Raven figures prominently in creation stories and other tales told by native people throughout the Pacific Northwest. In most versions of the Raven tale, he is a shapeshifter who moves between human and bird form. When all the world was enveloped by darkness and cold, Raven flew to the lodge of the Great Sky Chief. There he took human form and tricked his way into the Sky Chief’s lodge, finding the sun, moon, and stars trapped within. He set the moon and stars free through a smoke hole in the roof of the lodge. Then, transforming back into a bird, he carried the sun in his beak and placed it in the sky.
Originally the subject of stories that were passed down orally, Raven is also prominently featured in native masks, artwork, carvings, and sculpture of the region. The artwork for the Raven Story stamp was created by Rico Worl (Tlingit/Athabascan) in an indigenous style called formline, which combines features of traditional representational art with abstract, linear forms.
Raven is depicted midway through his metamorphosis from man back into bird, and so has wings and a beak as well as a human hand (visible at lower right of the stamp.) The stars and the sun in his beak are stamped in gold foil, causing the stamp to sparkle in the light, honoring Raven’s lightbringer role.
The Raven Story stamp was issued July 30, 2021 in Juneau, Alaska.