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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "Up to the Top of the Sky, and Down to the Bottom of the Sea"

Up to the Top of the Sky, and Down to the Bottom of the Sea

"I wish I could turn over," he said to himself; and in a moment he turned very easily.

But as he did this, he was horrified to see that his body had become covered with long, white hairs, and that his fingers had become long, sharp claws. However, he was so drowsy that he soon fell asleep again. After a long time he awoke and again felt tired from lying so long in one position. He turned as before and fell asleep again for the third time. When he awoke the fourth time Raven stood beside him.

"I have changed you into a white bear," said Raven. "How do you like it?"

Man tried to answer but could not make a sound. Raven waved his magic wing over him and then he said:

"I do not wish to be a bear, for then I would have to live on the sea while my son would live on the shore, and I would be unhappy."

Raven made one stroke of his wings and the bearskin fell from Man and lay on one side, while he sat up in his human form, thankful that he did not have to spend the rest of his life as a polar bear.

Then Raven pulled a quill from his tail and put it into the empty bearskin for a backbone, and after he had waved his wings over it a white bear arose and walked slowly away; and ever since that time white bears have been found on the frozen seas.

"How many times did you turn over?" Raven asked.

"Four times," answered Man.

"That was four years. You slept there just four years," said Raven. "Come now and I will show you some of the animals I made while you slept.

"Here is one like the shrew-mouse of the land; but this one always lives on the ice of the sea, and whenever it sees a man it darts at him, entering the toe of his boot and crawling all over him. If the man keeps perfectly quiet, it will leave him unharmed. But if he is a coward, and lifts so much as a finger to brush it away, it instantly burrows into his flesh going directly to his heart and causing death.

"Here is another, a large leather-skinned animal with four long, wide-spreading arms. This is a fierce animal, living in the sea, which wraps its arms around a man or a kayak and pulls them into the water.

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