There were once two cousins living together at the same winter-station, and at the time, their wives were both childless. In spring they parted from
each other, saying, "Well, we will see who first gets a child." One traveled away to the south, and established himself for the coming winter. At this
place he lived in prosperity, and his wife bore him a child.
When the boy grew up, the father took a fancy to return to his cousin. He, however, had still no children; and for this reason he caught a young deer,
and trained it up for his amusement. At length it improved so much that it could understand human speech. About that period the cousin returned,
and he first beheld the calf running about outside the house.
The cousins once more lived together, and the boy and the calf became playmates. The calf, however, soon grew stronger, and sometimes knocked
over the boy, at which he wept. For this reason the boy's father went and shot the calf, though he loved his cousin dearly. The childless man got into
a great rage at this, and at once challenged his cousin, and they met, armed with their bows; the childless man shot his cousin on the spot, but was
very much afflicted afterwards, and burst into a flood of tears. The son of the man that had been thus killed removed to a distance, for he could not
endure the sight of his father's cousin.
When he was full-grown and strong he returned to the place, but he had come too late, the cousin was no more. He heard some rumor of an
enormously strong man who used to rob other men of their wives; he challenged him to a wrestling-match, and overcame and killed him, and
returned the women to their own husbands.
|About the Children of Two Cousins
An Eskimo Legend
Music: Beneath the Raven Moon by Mary Youngblood
An Eskimo Legend
It is said that Angangujuk's father was very strong. They had no other neighbors, but lived there three of them all alone. One day when the mother
was going to scrape meat from a skin, she let the child play at kayak outside in the passage, near the entrance. And now and again she called to him:
"Angangujuk!" and the child would answer from outside.
And once she called in this way, and called again, for there came no answer. And when no answer came again, she left the skin she was scraping,
and began to search about. But she could not find the child. And now she began to feel greatly afraid, dreading her husband's return. And while she
stood there feeling great fear of her husband, he came out from behind a rock, dragging a seal behind him.
Then he came forward and said: "Where is our little son?"
"He vanished away from me this morning, after you had gone, when he was playing kayak-man out in the passage." And when she had said this,
her husband answered: "It is you, wicked old hag, who have killed him. And now I will kill you." To this his wife answered: "Do not kill me yet, but
wait a little, and first seek out one who can ask counsel of the spirits."
And now the husband began eagerly to search for such a one. He came home bringing wizards with him, and bade them try what they could do, and
when they could not find the child, he let them go without giving them so much as a bite of meat.
And seeing that none of them could help him, he now sought for a very clever finder of hidden things, and meeting such a one at last, he took him
home. Then he fastened a stick to his face, and made him lie down on the bed place on his back.
And now he worked away with him until the spirit came. And when this had happened, the spirit finder declared: "It would seem that spirits have
here found a difficult task. He is up in a place between two great cliffs, and two old inland folk are looking after him."
Then they stopped calling the spirits, and wandered away towards the east. They walked and walked, and at last they sighted a lot of houses. And
when they came nearer, they saw the smoke coming out from all the smoke holes. It was the heat from inside coming out so. And the father looked
in through a window, and saw that they were quarreling about his child, and the child was crying.
"Who is to look after him?" So he heard them saying inside the house; each one eager to have the child. When the father saw this, he was very angry.
And the people inside asked the child: "What would you like to eat?" "No," said the child. "Will you have seal meat?" "No," said the child.
And there was nothing he cared to have. Therefore they asked him at last: "Do you want to go home very much?" Angangujuk answered quickly:
"Yes." and his father was very greatly angered by now. And said to those with him: "Try now to magic them to sleep."
And now the wizard began calling down a magic sleep upon those in the hut, and one by one they sank to sleep and began to snore. And fewer and
fewer remained awake; at last there were only two. But then one of those began to yawn, and at last rolled over and snored.
And now the great finder of hidden things began calling down sleep with all his might over that one remaining. And at last he too began to move
towards the sleeping place. Then he began to yawn a little, and at last he also rolled over.
Now Angangujuk's father went in quickly, and now he caught up his son. But now the child had no clothes on. And looking for them, he saw them
hung up on the drying frame. But the house was so high that they had to poke down the clothes with poles.
At last they came out, and walked and walked and came farther on. And it was now beginning to be light. As soon as they came to the place, they
cut the moorings of the umiak, and hastily made all ready, and rowed out to the farthest islands. They had just moved away from land when they
saw a number of people opposite the house.
But when the inland folk saw they had already moved out from the land, they went up to the house and beat it down, beating down roof and walls
and all that there was of it.
After that time, Angangujuk's parents never again took up their dwelling on the mainland.
Here ends this story.
An Eskimo Legend
There were three brothers, the eldest of whom was called Angutisugsuk. They had never lived apart; and all of them were clever hunters, especially
One winter the weather was dreadfully severe, and all the neighbors were in great want. Only the three brothers had enough to spare, and the others
claimed their assistance. It so happened that two old men came to them with that intention; and during their visit the wife of Angutisugsuk
remonstrated, saying that they were having rather too many visitors about the place, at which the old men quickly took offence; and in spring-time,
when Angutisugsuk's family left their winter-quarters, and were away on some long excursion, they visited the place in their kayaks, entered the
empty house, and practiced all manner of sorcery and witchcraft upon the wall adjoining the ledge occupied by Angutisugsuk's wife, in order to
produce discord among the family when they came back from their travels. In autumn they all returned to the old house as usual.
One day Angutisugsuk did not go out "kayaking", but stayed at home to make a wooden plate and spoon. At that time he had got two wives, both of
whom were very clever at needle-work; and he offered to give her who would mend his fur jacket for him the wooden plate and spoon. The first wife
made answer, before the second could put in a word, "I want to have them --I will the jacket;" and she worked very quickly on it. The second wife,
however, who happened to be the best beloved, on her part became envious, and got into a passion.
Perceiving this, the husband struck her, because of her having borne him no children. At this his youngest son began crying; and seeing it, the child's
uncle fell upon the father, who was still ill-treating his second wife. In this fight Angutisugsuk thrust his brother against the door-sill with such force
that his thigh-bone was bruised; and he would have followed up his advantage over him but for the younger brother and some others, who interfered
in the quarrel. Thus it came to pass as the old men had planned when they went and bewitched the empty house in their absence.
After having lamed his brother, Angutisugsuk next day loaded his boat and went off in it, taking a small roofless house for himself which he found a
little north of his former station; and as a substitute for roof-beams he made a shift with his tent poles. His proper wife he left behind, and only took
the second one along with him. Seeing that his brother was now able to stir, he resolved to kill him, and repeatedly returned to dispatch him; but
somehow he always found his younger brother or his nephew by his side, and never succeeded in accomplishing his end. These two watched the sick
man by turns; and only one at a time went out in his kayak.
Angutisugsuk one day encountered his nephew at sea, and resolved to pursue him; but as soon as they came within sight of the house on shore, he left
off and turned back. When the nephew got home, he told them that Angutisugsuk had been persecuting him; and his father (viz., the invalid) said,
"Tomorrow thou must go and ask our neighbors to assist us in getting Angutisugsuk out of the way, because he has gone raving mad; but two or
three men will not suffice, for he is immensely strong himself."
