animals were so happy and they ask the Loon to sing a song of happiness.
“But when Loon opened her mouth to sing, they all realized what a terrible price she had paid in her attempt to free the daylight. The only sound that came out was a sad, lonely call that made those who heard it think of all they one had, but lost.”
So as the sun sets we might hear the Loon sings her sad song.
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