Framed Art Card - Shapeshifter (Raven)
Our people believe in a time when our ancestors wore the clothes of animals. They could take off their animal skin and become human and put that skin back on and return to their animal form. Many of our crest figures harken back to this era of transformation.
In the time before the flood, our ancestors could shapeshift into other creatures or objects. One of the common shapeshifters in our history is the trickster raven. While often getting into mischief, he also contributed in setting up the world as we know it today. By transforming himself into a pine needle, for instance, he was ingested by a chief’s daughter, impregnated her and managed to release the sun from a box held in the chief’s possession. The remnants of shapeshifting and transformation can still be seen today in many rocks, rivers, mountains and streams where the old people were changed to become part of the landscape.
As a dancer, I also recognize the power of our songs and regalia to transform ourselves into other creatures. I know the feeling of donning a mask and entering the floor of the Bighouse. I have felt a roar come through me as a I dance the Grizzly Bear and have witnessed dancers become ravens as they hop across the floor. A mask no longer remains wood but instead becomes flesh and feathers. The dancer ceases to be human and shapeshifts into another being altogether.
(9" x 12")