Finally, the big day arrived. Everyone came to Raven's potlatch except the animals that had flown south for the winter, and the animals that were snoozing away in their caves and burrows. Everyone that is except Squirrel. Raven had not invited Squirrel.
"There's Elk," Raven called out. Raven soared off, supposedly to see who else was approaching. Instead, Raven circled around and landed behind Crow's house. Raven used his magic powers to turn himself into Elk. He hurried to Crow's front door.
"Welcome to my potlatch, Elk!" Crow welcomed Raven the Elk excitedly.
"Thank you for inviting me, Crow," replied Raven, who was pretending to be Elk. "I can't wait to hear your beautiful voice!" Raven the Elk lowered his head and entered Crow's house.
Raven flew out the back door, and changed himself into Rabbit. He hopped around to the front of Crow's house.
"Welcome, Rabbit!" cried Crow excitedly.
"Thank you for inviting me!" said Raven, who was pretending to be Rabbit. "I can't wait to hear you sing!"
And so it went. Crow stood by his front door, welcoming what he thought were all the animals in the forest. But really, each and every animal was only Raven in disguise.
As for Raven, when he wasn't busy tricking Crow, Raven stood at the back door, welcoming all the guests to "his" potlatch. Raven was a bit winded from all his running about, but he found the whole thing delightful! No one suspected a thing.
When all the real guests had entered though Crow's back door, Raven dragged Crow away from Crow's front door, and pushed him into the middle of the room.
"Crow is going to sing for us!" Raven shouted over the noise of the party. Crow's singing received huge cheers. "One more song, Crow," called Raven, over and over. Bursting with happiness, Crow sang and sang until his voice was hoarse.
It was a wonderful party. Everyone joked and laughed and ate and cheered Crow's songs. At the end of the party, each guest received a package of food to take home.
"Thank you for inviting me to your potlatch," each guest thanked Raven.
Crow tilted his head in puzzlement. He tried to tell his guests that this was HIS potlatch. But Crow's voice was gone.
That winter, as he knew he would, Raven received invitations to many potlatches. Raven had a wonderful time, laughing and eating. At each potlatch, he received a package of food to take home. But no one invited Crow. After all, Crow had never invited them to a party. Why should they invite him?
Poor Crow. To eat that winter, he had to beg scraps of food from the People. Crow could not even tell anyone what Raven had done. Crow had lost his beautiful voice forever. The only sound he could make was a shrill "caw ". And that, I'm afraid, did not help him at all.
More Raven Stories
Other Native American Stories
More About Native Americans