A long time ago, it was always night. Only Crow, who flew far south and north again, knew of daylight, and he told many stories of the brightness and shadow to the Inuit people. In time, they began to ask for daylight themselves, but No, said Crow, I am too old to drag daylight so far north for your hunters to see by.
Please, said the people, and finally Crow agreed to spread his old wings once more and fly beyond the horizon to find daylight for them. He flew many miles through the northern darkness, often thinking it would be wisest to return home. But finally the edge of the world turned grey, and he knew he was close to daylight. With a mighty flap of his wings, he flew past the edge of the world and into the bright colors of day. The sky was no longer starry or full of dancing green and red lights, but blue as the ocean below. The earth was no longer rough and featureless, but green and brown and hilly. There was a beautiful village and many happy people who played and worked in the daylight, but Crow was very tired, so he tucked his head under his wing to hide from the brightness so he could sleep.
When he was rested, he lifted his head again. To his surprise, the daylight was gone, although a fire burned nearby, like a spark of daylight had been left behind. Crow became soot and flew down a chimney to the fire, which was not a fire at all. It was a box with daylight leaking from the edges, but clever as he was, Crow could not open the box.
A little boy played beside the box. Crow flew into the boy’s ear and made it itch so that the child cried out. Immediately the boy’s grandfather came running, asking, What is wrong, my grandson?
Tell him you want to play with the daylight! said Crow, and the boy did. His grandfather scooped out a ball of daylight and gave it to the boy, but Crow made the boy’s ear itch even more, and the boy cried out again.
What is wrong, my grandson? asked the grandfather, and Crow said, Tell him you want to play with it outside!
The boy did, and the grandfather let him out with the ball of daylight. The world brightened and Crow shook off the soot, becoming Crow again. Then he snatched the ball of daylight away from the boy (for no crow ever could resist something so brilliant and shining) and flew away north with it clutched in his claws.
The Inuit people knew Crow had succeeded when strange light began to creep across their land and show them things they had never seen. They cheered and called their thanks to Crow, who hung the daylight he had stolen in the sky.
But he had taken only half of the daylight from the south, so that is why the Northern lands have six months of light and six of dark, and why the lands to the south have twelve hours of light and twelve of dark.
(Canadian Inuit legend adapted by CE Murphy.)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)