(Lenni Lenape Tribe)
It was so cold. Snow fell constantly, and ice formed over all the waters. The animals had never seen snow
first, it was a novelty, something to play in. But the cold increased
tenfold, and they began to worry. The little animals were being buried
in the snow drifts and the larger animals could hardly walk because the
so deep. Soon, all would perish if something were not done.
must send a messenger to Kijiamuh Ka'ong, the Creator Who Creates By
Thinking What Will Be," said Wise Owl. "We must ask him to think the
again so that Spirit Snow will leave us in peace."
animals were pleased with this plan. They began to debate among
themselves, trying to decide who to send up to the Creator. Wise Owl
could not see well during the daylight, so he could not go. Coyote was
easily distracted and like playing tricks, so he could not be trusted.
Turtle was steady and stable, but he crawled too slowly.
Rainbow Crow, the most beautiful of all the birds with shimmering
feathers of rainbow hues and an enchanting singing voice, was chosen to
go to Kijiamuh Ka'ong.
an arduous journey, three days up and up into the heavens, passed the
trees and clouds, beyond the sun and the moon, and even above all the
stars. He was buffeted by winds and had no place to rest, but he
carried bravely on until he reached Heaven. When Rainbow Crow reached
the Holy Place, he called out to the Creator, but received no answer.
The Creator was busy thinking up what would be to notice even the most
beautiful of birds. So Rainbow Crow began to sing his most beautiful
The Creator was drawn
from his thoughts by the lovely sound, and came to see which bird was
making it. He greeted Rainbow Crow kindly and asked what gift he could
give the noble bird in exchange for his song.
Crow asked the Creator to un-think the snow, so that the animals of
Earth would not be buried and freeze to death. But the Creator told
Rainbow Crow that the snow and the ice had spirits of their own and
could not be destroyed.
"What shall we do then?" asked the Rainbow Crow. "We will all freeze or smother under the snow."
will not freeze," the Creator reassured him, "For I will think of Fire,
something that will warm all creatures during the cold times."
Creator stuck a stick into the blazing hot sun. The end blazed with a
bright, glowing fire which burned brightly and gave off heat. "This is
Fire," he told Rainbow Crow, handing him the cool end of the stick.
"You must hurry to Earth as fast as you can fly before the stick burns
Rainbow Crow nodded his
thanks to the Creator and flew as fast as he could go. It was a
three-day trip to Heaven, and he was worried that the Fire would burn
out before he reached the Earth. The stick was large and heavy, but the
fire kept Rainbow Crow warm as he descended from Heaven down to the
bright path of the stars. Then the Fire grew hot as it came closer to
feathers. As he flew passed the Sun, his tail caught
on fire, turning the shimmering beautiful feathers black. By the time
he flew passed the Moon, his whole body was black with soot from the
hot Fire. When he plunged into the Sky and flew through the clouds, the
smoke got into his throat, strangling his beautiful singing voice.
the time Rainbow Crow landed among the freezing-cold animals of Earth,
he was black as tar and could only Caw instead of sing. He delivered
the fire to the animals, and they melted the snow and warmed
themselves, rescuing the littlest animals from the snow drifts where
they lay buried.
It was a
time of rejoicing, for Tindeh - Fire - had come to Earth. But Rainbow
Crow sat apart, saddened by his dull, ugly feathers and his rasping
voice. Then he felt the touch of wind on his face. He looked up and saw
the Creator Who Creates By Thinking What Will Be walking toward him.
not be sad, Rainbow Crow," the Creator said. "All animals will honor
you for the sacrifice you made for them. And when the people come, they
will not hunt you, for I have made your flesh taste of smoke so that it
is no good to eat and your black feathers and hoarse voice will prevent
man from putting you into a cage to sing for him. You will be free."
the Creator pointed to Rainbow Crow's black feathers. Before his eyes,
Rainbow Crow saw the dull feathers become shiny and inside each one, he
could see all the colors of the rainbow. "This will remind everyone who
sees you of the service you have been to your people, and the sacrifice
you made that saved them all."
And so shall it ever be.