The son went the following morning to several stations, and brought a considerable party of "kayakers" along with him; and the invalid accosted
them, saying, "Let us agree to kill Angutisugsuk. Every day he comes this way intending to take my life; but as soon as he sees anybody staying with
me, he desists and turns back."
All the men prepared to pass the night there, hiding their kayaks behind the house; and early in the morning they saw Angutisugsuk in his kayak
emerging from behind a rocky point close by. As nobody was to be seen, and he did not even observe the kayaks of his brother and nephew, he
supposed them to be off, and made for the shore as fast as possible. An old man among the strangers now drew his hood closer to his head, and
pronounced a magic spell, adding that, if it were likely to succeed, Angutisugsuk as a sure sign would turn the back of his hands downwards, instead
of using the palms in ascending the beach.
Watching him very closely, they noticed that he did as the old man had foretold, and they no longer had any doubt of their success. Having got out
on the beach, he only drew his kayak half-way out of the water, and went straight up to the house as if to enter it at once; but be-thinking himself of
something, turned back to the large boat to get hold of a flensing-knife, and then proceeded to the entry. The men were all reclining on the side-ledge
couches except two, who stood posted at the inner entrance ready to seize him.
When he saw his brother sitting on the main ledge, he addressed him in the following words, saying, "Here is a brave man for thee! I'll show thee the
way to fight! Didst thou really believe I did not intend to kill thee?" Thus speaking, he advanced a step or two, but was soon seized by the two men,
and quickly disarmed. He was at once conducted outside, where all the rest fell upon him; but nobody could manage to overthrow him.
At last, when they had got him hamstrung, he fell; whereat they seized him, and held a council as to which of them should first stab him. At last the
invalid brother was carried out, in order that he might finish him off. They put him down close beside the other, and he said, "Go and fetch me my
spear from under the boat." When he had got it, he lanced his brother several times in the shoulder, saying, "Now let go your hold; if he boasts
himself a man, he will be sure to rise."
He did get up, and went towards his kayak on the beach, but fell down dead before he reached it. Then the surviving brother exclaimed, "Alas! We
have killed him who did well towards us. In the short, dark days, when we were almost starving, he did not mind toiling away for us. I am sorry
indeed; now do kill me also!" He asked his brother, his son, and all the other men; but finding that nobody would do it, he said, "Well, then, go and
fetch his second wife, and kill her at any rate; it was she who began it all." They did so; and the person who slew her admonished the bystanders,
saying, "Now put together all her things, and all her clothes, all her jackets of reindeer-skin, her breeches and boots of seal-skin --get them all
together, and carry them along with her; and mind you close up the burial-place well, and heap plenty of stones on top of it." Later on, when the
invalid recovered, he felt great remorse for his act of violence; but the old magician was quite satisfied that Angutisugsuk should have been killed by
There was once an old man, and he had only one son, and that son was called Anarteq. But he had many daughters.
They were very fond of going out reindeer hunting to the eastward of their own place, in a fjord. And when they came right into the base of the fjord,
Anarteq would let his sisters go up the hillside to drive the reindeer, and when they drove them so, those beasts came out into a big lake, where
Anarteq could row out in his kayak and kill them all.
Thus in a few days they had their umiak filled with meat, and could go home again.
One day when they were out reindeer hunting, as was their custom, and the reindeer had swum out, and Anarteq was striking them down, he saw a
calf, and he caught hold of it by the tail and began to play with it. But suddenly the reindeer heaved up its body above the surface of the water, and
kicked at the kayak so that it turned over. He tried to get up, but could not, because the kayak was full of water. And at last he crawled out of it.
The women looked at him from the shore, but they could not get out to help him, and at last they heard him say:
"Now the salmon are beginning to eat my belly."
And very slowly he went to the bottom.
Now when Anarteq woke again to his senses, he had become a salmon.
But his father was obliged to go back alone, and from that time, having no son, he must go out hunting as if he had been a young man. And he never
again rowed up to those reindeer grounds where they had hunted before.
And now that Anarteq had thus become a salmon, he went with the others, in the spring, when the rivers break up, out into the sea to grow fat.
But his father, greatly wishing to go once more to their old hunting grounds, went there again as chief of a party, after many years had passed. His
daughters rowed for him. And when they came in near to the base of the fjord, he thought of his son, and began to weep. But his son, coming up
from the sea with the other salmon, saw the umiak, and his father in it, weeping. Then he swam to it, and caught hold of the paddle with which his
father steered. His father was greatly frightened at this, and drew his paddle out of the water, and said:
"Anarteq had nearly pulled the paddle from my hand that time."
And for a long while he did not venture to put his paddle in the water again. When he did so at last, he saw that all his daughters were weeping. And
a second time Anarteq swam quickly up to the umiak. Again the father tried to draw in his paddle when the son took hold of it, but this time he could
not move it. But then at last he drew it quite slowly to the surface, in such a way that he drew his son up with it.
And then Anarteq became a man again, and hunted for many years to feed his kin.
An Eskimo Legend
Atarssuaq had many enemies. But his many enemies tried in vain to hurt him, and they could not kill him. Then it happened that his wife bore him a
son. Atarssuaq came back from his hunting one day, and found that he had a son. Then he took that son of his and bore him down to the water and
threw him in. And waited until he began to kick out violently, and then took him up again. And so he did with him every day for long after, while the
child was growing. And thus the boy became a very clever swimmer.
And one day Atarssuaq caught a fjord seal, and took off the skin all in one piece, and dried it like a bladder, and made his son put it on when he went
One day he felt a wish to see how clever the boy had become. And said to him therefore: "Go out now and swim, and I will follow after you."
And the father brought down his kayak and set it in the water, and his son watched him. And then he said: "Now you swim out." And he made his
father follow him out to sea, while he swam more and more under water. As soon as he came to the surface, his father rowed to where he was, but
every time he took his throwing stick to cast a small harpoon, he disappeared.
And when his father thought they had done this long enough, he said: "Now swim back to land, but keep under water as much as you can."
The son dived down, but it was a long time before he came up again. And now his father was greatly afraid. But at last the boy came up, a long way
off. And then he rowed up to where he was, and laid one hand on his head and said:
"clever diver, clever diver, dear little clever one." And then he sniffed.
And a second time he said to him: "Now swim under water a very long way this time."
So he dived down, and his father rowed forward an the time, to come to the place where he should rise, and feeling already afraid. His faced moved
as if he were beginning to cry, and he said: "If only the sharks have not found him!" And he had just begun to cry when his son came up again. And
then they went in to land, and the boy did not dive any more that day.
So clever had he now become.
And one day his father did not come back from his hunting. This was because of his enemies, who had killed him. Evening came, and next morning
there was a kayak from the north. When it came in to the shore, the boy went down and said: "Tomorrow the many brothers will come to kill you
And the kayak turned at once and went back without coming on shore.
Night passed and morning came. And in the morning when the boy awoke, he went to look out, and again, and many times. Once when he came
out he saw many kayaks appearing from the northward. Then he went in and said to his mother: "Now many kayaks are coming, to kill us all."
"then put on your swimming dress," said his mother.
And he did so, and went down to the shore, and did not stop until he was quite close to the water. When the kayaks then saw him, they all rowed
towards him, and said: "He has fallen into the water."
