Dan Gibson, Storyteller/Banjoplayer
Sample Stories and Verse
Pushing Up the Sky
Adapted by Dan Gibson
from the telling of Apache storyteller Emma Ortega of San Antonio.
Thank you, Emma.
copyright 1999 Dan Gibson
A long time ago, maybe even before then, the people had a problem: the sky was
It was so low that there wasn't even room for clouds. It was so low that trees couldn't
grow as tall as they are today. There was no room for birds to fly around.
Sometimes they'd crash into those short trees. There wasn't even room for clouds.
But more importantly, because the sky was so low, grownups couldn't stand up as
straight and tall as they needed to. They had to walk around all stooped over,
looking down at their feet. They couldn't see where they were going.
Now, the children didn't mind this so much. They were short. They could stand up as
straight and tall as they needed to be. They didn't have to walk around all stooped
over looking down at their feet. They could see where they were going.
They knew they would become grownups some day, and that they would have to
walk around all stooped over looking at their feet unless something was done about
the problem. So, they decided to raise the sky.
All the children gathered together -- along with some of the grownups who were
listening -- and put long poles up against the sky. On the count of four, they all
pushed the sky up with a huge shout -- unnn-uhhhhhh.
But it didn't work. The sky fluttered back down to where it had been. The trees still
couldn't grow, the birds couldn't fly, there was no room for clouds, and the grownups
still had walk around all stooped over, looking down at their feet -- couldn't see
where they were going.
So, the children got longer poles, and on the count of four, pushed harder --
unnn-uhhhhhh. It still didn't work.
But, the children were persistent. They tried a third time with even longer poles. It
still didn't work.
"One more time," they shouted. They got the longest poles they could find. And
once again, on the count of four, they pushed as hard as they could -- unnn-uhhhhhh.
This time it worked. The sky stayed up, and it's still there today.
Now there is room for trees to grow; room for birds to fly around; and room for
clouds. Best of all, grownups can stand up as straight and tall as they need to. They
can see where they're going, because the children raised the sky.
But that night, something else amazing happened. When the sun went behind the
sky and it got dark, the people looked up. The sky was full of tiny holes poked into it
by the children's poles, and through each one twinkled a little point of light.
That's how stars came to be. The children put them there when they raised the sky.
That's why grownups have stars to reach for.
Look up on a clear night. You'll think of this story, and you will know it is true.