Native American Mythology

The Gods and Spirits of North America...

TXAMSEM

Tsimshian Trickster God

Also known as We-gyet

The giant Raven of the Tsimshian

This is what the famous trickster Raven is called by the Tsimshian. They tell this story about him:

Once upon a time, the only light in the world was hoarded by a mean old Chief who was not disposed to share it. Txamsem the Raven, bored of fluttering around in the dark, decided this would not do. So he turned himself into a cedar leaf and sneakily fluttered into the chief’s dwelling.

The Chief’s daughter was sipping a drink and Txamsem fluttered into the cup as she raised it to her lips. Swallowing him down, she immediately became pregnant and gave birth. Which caused no end of confusion.

The baby had raven-black hair, dark glowing eyes, and was very temperamental. Whenever it was bored, it shrieked. The Chief, trying to be a doting grandpa, said: “Give the baby what it wants”. So they gave the baby a bag of shining stars. It played merrily with these, until one day in gurgling excitement it threw them through the smoke hole in the ceiling and they scattered up into the sky.

Oh dear. The baby is bored again. It’s bawling. It wants another bag. It’s driving the household crazy. It must be pacified. So they give it a bag containing the Moon and soon the baby is happy again, bouncing the Moon all over the place. You’ll never guess what happens next. Whoooosh! — up through the smoke hole goes the Moon. (Pause for gasp of astonishment from the audience).

Deprived of another toy, the baby becomes really disruptive. The Chief is tearing his hair out. The whole household is muttering. Find something, anything, to keep the baby quiet! The baby rejects all homemade playthings and points to the last bag. Uh-oh. They give it to the baby but with dire warnings. “Don’t untie it because it contains Light — and that leaks like nobody’s business.”

Now you think you know what’s going to happen. But you don’t. What happened is that the baby turned back into Txamsem, cried “Ka very much” and flew through the smoke hole carrying the bag in his beak. He’d stolen the Sun.

Txamsem spread light throughout the world and so the Chief’s daylight saving scheme came to an end. He was very disgruntled. His recorded comments contain very strong language in the Tsimshian dialect.

And that’s the end of the story.

Txamsem Facts and Figures

Name: Txamsem
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names: We-gyet

Gender: Male
Type: God
Area or people: Tsimshian people of the Northwest
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: Mayhem
Area of expertise: Trickster, Mischief, Mayhem

Good/Evil Rating: Unknown at present
Popularity index: 194

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Article last revised on May 24, 2019 by the Godchecker Team.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

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