When they came to the place where he had fallen in, they all began looking for him, and while they were doing this, he came up just in front of the
bone shoeing on the nose of one of the kayaks which lay quite away from the rest. When they spied him, each tried to outdo the others, and cried:
"here he is!"
But then he dived down again. And this he continued to do. And in this manner he led all those kayaks out to the open sea, and when they had come
a great way out, they sighted an iceberg which had run aground. When Atarssuaq's son came to this, he climbed up, by sticking his hands into the
ice. And up above were two large pieces.
And when he came close to the iceberg, he heard those in the kayaks saying among themselves: "We can cut steps in the ice, and climb up to him."
And they began cutting steps in the iceberg, and at last the ice pick of the foremost came up over the edge. But now the boy took one of the great
pieces of ice and threw it down upon them as they crawled up, so that it sent them all down again as it fell. And again he heard them say: "It would
be very foolish not to kill him. Let us climb up, and try to reach him this time."
And then they began crawling up one after another. But now the boy began as before, shifting the great piece of ice. And he waited until the head of
the foremost one came up, and then he let it fall.
And this time he also killed all those who had climbed on to the iceberg, after he had so lured them on to follow him.
But the others now turned back and said: "He will kill us all if we do not go."
And now the boy jumped down from the iceberg and swam to the kayaks and began tugging at their paddles, so that they turned over. But the men
righted themselves again with their throwing sticks. And at last he was forced to hold them down himself under water till they drowned. And soon
there were left no more of all those many kayaks, save only one. And when he looked closer, he saw that the man had no weapon but a stick for
killing fish. And he rowed weeping in towards land, that man with no weapon but a stick. Then the boy pulled the paddle away from him, and he
cried very much at that. Then he began paddling with his hands. But the boy gripped his hands from below, and the man began crying furiously,
and dared no longer put his hands in the water at all. And weeping very greatly he said: "It is ill for me that ever I came out on this errand, for it is
plain that I am to be killed."
The boy looked at him a little. And then said: "You I will not kill. You may go home again." And he gave him back his paddle, and said to him as he
was rowing away: "Tell those of your place never to come out again thinking to kill us. For if they do not one of them will return alive."
Then Atarssuaq's son went home. And for some time he waited, thinking that more enemies might come. But none ever came against them after that
|Atdlarneq, The Great Glutton
An Eskimo Legend
This is told of Atdlarneq: that he was a strong man, and if he rowed but a little way out in his kayak, he caught a seal. On no day did he fail to make
a catch, and he was never content with only one.
But one day when he should have been out hunting seal, he only paddled along close to the shore, making towards the south. On the way he sighted a
cape, and made towards it; and when he could see the sunny side, he spied a little house, quite near.
He thought: "I must wait until some one comes out."
And while he lay there, with his paddle touching the shore, a woman came out; she had a yellow band round her hair, and yellow seams to all her
Now he would have gone on shore, but he thought: "I had better wait until another one comes out." And as he thought this, there came another
woman out of the house. And like the first, she also had a yellow hair band, and yellow seams to all her clothes.
And he did not go on shore, but thought again: "I can wait for just one more."
And truly enough, there came yet another one, quite like the others. And like them also, she bore a dish in her hand. And now at last he went on shore
and hauled up his kayak. He went into the house, and they all received him very kindly. And they brought great quantities of food and set before him.
At last the evening came. And now those three women began to go outside again and again. And at last Atdlarneq asked: "Why do you keep going
out like that?" When he asked them this, all answered at once: "It is because we now expect our dear master home."
When he heard this, he was afraid, and hid himself behind the skin hangings. And he had hardly crawled in there when that master came home;
Atdlarneq looked through a little hole, and saw him.
And his cheeks were made of copper. He had but just sat down, when he began to sniff, and said: "Hum! There is a smell of people here." And now
Atdlarneq crawled out, seeing that the other had already smelt him. He had hardly shown himself, when the other asked very eagerly: "Has he had
nothing to eat yet?"
"No, he has not yet eaten." "Then bring food at once." And then they brought in a sack full of fish, and a big piece of blubber from the half of a black
seal. And then the man said violently: "You are to eat this all up, and if you do not eat it all up, I will thrash you with my copper cheeks!"
And now, Atdlarneq began eagerly chewing blubber with his fish; he chewed and chewed, and at last he had eaten it all up. Then he went to the water
bucket, and lifted it to his mouth and drank, and drank it all to the last drop.
Hardly had he done this when the man said: "And now the frozen meat."
And they brought in the half of a black seal. And Atdlarneq ate and ate until there was no more left, save a very little piece. When the man saw there
was some not eaten, he cried out violently again: "Give him some more to eat."
And when Atdlarneq had eaten again for a while, he did not wish to eat more. But then they brought in a whole black seal. And the man set that also
before him, and cried: "Eat that up too."
And so Atdlarneq was forced to stuff himself mightily once more. He ate and ate, and at last he had eaten it all up. And again he emptied the water
After all that he felt very well indeed, and seemed hardly to have eaten until now. But that was because he had swallowed a little stalk of grass before
So Atdlarneq slept, and next morning he went back home again. But after having thus nearly gorged himself to death, he never went southward
Two widows, having each a son, had chosen their winter quarters at no great distance from one another. Both of them happened to have several
neighbors; but though these principally consisted of rich and prosperous people, they did not think of assisting the poor orphans. Having lost their
supporters, the widows suffered much from want, and they therefore admonished their young sons to be wise and kind to the other children, lest they
should be deprived of the scanty help they now enjoyed. At last, however, the relatives furnished the orphans with kayaks. He who lived furthest
south was named Aterfio, and the other one living to the north was called Sukalassok.
They grew up to be much renowned for their strength and vigor. They always chose their hunting places far off the coast; and even in hard weather
and heavy gales went out, and never came home empty-handed. On their return they always used to give the orphans a plentiful repast, and had
special stories of provisions set apart for orphan children against hard times.
One day Aterfio had gone out hunting beyond the skerries and islands; the wind was northerly and the sky clear. He had already got two seals, and,
expecting to catch some more, he still rowed on, till all of a sudden he heard a noise, and turning round, beheld Sukalassok with raised arm aiming his
harpoon at him. Not being able to make any resistance, he was obliged to await his fate; keeping his eyes on him, he capsized his kayak towards him
so as to make the harpoon only touch the side of it. As soon as he again had risen, the thought flashed through him to revenge himself on Sukalassok;
but he gave up the idea and turned towards home.
On his arrival he did not mention the matter at all; but sometime later, in a gale from the north, the same thing happened over again. He forbore to
take revenge; but this time told those at home that Sukalassok had twice attempted to kill him. But his mother bade him not to take revenge. "Never
mind," she went on; "let him go on as he likes, only thou shun his companionship."
Soon after, however, Aterfio being busy in his hunting grounds, suddenly heard a whizzing sound close by, and presently afterwards was grazed by
an arrow, which fell into the water alongside of him. His wrath was now up, and he could not resist paying him back. In less than no time he leveled
his harpoon at Sukalassok and killed him right off.
At home he reported his deed, and said he would flee to the south, thinking it probable that the relatives of Sukalassok might take part with the slain
and pursue him. But his mother told him he need not fear his new enemies, and he remained at the old place as before. Soon after he married and got
a son, whom he called Akeralik.
