The Inuit are the descendants of what anthropologists call the Thule culture, who emerged from western Alaska around 1000 AD and spread eastwards across the Arctic, displacing the related Dorsets, the last major Paleo-Eskimo culture (in Inuktitut, the Tuniit). Inuit legends speak of the Tuniit as “giants”, although they were sometimes called “dwarfs”, people who were taller and stronger than the Inuit. Researchers believe that the Dorset culture lacked dogs, larger weapons and other technologies that gave the expanding Inuit society an advantage. By 1300, the Inuit had settled in west Greenland, and they moved into east Greenland over the following century.
Inuit (plural; the singular Inuk means “man” or “person”) is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland, Russia and the United States.The Inuit language is grouped under Eskimo-Aleut languages.
The Inuit people live throughout most of the Canadian Arctic and subarctic: in the territory of Nunavut (“our land”); the northern third of Quebec, in an area called Nunavik (“place to live”); the coastal region of Labrador, in an area called Nunatsiavut (“our beautiful land”); in various parts of the Northwest Territories, mainly on the coast of the Arctic Ocean and formerly in the Yukon. Collectively these areas are known as Inuit Nunangat. In the US, Alaskan Inupiat live on the North Slope of Alaska and the Seward Peninsula. Greenland’s Kalaallit are citizens of Denmark. The Yupik live in both Alaska and the Russian Far East.
In Alaska, the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat, while Inuit is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat (which technically is Inuit). No universal replacement term for Eskimo, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, is accepted across the geographical area inhabited by the Inuit and Yupik peoples. In Canada and Greenland, the term Eskimo has fallen out of favour, as it is considered pejorative by the natives and has been replaced by the term Inuit. In Canada, the Constitution Act of 1982, sections 25 and 35 recognised the Inuit as a distinctive group of Canadian aboriginals, who are neither First Nations nor Métis.
“Old Inuit Song”
“I think over again
My small adventures
Those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach
And yet there is only one great thing
To live and see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.”
The ancient tales, called okalugtuat (plural of okalugtuak), and the more recent ones, called okalualârutit (plural of okalualârut). The first kind may be more or less considered the property of the whole nation, at least of the greater part of its tribes; while the tales included under the second are, on the other hand, limited to certain parts of the country, or even to certain people related to each other, thus presenting the character of family records. The Inuit are, more than any other nation, spread over a wide extent of country, only occupied by themselves, and thus are little acted upon by alien settlers. The inhabitants of their extreme western bounds, with their native means of transport, would have to traverse somewhere about five thousand miles before reaching the dwellings of their countrymen in the farthest east, and in this journey would meet only with scanty little bands of their own tribes settled here and there, generally consisting of less than a hundred souls. Their little hamlets are severed from each other by desolate tracts of ten to twenty—nay, even hundreds of miles.
Though there is every probability that the various tribes of these vast regions have originated from one common home, their present intercourse is very limited; and it may without exaggeration be asserted that the inhabitants of Greenland and Labrador, and those of the shores of Behring Strait, cannot in any likelihood have communicated with each other for a thousand years or more, nor have they any idea of their mutual existence. In accordance with this isolation, a closer study of the traditions will also show how wide a space of time must be supposed to exist between the origin of the two classes of tales. The greater part of the ancient tales probably date from a far remoter period than one thousand years; the invention of the more recent traditions, on the other hand, must be supposed in most cases not even to go back so far as two hundred years, and they chiefly comprise events concerning families living in the very district where they are told.
It may, however, be taken for granted, that in days of yore such new tales may have appeared at any time; but after a short existence they were gradually forgotten, giving place to others, and so on, continuously alternating during the lapse of ages: while the ancient tales have been preserved unchanged, like some precious heirlooms which it would have been sacrilege to have touched. The definition we have here tried to give of the two classes is, however, by no means exhaustive, nor without exceptions. In our collection will be found stories which undoubtedly must have originated between the two periods described, and therefore should form an intermediate or exceptional class, if the division were to be complete and fully carried out. There are, moreover, many others which we are at a loss how to classify.
Mountain at Muskrat Falls
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 only 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 nor bait.
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 his 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 fishermen. 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 the old man, but as himself without his beak, a reminder of how the old man lost his jaw.
Sedna, the Sea Spirit, was once a mortal girl, living with her father by the seashore. She was very beautiful and many men came to court her, bringing gifts to win her favour. But Sedna was very proud and haughty and would have none of them. Always she found some fault. This one was too short or that one had bad teeth. She spurned their gifts and turned her back on them, refusing even to speak.
