Language: "Connected with the raven's function
as messenger is its ability to speak or understand the language
of men, and of men to acquire understanding of its speech. When
a Siberian shaman conjures up a spirit it talks in its own language
unless it is a wolf, fox or raven, which have human speech. In
an Icelandic tale we hear of a bishop who understood raven language.
The German legend of Faithful John who overhears three crows
talking and is thereby forewarned of three dangers is paralleled
in India by the story of Rama and Luxman. The Buriats relate
that a man learned how to cure a Khan's daughter by overhearing
the conversation of two ravens." E.A. Armstrong, The
Folklore of Birds. New York, 1970.
1989, cultural anthropologist James Clifford attended a meeting at
the Portland Art Museum between "‘about twenty people
(who) had gathered to discuss the museum’s Northwest Coast
Indian collection." The
group included "Tlingit elders accompanied by a couple
of younger Tlingit translators." The objects under discussion
were in the museum’s Rasmussen Collection, amassed in the 1920s
in southern Alaska and along the coast of Canada. "The curatorial
staff seems to have expected the discussions to focus on the objects
in the collection…In
fact, the objects were not the subject of much direct commentary by
the elders, who had their own agenda for the meeting.They referred
regalia with appreciation and respect, but they seemed only to use
them as aides-memoires, occasions for the telling of stories and the
of songs." J.
Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century.
MA (Harvard U. Press), 1997.