One day an old man came to visit them, who reported that the relatives of Sukalassok were ill-minded towards Aterfio; to which he rejoined, "They
are quite welcome to anything; and thou mayst tell them that I myself, my little son, and the rest of the household, are ready to receive them whenever
they like." But from that day they grew suspicious, and not long afterwards a great many strange boats appeared off the coast. At the sight Aterfio
went in, relieved himself of his jacket, went straight down to the beach, and seated himself on a flat stone with his back turned to the sea.
Rowing on, the kayakers deliberated among themselves who should be the first to wound him. Some of them quickly gained upon the rest, and on
coming quite close to him, the foremost took up his harpoon to strike him; although it hit the mark, it did him no harm, but the harpoon broke in three
The next kayakers likewise un-launched their harpoons at him, but had them broken in the same manner without wounding him in the least. They
now held a council, and agreed in landing to try a match with him on shore. Aterfio willingly attended. The strangers stayed the night over; and
early the next morning four stout and powerful men made their way through the entrance; but Aterfio said, "My house is too small, let us fight in the
open air." Having reached the meadow above, one of the strong men instantly rushed in upon Aterfio to try to wrestling-match with him; but Aterfio
only turned to him and thrust him down as easily as if he had been a fox, upon which he soon died.
The foreigners now made a general assault on him, but he shook them off like children, and on the way home he killed the whole of them. After this
Aterfio trained his son to all kinds of daring feats on land as well as at sea; and this Akeralik grew to be a man, and was still stronger and even more
fearless than his father. His hunting-ground was far out at sea, and he hunted seals and white whales alike, and could keep his breath under water as
well as any seal.
One day when they were a long way off the coast, a small-topped cloud rose on the horizon. Aterfio asked his son, "Dost thou see the cloud yonder?
When the mists come up from that side it will not be child's play; let us put back with all speed." They put their seals on the top of their kayaks and
made them fast with the harpoon-lines, and headed for shore. Each of them had captured two seals. Scarcely had they put about, before a heavy gale
came rushing down upon them, turning the sea into one mass of foam, and completely hiding the land.
A roaring noise was now heard, and Aterfio said, "Take care we don't smash together; keep further away from me." At the same time he saw a great
sea topped with foam close upon them, and turning side on, bolted across them; but notwithstanding, they kept their breath and rowed away under
water until they soon afterwards both emerged on the surface. At last his son got a tear in his thick outer jacket; then he spoke to his father, "Now
mind thine own self, I must needs speed on;" and he skimmed the surface like a falcon pursuing his prey, and was lost to sight in less than a moment.
Both safely reached home.
About this time the South Landers happened to hear the fame of the mighty Aterfio and his son Akeralik, who with his kayak matched a falcon in
speed. Among this people of the south there was a strong man named Tajarnek, who greatly longed to have an encounter with Aterfio. One day
Aterfio and all his family remained at home.
The air was clear and the weather fine. They saw a great many boats and kayaks apparently passing by their place; but Aterfio came down to the
water's edge and hailed them, shouting, "Where are ye for? It is late in the evening; ye had better put in and take shelter with us for the night." One of
the men replied, "We have heard of the mighty Aterfio, and have come to offer him a match." Aterfio replied, "He whom ye see is nothing
extraordinary, but his son is a man of great strength;" so saying, he pointed to him as he stood at his side, to let them know of whom he was speaking.
The kayakers stopped short in great amazement, never thinking him to be the person in question. But Aterfio went on, "But here is a first-rate
landing-place, and ye can pass the night here." Accordingly they landed; and after a needful rest, they all resorted to a level spot above the houses.
Tajarnek first seized Aterfio, but was soon thrown over without being hurt, however.
Several times they closed with him, but Aterfio was as staunch as a rock. Akeralik now thought it time for him to interfere; every man he touched was
soon thrown down. At first they turned them over without injuring them further; but at length they slew Tajarnek and all the rest. All the South
Landers, women and children included, were thus put to death. From this time upwards Aterfio roamed all along the coast-side, and father and son
were equally renowned; and they both ended their days without ever having been wounded.
|Atungait, Who Went A-Wandering
An Eskimo Legend
Atungait, that great man, had once, it is said, a fancy to go out on a sledge trip with a strong woman. He took a ribbon seal and had it flayed, and
forbade his wife to scrape the meat side clean, so that the skin might be as thick as possible. And so he had it dried.
When the winter had come, he went out to visit a tribe well known for their eagerness in playing football. He stayed among them for some time, and
watched the games, carefully marking who was strongest among the players. And he saw that there was one among them a woman of small stature,
who yet always contrived to snatch the ball from the others. Therefore he gave her the great thick skin he had brought with him, and told her to knead
it soft. And this she did, though no other woman could have done it. Then he took her on his sledge and drove off on a wandering through the lands
On their way they came to a high and steep rock, rising up from the open water. Atungait sprang up on to that rock and began running up it. So
strong was he that at every step he bored his feet far down into the rock.
When he reached the top, he called to his dogs, and one by one they followed by the way of his footsteps, and reached the top, all of them save one, and
that one died. And after that he hoisted up his sledge first, and then his wife after, and so they drove on their way.
After they had driven for some time, they came to a place of people. And the strange thing about these people was that they were all left-handed. And
then they drove on again and came to some man-eaters; these ate one another, having no other food. But they did not succeed in doing him any harm.
And they drove on again and came to other people; these had all one leg shorter than the other, and had been so from birth. They lay on the ground all
day playing ajangat. And they had a fine ajangat made of copper.
Atungait stayed there some time, and when the time came for him to set out once more, he stole their plaything and took it away with him, having first
destroyed all their sledges.
But the lame ones, being unable to pursue, dealt magically with some rocky ridges, which then rushed over the ice towards the travelers. Atungait
heard something like the rushing of a river, and turning round, perceived those rocks rolling towards him.
"Have you a piece of sole-leather?" he asked his wife. And she had such a piece. She tied it to a string and let it drag behind the sledge. When the stones
reached it, they stopped suddenly, and sank down through the ice. And the two drove on, hearing the cries of the lame ones behind them: "Bring back
our plaything, and give us our copper thing again."
But now Atungait began to long for his home, and not knowing in what part of the land they were in, he told the woman with him to wait, while he
himself flew off through the air. For he was a great wizard.
He soon found his house, and looked in through the window. And there sat his wife, rubbing noses with a strange man. "Huh! You are not afraid of
wearing away your nose, it seems." So he cried. On hearing this, the wife rushed out of the house, and there she met her husband. "You have grown
clever at kissing," he said. "No, I have not kissed any one," she cried. Then Atungait grasped her roughly and killed her, because she had lied.
The strange man also came out now, and Atungait went towards him at once. "You were kissing inside there, I see," he said. "Yes," said the stranger.
And Atungait let him live, because he spoke the truth. And after that he flew back to the strong woman and made her his wife.
An Eskimo Legend
Augpilagtok, who was living in the southern part of the country, chanced to hear that Kangek (pron. Kanghek-at the firth of Godthaab) was an
excellent place for seal-hunting. He accordingly started for it; but the autumn set in, and the ground was hard with frost before he arrived; so on
coming across an old deserted house at Ikarisat, not far from Kangek, he decided to stop there, and set about preparing an abode for winter. At first
he had fair hunting; so much was he able to store up, that it might have been thought the seals came to his house of their own accord. Heavy northern
gales were blowing, and the fall of snow was so great that he was forced to take his store of seals into the house, and live entirely upon them.