This behaviour infuriated her father ‘Why can you nor take a husband like other girls?’ he asked impatiently. ‘Now that I am old, I need a son-in~law to help me with hunting.’ Sedna only shrugged carelessly and fumed away, brushing her long dark hair and humming.
Finally, when yet another young man had gone away, hurt and saddened by Sedna’s cruelty, her father lost his temper. ‘The very next man who comes here,’ he stormed, ‘you shall marry! Next time I will make you! You will not refuse again!’ He did not have long to wait. The very next day a strange kayak appeared at the waters edge. In it sat a tall young man dressed in rich, dark furs . A heavy hood covered his head and his face was half-hidden by his wooden snow-goggles. Sedna’s father hurried down to the shore, dragging his struggling, protesting daughter behind him. Even before the stranger had time to disembark, the old man shouted, ‘Do you seek a wife? Here is my daughter Sedna ! She is young and beautiful, and can cook and sew. She will make you an excellent wife.’
The young man smiled. ‘I have heard much of your daughter’s beauty,’ he nodded, ‘and have come with the purpose of making her acquaintance ‘ Turning to Sedna, he went on, ‘I have a large and splendid house in my own country, hung with furs to keep out the elements. If you marry me, you will sleep on soft bearskins and eat only the finest food.’ Sedna looked at the young man sitting tall and straight in his kayak.
‘Well, if I must take a husband, I suppose I must,’ she thought grudgingly. ‘He seems kind and nor too ugly. I could do worse.’ Indeed she had little choice in the matter, for her father’s mind was made up and without more ado he bundled her into the kayak. The young man picked up his paddle and pushed off from the shore.
For many miles they travelled across the ice-cold sea. Sedna, cross and sulky, said nothing, nor did the young man seem inclined for conversation. Only the lapping of the water against eke kayak or the occasional cry of a solitary bird disturbed the silence. On and on they went until at last a rocky island loomed out of the mists. Look!’ said the young man. ‘There is my home.’ Sedna was filled with dismay. The island seemed a bleak and inhospitable place. Nothing grew on its stony shores and sea birds swooped about the cliffs, filling the air with their wild, mournful cries.
The young man brought the kayak into the shallows and leaped ashore. He threw back his hood and pulled off his goggles. Sedna looked at him aghast. He was very ugly, short and squat, with tiny, red-rimmed eyes. He had seemed tall before only because of the high seat of his kayak. He saw Sedna’s horrified face and burst into harsh, cackling laughter.
‘Come!’ he cried, roughly seizing her arm. ‘Come and see my fine house–your new home!’
But it was not at all fine. It was nothing but a heap of twigs and driftwood perched on a high rocky ledge. There were no soft furs as the young man had promised, only a few miserable fish skins thrown on the rough floor. Sedna looked at her new husband and, before her eyes, he turned into a small, soot-black bird. Too late she realized the truth. This was no young man whom she had married, but a storm petrel in human disguise.
Sedna regretted bitterly the foolish pride which had brought her to this terrible place. The cliff-top nest was cold and uncomfortable and there was only fish to eat, but there was no way of escape and so for a long time Sedna lived with the storm petrel on the rocky island. During the day he left the nest in his bird form and flew over the sea in search of food. When he returned in the evening he became a man once more.
Meanwhile, Sedna’s father, repenting his hasty temper, decided to go in search of her and, after many days travel, he too came to the lonely rock where the storm petrel lived. When he saw his daughter’s misery, he was stricken with remorse. ‘Oh my poor child, ‘ he cried, ‘I did not mean you to suffer such a fate. Surely you have been punished enough! Let us return home at once.’
They climbed hastily into his kayak and set off, but, even before the island had faded from view, Sedna, looking back, saw a black speck appear. ‘Father! Father!’ she screamed. ‘My husband is returning! When he finds me gone, he is sure to follow us. What shall we to do?’
The old man pushed her down into the bottom of the kayak and covered her over with skins. Urged on by fear, he paddled as fast as he could and the kayak flew over the waves.
Out of the darkening skies came the storm petrel, swooping low, his wings stiff and outstretched. Although Sedna was hidden under the pile of skins, he knew she was there. He flew round and round the kayak, shrieking wildly. At first the old man paid no heed, but again the bird swooped low, beating at the sea with his wings so that it grew black and angry and great waves began to wash over the kayak. The old man shouted and struck out at him with his paddle, but the bird dodged the blows and, skimming the surface of the water, beat his wings so furiously that the storm raged even more fiercely and the sea became a churning whirlpool, tossing and spinning the kayak like a child’s toy, threatening to engulf it completely.
Fearing for his life, the old man lost his reason and dragged the trembling Sedna from her hiding place. ‘Here is your wife! he cried. ‘Take her for yourself,’ and he hurled her into the sea.
Screaming in terror, Sedna clung to the kayak, but her father, maddened with fear, struck at her hands with his paddle, and the first joints of her fingers, frozen with cold, broke off like icicles and fell into the sea. As they bobbed away, they changed miraculously into seals, diving and twisting in the waves.
Again Sedna clung to the kayak, pleading for her life, but again her father tried to make her release her grasp, this time cutting off the second joints of her fingers. These, too, fell into the sea and became the first walrus. With her bleeding stumps, Sedna made one last despairing attempt to seize hold of the kayak, but her father had no pity and struck off the remaining joints, which took the form of whales and followed the seals and walrus down into the depths of the ocean.
Now Sedna had no more fingers and she sank to the bottom of the sea. The storm petrel circled the kayak, lamenting his lost wife. Then he turned and flew back to his bleak island home.
But Sedna was not drowned. Instead, she became the Spirit of the Sea and Mother of the Sea Beasts. Legend says that she lives still at the bottom of the sea, jealously guarding the creatures which came from her fingers. Because of her father’s cruelty, she has no love for human beings. Their wicked deeds trouble her, affecting her body with sores and infesting her hair like lice. Lacking fingers, she cannot brush her hair and it becomes tangled and matted. In revenge, she calls up storms to prevent men from hunting, or keeps the sea creatures to herself.
At such times shamans must travel to the land below the sea to confess men’s sins and to beg her forgiveness. Only the most powerful, who fear nothing, can undertake this journey for the way is long and dangerous, blocked by great rolling boulders, and evil spirits guard the entrance to the Sea Mother’s sealskin tent. To sooth Sedna’s rage and pain, the shaman must first comb her hair until it hangs clean and smooth once more. Then Sedna may feel more kindly and release the whale, walrus and seal from the great pool below her lamp, so that for a time, until they forget and sin again, people may hunt freely and without fear.
The Inuit are the people of the high arctic. It’s what they call themselves, formerly called by outsiders as Eskimo.
The Naskapi are an Indian nation whose area stretches from northern Quebec, north of the St. Lawrence River, into most of presentday Labrador. They have begun to call themselves once more the Innu.
The Montagnais speak a similar Aboriginal language (with differences in dialects), share an Aboriginal culture with (again with certain differences) and face many similar political concerns as the Innu. Their territory stretches south of the Innu into central Quebec. There are some Montagnais and Innu who feel their differences and separations were imposed upon them by the drawing of a boundary between Quebec and Labrador. Many Montagnais want to *erase* those differences to define their own identities and reject those imposed upon them by outsiders. As a consequence, many Montagnais, including many of those from the village of Betsiamites where the two members of Kashtin hail from, are now beginning to identify themselves as Innu as well.
The Inuit Nation
P.O. Box 119
Sheshatshiu, Nitassinan (Labrador)
Phone: (709) 4978398
via Canada A0P 1M0
Groups involved in solidarity with the Innuit include:
International Campaign for Innuit & Earth (ICIE)
Oakville Comm. Centre for Peace, Ecology & HR
148 Kerr St.
(905) 8495501 (phone/fax)
contact: Stephen Dankowich
Arctic Peoples Alert
Nl-2512 TN Den Haag
tel/fax 0031 704020943
email : email@example.com
contact: Govert de Groot
Gesellschaft Fer Bedrohte Volker
D 37010 Gottingen
[ + 49551499060 ]
[ + 114955158028 (fax)]
Dept. Indigenous Peoples
Support group for Indigenous Peoples
B-9100 Sint Niklaas
tel (32)03 777 55 89
contact: Martina Roels
1115 Emerald. St
London, WC1N 3QL
[ + 44712421441 ]
[ + 44712421771 fax ]
contact: Johnny Mazower
Freedom of the Skies
Lampeter, Dyfed SA48 8Z
[ + 440157045576 (tel)]
[ + 440157045636 (fax)]
contact: Gillian Metcalf
The Aleuts are considered to have advanced medical skills because they have the ability to mummify a body, and they have knowledge of and names for the major internal organs. Mummification, like that in the Egyptian pyramids, was accomplished by using the geothermal conditions found in neighboring volcanic caves and islands — believed to help in the drying process and the preservation of the mummy.
“We were many now we are few!” Is the cry of the Aleut people to themselves. It’s meaning begins before contact with the white man. “We were many”, just as it states, means the Aleut before contact were a large and noble people — not without infractions between themselves. Population was estimated between fifteen and eighteen thousand people at time of contact. Along with white man, came disease, slavery, depletion of the food supply, change from the subsistence economy to a cash economy.
