Raven Steals the Sun

by Vicky on February 28, 2011

I had to go out of town right after Page Presents this week, so I decided to show a short animated film from my collection instead of hauling in all my puppets and props.

How Raven Stole the Sun is the pilot episode of the Emmy-nominated Native-produced Canadian television series, Raven Tales, winner of Best Animated Film at the 2005 Reel to Real International Film Festival for Youth in Vancouver, Canada, Best Animated Short Subject at the 2004 American Indian Film Festival, and Best Native Film at the 2004 Santa Fe Film Festival.

At 30 minutes, it’s too long for preschool story time, so I showed the beginning and then fast-forwarded to the action.  Despite the somewhat long story, the kids were spellbound.  My Raven puppet introduced the film and offered helpful comments and a synopsis of the part I skipped.

Afterwards, everyone made a Sun sculpture inspired by the Nuxalk Sun Mask, circa 1870, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The mask, carved of alder wood by an unknown Nuxalk carver and stained with vermilion obtained in trade from Asia, was acquired for the museum in the early 1900s by George  Hunt, a Kwakwaka’wakw employed by the anthropologist Frank Boas. In indigenous communities, Frank Boas epitomizes the plundering anthropologist who steals cultural treasures.  But, under attack from all quarters for the last 400 years, indigenous people have rediscovered and renewed many aspects of their art and culture through study of objects and recordings preserved in public museums, even when so much has been lost to private collections.

Chris Kientz (Cherokee), co-director and co-writer of Raven Tales, is part of an indigenous renaissance, as native people carry ancient traditions into the 21st century using 21st century technologies.

Here is another story from Raven Tales, about how Bald Eagle got his white feathers. It is presented in three parts. Bald Eagle tells his version of the story, which is not very complimentary to Raven. Then Raven tells his corrected version of the story. Which one do you believe?

Bald Eagle, Part 1

Bald Eagle, Part 2

Bald Eagle, Part 3

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: