The Southern Water Tribe Raids were a series of raids by the Fire Nation military forces on the Southern Water Tribe. These had the strategic goal of eliminating all Waterbenders in the Southern Water Tribe, as well as decimating its population, as part of The War. The raids appeared to be a victory for the Fire Nation, but in actuality, were a strategic defeat, as two Waterbenders, Katara and Hama, survived.
Many years ago, a number of people residing in the Northern Water Tribe left it to found the Southern Tribe, which slowly grew and prospered. Before The War, the Southern Water Tribe had a significant population. The Tribe was based around one great city, which had thick walls of ice.
In 0 ASC, Fire Lord Sozin launched a war on the other nations. The Fire Nation planned to conquer the entire world in The War. This inevitably meant an attack on the Southern Water Tribe. However, as the South Pole was less strategically important to the Fire Nation, with limited resources and only a small population, it was decided that eliminating Waterbenders would be sufficient. This would prevent larger participation in the war by the tribe, reducing resistance against the Fire Nation in the Earth Kingdom.
The Fire Nation did not intend to defeat the Southern Water Tribe in one great battle, as it was not neccessary and would waste resources that could be used elsewhere. Their goals could be achieved more effectively and with less loss of life through a series of short raids that prevented a co-ordinated counterattack. To this end, the Fire Nation created the Southern Raiders, and sent a number of naval forces south.
First Raids Edit
The first raids began in 40 ASC. The raids first occurred on an ordinary day in the Southern Water Tribe, when no attacks by the Fire Nation had been anticipated by the local populace. The people were tending to their normal activities when a large force of Fire Nation warships appeared on the shores of the South Pole. These ships bombarded the many villages scattered across the South Pole, forcing the unprepared Waterbenders to defend their tribe.
The Waterbenders, who numbers were possibly in the hundreds, put up a valiant fight against the Firebenders and were successful in sinking or trapping several of their mammoth warships. Unfortunately, they were outnumbered and outgunned, as the Firebenders easily overwhelmed them and used special tactics to trap and arrest the Waterbenders. The Waterbenders were trapped in special nets used by the Fire Nation that apparently prevented the tribal members from Waterbending. Ultimately, all of the known Waterbenders were captured by the Fire Nation over a 54-year period, and the Southern Water Tribe was left in ruins. With the Waterbenders gone, the non-benders were forced to fend for themselves, and without any sufficient means of defense, they barely controlled their own waters, which were patrolled by Fire Nation raiders.
All Waterbenders were subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment in maximum security prisons where they were denied water except for drinking. With the notable exception of Hama, who managed to break free from her imprisonment by using a new technique called Bloodbending, all of the Waterbenders are believed to have eventually died in prison. Hama then dedicated the rest of her life to exacting revenge on the nation that destroyed her tribe through her continued use of Bloodbending. It was likely years before any more Waterbenders were born into the Southern Water Tribe.
Final Raid Edit
Eight years prior to this final raid, the last Southern Waterbender, Katara, was born to the Chief, Hakoda, and his wife Kya. As the last Waterbender, Katara was a source of hope for the ailing tribe despite her inexperience with the powerful art. Her family attempted to find a master for her, but their efforts ended in failure.
In the year in which the raid occurred, the infamous Southern Raiders, a unit charged with raiding the Southern Water Tribe, was ordered to attack the Tribe again. Their leader, Yon Rha, had been informed by "sources" that one last Waterbender still lived in the Southern Water Tribe. To ensure that this Waterbender could not impede the war effort, he launched the raid with the sole purpose of killing the Waterbender. His sources are unknown, but it is implied that the Fire Nation had a spy or a Water Tribe traitor who leaked this knowledge to the Fire Nation.
The raid occurred in 94 ASC. People saw snoot (snow mixed with soot) begin falling out of the sky, the now well known sign of a Fire Nation attack. Southern Raider ships landed on the shores, and the residents prepared for battle. While Sokka joined the fight, Katara ran for her mother.
Upon arrival, the Southern Raiders charged at the outnumbered and outmatched warriors, who were led by Hakoda. Despite their disadvantage, the warriors actually defeated many of the Raiders with little effort. Unfortunately, this was a diversion so that Yon Rha could infiltrate the village in order to hunt down the Waterbender.
Katara ran into her family's igloo to find that her mother, Kya, was being held hostage by Yon Rha. He was interrogating her on the Waterbender's identity. Kya insisted that Yon Rha let Katara go. Katara was reluctant as she feared for her mother's safety, but fled when Kya reassured her that everything would be okay.
When Katara left, Yon Rha once again demanded to know who was the Waterbender. Kya stated that there were no Waterbenders, as they has all been captured long ago. Yon Rha shot her down, saying that he was fully aware that one Waterbender was still left, and that they would not leave until they found her. Fortunately, Yon Rha did not catch on to the fact that Katara was the Waterbender, so Kya turned herself in as the last Waterbender in order to protect her daughter. She agreed to be taken prisoner, but Yon Rha was not taking any prisoners this time, so he killed Kya with Firebending. He then fled back to his unit.
Katara ran to her father for help, and she and Hakoda rushed back to the igloo to save Kya. By the time they reached her, she was dead and Yon Rha was gone. The Southern Raiders then fled the village, confident that they had achieved victory.
Aftermath and Significance Edit
The raids, particularly the earlier attacks, were very successful. The Southern Water Tribe made no impact at all during most of The War. However, the final raid was a very important strategic failure. Ironically, the one person who this raid was conducted for survived. Katara was the last waterbender of the southern tribe. Six years later, the raid leader, Yon Rha, learned the truth in an astonishing manner - while near his home in the Fire Nation, he was confronted by the girl whose mother he had killed six years ago, and Katara, at the time already one of the most powerful waterbenders in the world, showed him the full, terrifying extent of her power, halting the rain in a wide circle and sending it flying toward him as an icy hailstorm.
The Fire Nation claimed victory in this raid as they had been led to believe that they had killed the last living Waterbender. In reality, their target, Katara, survived. The Fire Nation would not discover this failure for the rest of the War. It would prove a major setback to their war effort, for a number of reasons: as the waterbender they searched for; Katara would grow up to be a powerful waterbender in her own right; and it would be Katara and her use of waterbending that would rediscover the long-lost Avatar, Aang, six years later, thus turning the tide of the War against the Fire Nation. Katara would also ensure that Fire Lord Ozai's chosen heir, Azula could not claim the throne by defeating her in battle.
Kya was the only known casualty of the raid, but her death had a severe impact on her family. Her family was disenheartened, and Hakoda decided that if his dying tribe were to survive, they had to help win the War. Kya's death was a major reason why the Water Tribe warriors left to aid the Earth Kingdom four years later in an effort to end the War. This meant that Sokka was left in charge of the tribe, while Katara handled the cleaning and cooking, whilst becoming the mother figure that the Southern Water Tribe had lost.
Katara inherited her mother's necklace, a betrothal necklace that Kya inherited from Gran Gran. This would become Katara's most treasured possession. The two children developed a deep hatred for the Fire Nation, but it would not be until six years later that Katara would discover the reason for the raid or settle the score with either the Southern Raiders or her mother's killer, Yon Rha.
This certain raid on the Southern Water Tribe has a very similar outcome as the Air Nomad Genocide. The Fire Nation looks for a certain bender in that nation Aang and Katara respectively, failing to kill or capture that bender and killing others, both grow up to become main characters with strong bending talents and both help end the war.
Appearances and References Edit
- The Puppetmaster (First appearance)