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The legend of Raven and Fog Woman.

The people of the Northwest felt a special connection to certain animals and figures. Some of the best-known legends involve Raven, a large black bird with magical powers. Many legends tell of Raven's deeds and the gifts he brought to people on Earth.

One legend focuses on the magical powers of Raven's wife, Fog Woman. "The story of the Fog Woman tells of the return of the salmon--an important natural resource--in the summer and fall," says master carver Israel Shotridge.

With the help of an assistant, Shotridge carved a 55-foot reproduction of an old totem pole telling the story of Fog Woman. The 2,000-pound pole has a gidjuk (or mountain eagle) at the top, which represents a family crest, and several carefully carved figures below.

According to the legend, Raven and his friends (shown in the middle of the pole) could only catch bony bullhead fish in the heavy fog. But when a woman (shown on the bottom of the pole with two salmon) suddenly appeared in her canoe, the fog lifted. She dipped her hand into the water, and salmon immediately appeared.

Raven married Fog Woman, and she asked him to build a smokehouse for all of the salmon she caught. Raven built the small house, but he resented Fog Woman's talent. He treated her with disrespect, and Fog Woman decided to leave his camp.

When she walked toward the beach, Raven tried to hold her back. She disappeared into the mist, and all of the salmon followed her to the sea. But every year, Fog Woman returns to the same stream and brings the salmon back to the place of their birth to replenish the waters.

"The legend," says Shotridge, "reminds us that we must value the salmon and the gifts that others offer us."

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Publication:Highlights for Children
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:100NA
Date:Nov 1, 2007
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