Basically we have seen a steady and systematic genocide of the Aleut culture, language, art, and being since the time of contact. To where the Aleut say. “Now we are few.” Where there are only a few thousand now. With factions of language and culture falling into extinction with each passing day. — like the Eyak.
Disease was, and in many cases still is, the main killer of the Aleut. White man’s diseases brought over by the Russian Promyshleniks seeking plunder and riches killed much of the population within twenty years.
The Aleut was no stranger to the idea of slavery. They themselves would take captives, usually female, to do the hard labor tasks, sometimes keeping them bearfooted to hinder the slave from fleeing. The Russians would take both male and female: the males that were taken would hunt for the seal, sea lion, and otter for their pelts. Soon depleting the food supply. the females were taken to replenish the lack of women in Siberia. Some of these attempts were fruitful and some disastrous.
If the Russians didn’t take captives, in some cases, they killed everyone — by the turn of the 19th century less then 20 percent of the Aleut population had survived the Russian on-slot.
After the food supply had dwindled due to depletion, the Russian influence became ever more important to the Aleut. Without food the Aleut had to barter for the things he needed instead of recycling it from the wild. This changing of economies from a subsistence to a cash economy has yet to be fully mastered by the Alaska Native.
That is why the Aleut cry “We were many now we are few!” Along with the loss of the Aleut, the loss of their laughter, language, and dance is greatly missed too.
Long ago there were two girl cousins who lived in a large tribal village. Those evenings when the moon was out, they liked to go to the beach and play. Claiming the moon as their husband, they spend the night gazing and making love to the man in the moon.
For shelter they had propped up a bidarka (large skin boat), and during the night they changed positions several times, so they could always face the moon. In the morning, upon returning home, their parents always questioned them about their whereabouts. The girls told them how they had watched the moon until it passed from sight. Many of their family heard them tell how much they loved the moon, always wishing they were moons.
One evening, with other young people of their tribe, they amused themselves on the beach. Night came and the others returned to their homes, but the two girls remained. When the moon went away out of their sight, one complained, “Why does the moon hide so suddenly? I like to play with him and enjoy his moonlight.” “I, too,” said the other. It was not yet midnight, and the moon was already behind the clouds.
Up to now they had not noticed how dishevelled their appearance was from playing. They became startled when they heard the voice of a young man as he approached them. “You have been professing your love for me,” he said. “I have observed you and know you love me, therefore, I have come for you. But since my work is very hard, I can only take one of you–the more patient one.”
Each begged to be chosen. He said, “I have decided to take both of you. Now close your eyes and keep them closed.” So he grabbed each by the hair, and the next moment they were rushing through the air. The patience of one wore thin. As she opened her eyes, she felt herself drop down, down, down, leaving her hair behind in his hands. She found herself beside the bidarka where she had left it.
The patient cousin kept her eyes closed the entire time, and in the morning found herself in a comfortable barrabara, the home of the moon. There she lived as the wife of the moon, happy in loving him. Generally he slept during the day, as he worked all night.
Frequently he went away in the morning and returned in the evening. Sometimes he was gone from mid-day until midnight. His irregular schedule puzzled his wife. But he never offered an explanation to her of what he did in his absence.
His silence and indifference piqued the young bride. She waited as long as she could, until one day she said, “You go out every day, every evening, every night, and you never tell me what you do. What kinds of people do you associate with, while I am left behind?”
“I am not with other people, for there are not my kind of people here,” he said. “I have important work to do, and I cannot be with you all the time.”
“If your work is so hard, can you take me with you to help you sometimes?” she asked.
“My work is too hard for you,” he replied. “I brought you up here, because I had no rest when you were down there. You and your lovely cousin were constantly staring at me and teasing me. Now stop your foolishness, you cannot help me. Stay home and be happy for me when I do return.”
“Surely, you don’t expect me to stay home all the time.” She began to weep. “If I cannot go with you, can I go out by myself occasionally?”
“Of course, go anywhere you like, except in the two homes you see yonder. In the corner of each there is a curtain, under which you must never look.” After this warning, he left his barrabara, and that night he looked paler than usual.
Later, she went out for a walk. Although she went far and in different directions, she saw no people. She tried several short trails, and on each saw a man lying face down. It gave her pleasure to kick them to disturb them. Each would turn and look at her with his one bright, sparkling eye and cry out, “Why do that to me? I am working and busy.” She kicked all of them until she tired and ran home.