At last, however, they were finished. The weather was getting calmer, but the sea was still covered with ice. In these circumstances he made himself a
small harpoon for hunting on the ice, but first went out to reconnoiter, and find out the breathing-holes of the seals. The first day he roamed all
around the bay Ameralik without finding one opening in the ice. The next he tried Kapisilik, but also in vain. The third day, having had the same bad
luck at Kangersunek, and having nothing to eat, he set to whetting his knife in the evening.
He had a dog with drooping ears, and his knife was intended for this poor animal. He killed it, and cut a piece from the loin, which he ate raw, skin
and all, only scraping off the hairs; and when the rest had been boiled he again ate with a hearty appetite. The following day he remained in the house.
On the next he climbed the highest mountains to survey the neighborhood, and discovered an opening in the ice, not far from his dwelling-place, but it
was then too late to start. The following morning he set off, carrying his kayak on his head as far as the water's edge. Having rowed for some time
along the margin of the ice, he unexpectedly detected a number of huts; and the beach was also red with blood from sea-animals which had been killed.
He pulled away; and on arriving had a friendly welcome from the inmates, who asked him to their huts. This place was that Kangek which, for want
of better knowledge of the locality, he had not been able to reach before the winter overtook him. In ascending the beach he saw the frozen entrails of
some auks thrown out upon the dunghill, and not until he had swallowed some of these could they get him to go inside, where he soon got a proper
meal, and had his kayak filled with stores for his departure. A short time after this he removed with all his household to Kangek.
Every day he alternately went out sea-hunting and spearing birds; and during this period his little son was provided with a kayak of his own. When
auk-hunting his father told him, "When thou goest out for auks and I am not with thee, thou needest not look so much for my kayak, but be watchful
of the others; there are those among them whom it would be no joke to disturb while they are busy at their hunt."
One day, however, when they had gone out together after birds, Augpilagtok had got to a little distance from his son. Suddenly he heard angry voices,
and turning round saw the small kayak surrounded by the other men. Augpilagtok, who at once suspected something wrong, quickly produces his
amulet from out the edging of his jacket, and hiding it inside his mouth rowed on as fast as possible. Having reached them he tossed up the amulet,
saying, "Whomsoever!" at which one was instantly overturned, then a second, then a third, and so on, till all were drowned excepting himself and his
son, who returned home together. Not feeling secure in this place any longer, they removed farther north to Antangmik in the spring. During their
stay there the father recommended the son to exert himself to grow a match for his enemies, from whom they might expect an assault some day or
The son soon became a first-rate "kayaker", and chased the sea-animals at the remotest places. On his excursions he was ofter accompanied by the
middlemost of several brothers living at the same settlement. One day when he thought himself quite alone, he was surprised to heat a sound like that
of an approaching kayak, and turning round he saw with some amazement his usual companion deliberately aiming at him with his harpoon. He
narrowly escaped by overturning his kayak; and when he rose again the other said it was only in fun, although it had been an attempt on his life in
At home he told his father of this occurrence, but he advised him to take no notice of it, lest he should stir up more foes for himself. The next day the
same thing happened, and he barely escaped. The third time he resolved to revenge himself, and killed his antagonist.
After the deed he returned home, having first put the seal on his kayak but turned tail foremost. By this sign his father at once knew what had
happened; but the brothers of the deceased, who were standing outside the house-door, thought he had placed it the wrong way to ease the kayak while
rowing against the wind. Augpilagtok's son on landing said, "I have put it thus because it was the next one after a man; he thrice attempted my life,
and was in the act of killing me; if ye are longing for him ye may go and look for him." At this news they all began to cry, and entered the house, to
observe the usual mourning ceremonies. After this the youth became cautious, and never started except when the weather was too bad for the others to
Once in the spring he was invited with his father to visit the brothers. Augpilagtok said to his son, "We may as well make a bold entrance, and I will go
first, and take a good leap across the doorway, right to the entrance of the room." They thus entered, and saw all the brothers stretched out at full
length on the ledge, only their feet visible on its outer edge (a sign of wrath). They were treated to some frozen liver in an oblong dish; but when they
had got only half through with it, the frozen roof fell in and covered the dish with turf-dust. The eldest brother now said, "When the roof falls down
like this, it only can be by sorcery. The Southlanders are rather deep, and know a thing or two; we had better leave them alone." Augpilagtok now
said to his son, "Slip off thy clothes;" and taking a knife cut up his belly. But when the entrails began to fall out, he merely drew his hand across the cut,
and instantly it healed. Some time after they once more repaired to the south.
An Eskimo Legend
In the direction of the north wind live the manabai'wok (giants), of whom we have heard our old people tell. The manabai'wok are our friends, but we
do not see them anymore. They are great hunters and fishermen, and whenever they are out wit their torches to spear fish we know it, because then the
sky is brighter over the place where they are.
An Eskimo Legend
It is said that his grandfather, being likewise called Avatarsuak, was a wise man. It was he who took charge of his younger namesake, whose own
father had been early called away from home. The grandfather admonished him not to harm the meanest dog, and never to be uncivil towards old
people, not even on being reproved by them. When he came to possess a kayak of his own he remarked that his grandfather, when pushing him off the
beach, was always heard to pronounce some strange words, at the same time uncovering his head by pulling the hood back behind the ears. But though
the youth listened carefully, he could not make out the meaning of the words.
About the time when he first commenced seal-catching his grandfather died, and being left alone he took up his winter quarters at a place where the
South-landers had to pass by when on their trading excursions to the European settlement at Pamiut (Fredrikshaab).
At length two "kayakers" on their voyage to this place passed by his residence, whom he expected for ever so long to see return, but in vain. At length he
learned from the south that both were missing, and at the same time that he was suspected of having killed them. Some time after, being in want of a
skin for a hunting-bladder, he went off in search of a firth-seal.
It was fine weather, and so calm that the breathing of the larger seals was plainly audible. As for the small firth-seals, however, he saw none, and was
getting farther and farther into the bay. Suddenly something emerged from the water, coming up close behind him, and beating the top of his kayak,
and lo! It was nothing less than a tupilak (monster made by sorcery).
It accosted him, saying, "How lucky I met thee thus alone, as I am longing for some entrails!" Stupefied with awe, he felt the creature creeping up on top
of the kayak behind him, constantly repeating, "I shall soon make a feast on thy entrails;" at the same time pressing down the stern of the kayak so deep
as to make the prow rise in the air. Never before had he, who was wont to carry spotted seals, had such a weight on board.
Feeling his strength giving way, and knowing nothing better, he tried to capsize his kayak to the left, but was greatly perplexed to find his oar striking
against a hard substance below, though out in deep water. At this he got up; but in attempting to turn his kayak to the right, he again hit something
hard, on which he slowly righted himself, and rowed away, at the same time perceiving that he was regaining his strength. But though he pulled
homewards with all his strength, he found it impossible to make his kayak go straight. It kept turning round, carrying him towards uninhabited places.
The tupilak now cried, "Thou hateful creature, I see I have made a mistake, and climbed up to one of uncommon kind" (viz., a man endowed with a
certain degree of angakok power); and he noticed it struggling hard to get down, but without being able to detach itself. Thus he went on pulling away
to the sunny side of the firth.
