November 08, 2008

Crow lore from the Narrangansett

It's a gloomy November day - gray skies, humid, and more leaves are on the ground than the trees now. With so many leaves down, though, it's easier to see birds. There were some big noisy crows flapping around the house earlier today.

According to Roger Williams(the founder of Rhode Island whose corpse was apparently absorbed by an apple tree), the the Narragansett Indians would not kill crows, even though they damaged crops:

"These birds, although they doe the corne also some hurt, yet scarce will one Native amongst an hundred kill them because they have a tradition that the Crow brought them at first an Indian Graine of Corne in one Eare, and an Indian or French Beane in another, from the Great God Kautantouwit's field in the Southwest, from whence they hold came all their Corne and Beanes."(A Key Into the Language of the Americas, 1643).

A messenger from the heavenly realm of the creator god Kautantouwit, the crow (or kaukonttuock in the Narragansett language) was responsible for bringing the two staples of Algonquin agriculture into the human world, and therefore was respected and not harmed. According to William Simmons' book Spirit of the New England Tribes, crows were also one of the familiar spirits that aided Algonquin shamans in their work.

So, let's all be nice to crows!

1 comment:

Rich Clabaugh said...

Maybe it's just me, but I feel there's always some truths behind the beliefs of our land's original inhabitants.