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Totem Stories

Raven and the Sun

The carvings on this bench depict a story from the Salish people of the northwestern United States and British Columbia. The story explains how Raven delivered the sun, moon, stars, and fire to humanity. These treasures are necessary for human survival, but came at the cost of Raven’s suffering. A powerful shaman, hostile toward people, had kept them hidden beneath the sea. Raven, disguised as a white owl, was able to win the shaman’s trust and grab the treasures. Raven then released them one by one for the benefit of humanity. When Raven carried the Sun his feathers were burned black and his claws shriveled, because he had to carry it so high and so long before he let it go in the sky.

Symbols and colors on this bench:

  • Sun: Healing energy, guardian of the earth by day
  • Raven: Creation and knowledge—bringer of the light
  • Red: Blood, valor
  • Black: Power
  • White: Skies and spacious heavens