When they were quite close to the beach, the tupilak said, "I see I shall not get through with thee, and I think I shall be made thy prize." Just then the man
on looking round discovered a boat occupied by women, who had been farther up the firth getting angmagsat. He called out to them, "I have got
something on my kayak that is not a seal; put ashore yonder and come round this way quickly." When they had done as he told them, he went on
saying, "Don't attack it in front, as it might be dangerous to you." The foremost among them on seeing the beast fled in terror.
The "kayaker" again began to lose strength, but at length his repeated calls caused the women to come back, bringing with them oars, intending to use
them as levers, the beast sticking fast, as if glued to the kayak. At length it gave way, and a cracking noise was heard, whereupon he was able to get out
and look at the monster, which proved to be the size of a large firth-seal.
Turning to the oldest of the women he said, "I do not care to touch it; ye cut it up; I shall repay you hereafter." In expectation of the reward she at once
fell to and cut open the tupilak, which she found stuffed with all kinds of bones, such as of birds, walruses, and seals. They had it entirely destroyed by
sinking part of it in the sea, and hiding the rest of it in some old tombs. This done, he prepared to row home, but first said to the women, "Thanks to you
and your roaming this about, without which I wonder how I had fared. I will take care to repay you; I am not likely to forget you." At home he told of
his adventure, and all now felt sure that it must have been the tupilak which had formerly killed the two traders. After this all travelers were
unmolested, and the women were well paid by Avatarsuak.
Some time now elapsed without anything remarkable happening. Towards spring, however, he found himself in want of several necessaries, such as
lead, powder, and tobacco, and set out for the European settlement at Pamiut. Having finished his business there, and rested during the night, he
turned homewards, rather uneasy about a quantity of drift-ice which had accumulated at the mouth of a firth he had to cross. Before he reached the
spot, the land wind set in, and came storming down upon him, and the sky looked black and threatening.
Still he tried to cross the firth, winding his way through the small passages between the broken ice. At length, however, he found himself almost entirely
stopped, and at the same time saw a large iceberg drifting down upon him. He tried to escape, but presently heard the roar of its calving (breaking)
right alongside him, and pressing him deep under the waters. However, he rose on the other side of the broken piece, and again sped along, but on the
shady side of the firth he was once more overturned by a much larger iceberg, and this time he quite lost his senses. How long he was in this state of
stupor is not known; but on reviving he noticed the strings of his kayak-jacket rattling about, and smiting his back with the quick motion, while he was
pushed on towards the land beneath the waves. He had no kayak, but found himself sitting down, the loose bottom skin of his kayak fastened round
him, and having his kayak-stick for an oar, and with one leg somewhat bent. In front he saw some one in a large hood rushing on and cleaving the
waters for him, and behind he heard some one talking, but without being able to make out the words.
These companions proved to be his grandparents protecting their grandson. When they came nearer to the islets he felt exceedingly thirst; and
presently discovering an iceberg with a fine spring flowing from it he wanted to go and quench his thirst; but at that moment he heard a warning voice
behind him saying: "Dear grandson, do not drink of the fountain designed for those perishing at sea; if thou drinkest thou wilt never return." At length
he was carried far towards the head of the firth, and saw light from the windows of a very large house. Presently a woman in a white jacket came out
of the doorway, then another, and at last a man in a reindeer cloak, followed by others, all being dogs in shape of men, and running down on the beach
When he entered the house there were people sitting together at its southern end, keeping watch over a dying brother. Having got inside he fell down
beside the first lamp, but still could hear one of the men say, "An anghiniartok has come among us;" at that instant, on being handled by them, and
touched upon his bare skin, he lost all consciousness, but soon after revived, hearing a sweet tune of a song from his childhood. At the very moment he
revived the sick man breathed his last. The people of the house put a new skin underneath him, and let him remain perfectly quiet in his own clothes for
five succeeding days, after which he began to stir about a little, and long to get home, but he had no kayak.
One day, however, a woman went down along the beach to gather the red sea-weed, and returned saying, "Only fancy! I have found a complete kayak
drifted ashore to us." When they had gathered on the beach, and duly inspected it, they made it out to be the kayak of their anghiniartok, in perfect
order, and lying just above high-water mark, and well closed by the half-jacket. On opening this they also found his goods, not a single implement
missing. The next day he returned; and from that time upwards he became still more of a wise man, and no witchcraft could ever work upon him.
|Being Still At Night
An Eskimo Legend
Somewhere in the village, there was a room full of children who never ceased to make a ruckus as night fell, Grandma Kipo said as she held one of her
grandchildren in her lap. Seated on the floor, the other grandchildren closed in at her feet, straining their ears to hear her tell the same story at the
campsite. All was still outside the tent, the river making its rippling sound about 30-feet away. We were up the river, it was summer, and there was
food gathering to be done.
"All the children were making a lot noise, hollering, running, and the night was near," she said. "It was getting dark outside and it was time to sleep, but
these children didn't mind their parents. They played on."
The parents were on a hunting trip, and Grandma Kipo had to take care of the children, which is what many grandparents did in the old days.
"All of a sudden, the door of the house flew open and a ball of fire hit the walls," she almost whispered in Inupiaq. "All of the children grew frantic and
they all cowered in one corner."
The children moved closer at her feet, all wanting to be held. "The ball of fire bounced from one corner to another, and the children cried out and they
hugged each other because they were scared," she went on.
"That ball of fire broke through the door because the children didn't listen to their parents when they were told it was time to go to sleep."
The children took their rightful places on the floor of the tent, and remained silent until they fell fast asleep.
|Creation, An Inuit Tale
An Eskimo Legend
It is said that Raven made the world. He is a man with a raven's beak. When the waters forced the ground up from the deep Raven stabbed it with his
beak and fixed it into place. This first land was just big enough for the house that was on it.
There were three people in the house. This was a family with a man, his wife and their little son Raven who had fixed the land. The father had a bladder
hanging over his bed. After much pleading by Raven the father allowed the boy to play with it.
While playing Raven damaged the bladder and light appeared. The father not wanting to have light always shining, took the bladder from the boy
before he could damage it further. And that is how day and night started over the land.
|Crow Brings Daylight
An Eskimo Legend
A long time ago when the world was first born, it was always dark in the north where the Inuit people lived. They thought it was dark all over the world
until an old crow told them about daylight and how he had seen it on his long journeys. The more they heard about daylight, the more the people wanted
"we could hunt further and for longer," they said. "We could see the polar bears coming and run before they attack us." The people begged the crow to go
and bring them daylight, but he didn't want to. "It's a long way and I'm too old to fly that far," he said. But the people begged until he finally agreed to
He flapped his wings and launched into the dark sky, towards the east. He flew for a long time until his wings were tired. He was about to turn back
when he saw the dim glow of daylight in the distance. "At last, there is daylight," said the tired crow. As he flew towards the dim light it became brighter
and brighter until the whole sky was bright and he could see for miles. The exhausted bird landed in a tree near a village, wanting to rest. It was very
A daughter of the chief came to the nearby river. As she dipped her bucket in the icy water, Crow turned himself into a speck of dust and drifted down
onto her fur cloak. When she walked back to her father's snow lodge, she carried him with her. Inside the snow lodge it was warm and bright. The girl
took off her cloak and the speck of dust drifted towards the chief's grandson, who was playing on the lodge floor. It floated into the child's ear and he
started to cry.
"What's wrong? Why are you crying?" asked the chief, who was sitting at the fire. "Tell him you want to play with a ball of daylight," whispered the
dust. The chief wanted his favorite grandson to be happy, and told his daughter to fetch the box of daylight balls. When she opened it for him, he took out
a small ball wrapped a string around it and gave it to his grandson. The speck of dust scratched the child's ear again, making him cry.
"What's wrong, child?" asked the chief. "Tell him you want to play outside," whispered Crow. The child did so, and the chief and his daughter took him
out into the snow. As soon as they left the snow lodge, the speck of dust turned back into Crow again. He put out his claws, grasped the string on the ball
of daylight and flew into the sky, heading west. Finally he reached the land of the Inuit again and when he let go of the string, the ball dropped to the
ground and shattered into tiny pieces. Light went into every home and the darkness left the sky.
All the people came from their houses. "We can see for miles! Look how blue the sky is, and the mountains in the distance! We couldn't see them before."
They thanked Crow for bringing daylight to their land. He shook his beak. "I could only carry one small ball of daylight, and it'll need to gain its
strength from time to time. So you'll only have daylight for half the year." The people said, "But we're happy to have daylight for half the year! Before
you brought the ball to us it was dark all the time!"
And so that is why, in the land of the Inuit in the far north, it is dark for one half of the year and light the other. The people never forgot it was Crow who
brought them the gift of daylight and they take care never to hurt him -in case he decides to take it back.
|Eskimo Myth of the Origin of Sun, Moon and Stars
An Eskimo Legend
At a time when darkness covered the Earth, a girl was nightly visited by someone whose identity she could not discover. She was determined to find out
who it could be. She mixed some soot with oil and painted her breast with it. The next time she discovered, to her horror, that her brother had a black
circle of soot around his mouth. She upbraided him and he denied it. The father and mother were very angry and scolded the pair so severely that the son
fled from their presence. The daughter seized a brand from the fire and pursued him. He ran to the sky to avoid her, but she flew after him. The man
changed into the moon and the girl bore the torch and became the sun. The sparks that flew from the brand became the stars. The sun is constantly
pursuing the moon, which keeps in the darkness to avoid being discovered.
|Eskimo Story of Owl and Raven
An Eskimo Legend
Owl and Raven were close friends. One day Raven made a new dress, dappled black and white, for Owl. Owl, in return, made for Raven a pair of
Whale-bone boots and then began to make for her a white dress. When Owl wanted to fit the dress, Raven hopped about and would not sit still. Owl
became very angry and said, "If I fly over you with a blubber lamp, don't jump." Raven continued to hop about. At last Owl became very angry and
emptied the blubber lamp over the new white dress. Raven cried, "Qaq! Qaq!" Ever since that day Raven has been black all over.
|Eskimo Story of the Northern Lights
An Eskimo Legend
Auroras -or Northern Lights -are believed to be the torches held in the hands of Spirits seeking the souls of those who have just died, to lead them over the
abyss terminating the edge of the world. A narrow pathway leads across it to the land of brightness and plenty, where disease and pain are no more, and
where food of all kinds is already in abundance. To this place none but the dead and the Raven can go. When the Spirits wish to communicate with the
people of the Earth, they make a whistling noise, and the Earth people answer only in a whispering tone. The Eskimo say that they are able to call the
Aurora and converse with it. They send messages to the dead through these Spirits.
|How Big the World Is
An Eskimo Legend
Two couples lived together. One day, the two men fell to talking. "The world is big," said the first.
"How big?" said the second.
"Let's find out," answered the first.
So they took their sleds and set off in opposite directions. Their wives cried at parting from each other, but each accompanied her husband, running beside
Year after year they traveled. The wives had babies, and the babies grew up. Then they had children, and so on, until there were two whole tribes
traveling across the ice.
The original couples grew old and frail. The men could no longer drive their sleds; the women could no longer keep up the pace beside them. But still they
At last, each of them saw movement in the far distance. They kept on going, and, finally, they met, back where they had started.
"The world is big," said the first man.
"Even bigger than we thought," answered the second.
And then they died.
|How Fox Saved the People
An Eskimo Legend
Once upon a time, in a camp neat Great Slave Lake, there were no caribou to kill. For days and days the families went without food. Everyone was very
hungry and weak.
Each day a raven landed in the camp. He would wander from tent to tent looking at the hungry people.
Whenever he came to the camp, he appeared cheerful. The people were puzzled why the raven looked so happy.
"Raven, do you have lots of food?" the people asked. "We cannot help noticing your happy face." The raven replied, "I'm having the same problem as you."
All this time the raven was thinking about what a good meal he'd have when some of the people died.
The people still wanted to know why the raven always looked so happy. They decided to follow him to see where he went. His footprints led them into the
forest. They followed the tracks until suddenly they came to an end. The men looked everywhere for more signs of the raven. Suddenly they noticed a
quiver hanging on a branch of a tree. On the quiver were pieces of frozen fat.
"No wonder the raven is so cheerful, he has lots of food. He lied to us. There's probably more food near-by," the people said. They decided there must be a
herd of caribou a short distance away.
While the people were talking, a man named Make-Bone said he would follow the raven the next time he left their camp. So everyone returned home, to
wait for the raven to appear. The raven visited the camp again the next day, not knowing about the plan the people had decided upon. As usual, he entered
each tent looking for a possible meal.
Finally he decided to leave. Already Make-Bone had climbed an old spruce tree to watch the raven. When the raven flew away, Make-Bone tried to follow
him with his eyes. However, he was flying out of sight. Since Make-Bone was worried he might lose the raven, he wiped his forehead with ashes. This
helped him to see better.
"I can see him now," cried Make-Bone. "He's landing near a hill. Let's follow him there!" Everyone started walking through the forest to find the raven. It
was a long walk and everyone became very tired. Finally they arrived at the hill where Make-Bone had last seen the raven.. At first they didn't see any
sign of the bird. Then suddenly they noticed a big spruce hut nearby. Quickly the people surrounded the lodging. A wolf, who happened to appear then,
offered to enter the hut to see what was inside.
In there he noticed a bundle of food on a pole rack, which was over a fire. The wolf grasped the heavy bundle and took it to the people. Everyone was
happy to have food to eat. However, they decided to find the raven, so that they would have food for the next meal as well.
"Who will enter the hut to spy on raven?" the crowd asked. This time a fox offered to help. Before he went in, he told the people to put all the children on a
pole rack, where they would be safe. Then the fox told everyone to stand nearby. "Be ready to start spearing," he said. When the people were ready, the fox
entered the hut.
Once inside, he brushed the fire with his bushy tail. This made large clouds of smoke. Quickly he trotted outside with a trail of smoke following him.
Everyone waited patiently.
Soon there was a loud noise which sounded like thunder. Suddenly a large herd of caribou stampeded from the spruce hut. The hunters began spearing the
caribou as they ran past. When most of the caribou had been killed, the people noticed a pair of crumbled wings and bits of feather on the ground. An old
woman started to sob when she saw this.
"Where is the raven? We need the wise raven!" she cried. Then she picked up the pieces of bone and feather and put them beside her when she went to sleep
that night. The next morning she found that the raven was not dead.
The raven felt sorry that he had saved the caribou. He knew that the fox had outwitted him, and had saved the people from starving.
|Moon Rapes His Sister Sun
An Eskimo Legend
In the old days, when everything began, a brother lived with his sister in a large village which had a dance house. At night it was lit with stone lamps
burning seal oil, and once the sister was dancing and singing there when a big wind blew all the lamps out.
While everything was black, a man copulated with her. She struggled against him, but he was too strong, and it was too dark to see who he was.
Thinking he might come again, before she went back there next she blackened the palms of her hands with soot.
Again a great gust of wind blew out all the lamps. Again that man threw her upon her back, got on top of her, and entered her. But this time she smeared
his back with soot.
When the lamps were rekindled, she looked for the one with a sooty back and was enraged to see that it was her brother.
She cried, "Such things are not done! Such things are unheard of!" She was so angry that she took a sharp knife and cut off both her breasts. Flinging them
at her brother, she cried, "As you seem to enjoy me, as you seem to have a taste for my body, eat these!"
She grabbed a brightly burning torch and, maddened and wild-eyed, ran out of the dance house into the dark night.
Her brother snatched up another torch and ran after her, but stumbled and fell down in the snow. The snow put out the flames of his torch so that only its
embers flickered feebly.
Then a big windstorm lifted both the sister and her brother high up into the sky. The girl was turned into the sun, and her brother into the moon. She stays
as far away from him as she can. As long as the moon shines, she hides herself, coming out only after he is gone. If the brother had not let his torch fall into
the snow, the moon would be as bright as the sun.
-----Retold from four nineteenth-century sources.
|Quarrel of the Sun and the Moon
An Eskimo Legend
Long ago, in a cold land far away, there lived a brother and sister who loved each other very much. But they quarreled all the time. They argued about
anything and everything. "It's cold," the sister would say. Her brother would shake his head. "It's not too cold." "Spring will be here soon," the sister
would say happily. "It's spring already, foolish sister," the brother argued. Day in and day out they quarreled. Now we would say they were as different
from each other as night from day.
One day the sister awoke and said to her brother, "We must change." "We must NOT change," he disagreed. But she was determined. "I think we should
transform ourselves into wolves and travel together in harmony as they do."
"Wolves howl," he said. "We must not become wolves."
"We'll become bears," she suggested. "Bears are amiable creatures."
"Bears are blunderers," he said.
"We'll become salmon and swim together down river."
"The water is cold. We should not become salmon," the brother said firmly.
"Beavers, then," she said. "The Great spirit praises the beaver who works with his brothers."
"We do not want to have sharp teeth," said the brother. "we must not become beavers."
"Seals, then," said the sister. "Their great soft eyes are evidence that they are as kind as we should become."
"Slithery creature," the brother shuddered. "We should not become seals." all day they argued. Each time the sister suggested an animal they might become,
the brother scowled and said, "No, no, no!" She recommended caribou and musk oxen, eagles and deer, but he was not convinced. Each Arctic animal the
sister suggested brought argument from her brother.
"All right," she said at last. "I will become the sun and rule the skies!" She snatched a flaming torch of moss from the fire and ran outside. "No, I shall rule
the skies," he cried, and he too grabbed a torch and began to chase her. They ran round and round their igloo, their torches flaming brightly.
The sister turned and ran toward the frozen fields, and all the animals watched in wonder as the brother gave chase after her. Deep into the tundra they ran
-faster and until their torches looked like shooting flames. Suddenly the sister began to rise into the sky. "Oh," she cried as she rose, and gazed down at the
land to see that her brother, too, had begun to rise.
"We're moving to the sky," she called, "and I will rule," and with that she reached and put out her brother's torch with the touch of her cold hand. Higher
and higher they flew in their chase. "I put out your light because you need no light. You will not rule the sky," the sister called.
"I will," he argued, but his torch, darkened now, grew silvery in the chilled air. As they rose, the sister held her golden torch and her brother raised his silver
flame. Higher and higher they drifted, still arguing until at last they were so high that down below the people and all the village igloos looked like toys
dotting the cold, snowy land.
"I will warm the land for our people," the sister said, and her brother looked and felt a pang of longing for the people and the land he loved. "I have no
warmth," he said. "But I will offer light when you are resting."
"that is what we shall do," the sister agreed, for they both loved their people and the land, and they knew they must now share the sky.
And so the brother and the sister became the Sun and the Moon, sharing the task of lighting the world. They still watch over their people, and if you look
closely you'll see their faces looking down on the earth. Brother's light is cold and clear and gazed longingly below. Sister's light is the brightest of smiles,
for she knows their transformation helped the world to grow. Both of them cherish the power and wisdom of their light and the pleasure it brings to all the
people of the Earth.
|Raven's Great Adventure
An Eskimo Legend
The Innu carve strange and beautiful figures, representing people, animals, birds, fish, and supernatural characters, then paint them with bright colors. The
tallest red cedar trees are selected for totem poles, and are used for landmarks as well as illustrating the legends told from generation to generation.
On one of these poles was carved a stunning Raven, but he had no beak!
The Raven in Alaska was no ordinary bird. He had remarkable powers and could change into whatever form he wished. He could change from a bird to a
man, and could not fly and walk, but could swim underwater as fast as any fish.
One day, Raven took the form of a little, bent-over old man to walk through a forest. He wore a long white beard and walked slowly. After a while, Raven
felt hungry. As he thought about this, he came to the edge of the forest near a village on the beach. There, many people were fishing for halibut.
In a flash, Raven thought of a scheme. He dived into the sea and swam to the spot where the fishermen dangled their hooks. Raven gobbled their bait,
swimming from one hook to another. Each time Raven stole bait, the fishermen felt a tug on their lines. When the lines were pulled in, there was neither fish
But Raven worked his trick once too often. When Houskana, an expert fisherman, felt a tug, he jerked his line quickly, hooking something heavy. Raven's
jaw had caught on the hook! While Houskana tugged on his line, Raven pulled in the opposite direction. Then Raven grabbed hold of some rocks at the
bottom of the sea and called, "O rocks, please help me!" But the rocks paid no attention.
Because of the great pain, Raven said to his jaw, "Break off, O jaw, for I am too tired." His jaw obeyed, and it broke off.
Houskana pulled in his line immediately. On his hook was a man's jaw with a long white beard! It looked horrible enough to scare anyone. Houskana and
the other fishermen were very frightened, because they thought the jaw might belong to some evil spirit. They picked up their feet and ran as fast as they
could to the chief's house.
Raven came out of the water and followed the fisherman. Though he was in great pain for lack of his jaw, no one noticed anything wrong because he
covered the lower part of his face with his blanket.
The chief and the people examined the jaw that was hanging on the halibut hook. It was handed from one to another, and finally to Raven who said, "Oh,
this is a wonder to behold!" as he threw back his blanket and replaced his jaw.
Raven performed his magic so quickly that no one had time to see what was happening. As soon as Raven's jaw was firmly in place again, he turned
himself into a bird and flew out through the smoke hole of the chief's house. Only then did the people begin to realize it was the trickster Raven who had
stolen their bait and been hooked on Houskana's fishing line.
On the totem pole, Raven was carved, not as an old man, but as himself without his beak, a reminder of how the old man lost his jaw.