On her way she saw the two forbidden barrabaras, and she just had to look inside. A curtain hid a corner in the first. She couldn’t resist the desire to look under the curtain. There she beheld a half-moon, a quarter-moon, and a small piece of moon. In the second barrabara, she found a full moon, one almost full, and another more than half-full.
Thinking about the beautiful pieces, she decided it would be such fun and no harm to try on one to see how she would feel. The one almost full pleased her most, so she placed it on one side of her face and there it stuck. She cried, “Ai, Ai, Y-a-h, Ai, Ai, Yah!” She tugged and pulled but the moon would not come off. For fear her husband would soon arrive, she hastened home, threw herself on the bed, and covered that side of her face.
There he found her, complaining that her face pained her. He suspected the real cause and went out to investigate. Upon his return he asked her about the missing moon. “Yes,” she admitted. “I tried it on for fun, and now I cannot take it off.” He laughed and laughed at her. Gently he pulled it off for her.
Seeing his good humour, she told him of her eventful day, especially the sport she had with the one-eyed people scattered about the sky.
“They are stars,” he said reprovingly. “Since of your own free will you put on this moon, you can wear it from now on and help me in my hard work. I will finish my rounds with the full moon, and after that you can start in and finish out the month while I rest.”
To this happy arrangement she consented gladly. Since that time the two have shared the hard work between them–the man in the moon and his lady in the moon.
A terrible misfortune befell the people of a very large tribe. Of all the hunters that left the village, not one came back alive, nor was it known what had happened to them. In that tribe lived a beautiful young girl, who loved and was beloved by a brave hunter. She had joyfully consented to be his wife, but her parents objected.
The disappointed hunter had decided to drown his grief by going with the warriors to hunt. Older men cautioned against his hunting, but the young lover departed with the warriors. A month passed, but he did not return and was given up for lost by his tribe. Not so the young girl, who could not believe him dead. She felt she must go and search for him.
Secretly she made preparations, and one night she stole away quietly, taking her father’s one-hatch kayak and a waterproof elk skin shirt. After some distance from her village, she ceased paddling, closed her eyes, and began singing. After a verse, she opened her eyes. Noticing the kayak drifting with the current, she closed her eyes again and sang some more. At the end of the second verse, she looked again and found the kayak drifting faster than before. Then she closed her eyes and sang for a long time.
When she looked again, the kayak was going so fast that she became alarmed but could not change her course. Her speed increased by the moment, then she heard the mighty roar of waterfalls. Since life without her lover was not worth living, she closed her eyes to await her fate.
Very swiftly the boat rushed forward. The roaring waters became powerful. Her heart nearly stopped beating from fright when she felt herself going down, down, down, then come suddenly to a standstill.
She was not hurt, but could neither get out of the kayak nor move it. The boat was stuck fast. Dawn approached as she lay there, wondering what would become of her and what had happened to her lover. At sunrise, she saw a kayak coming toward her with one man paddling.
The man exclaimed aloud, “Ha! Ha! I have another victim,” as he placed a bow and arrow beside him with a two-edged knife attached to the tip. But as he drew nearer, he put away his weapons, thinking, “That is a woman.” Then he called out, “If you are a woman, speak up, and I will not kill you, for I never kill women.” She assured him that she was a woman, and he came and helped her out of her boat and seated her in his kayak. He paddled off with her.
They reached his own barrabara where he lived alone. She noticed many human heads scattered about. One she recognized as her lover’s. She said nothing, but to herself she pledged vengeance. The man asked her to be his wife, and ordered her to cook deer and seal meat for them to eat. At bedtime, he pointed to a corner for her to sleep, while he slept in an opposite corner. She obeyed without questioning him.
Next morning, he led her to a smaller barrabara and showed her a number of headless bodies. He said, “These I do not eat; but I have three sisters living some distance from here, who eat human flesh only. It is for them I have killed these people. Each day I take one body to a different sister.” He then picked up a corpse and his bow and arrow and walked away.
The young girl followed him to the place where the road forked. One path led to the right, one led to the left, and one led straight ahead. She noticed which one he took, then returned to his barrabara, where she busied herself, removing two posts from one of the walls. She dug out an underground passage for escape.
All of the extra dirt she carried to the sea, then cunningly concealed the passage. Toward evening, she cooked a good supper for him when he returned, eating in silence, then they retired, each to their own corner.
After breakfast next morning, he carried away another corpse. She took the bow and arrow, which he left behind, following him secretly. He took the left fork while she took the middle one. She hurried on, then cut across to the left fork and managed to reach the home of his sister before he arrived, killing her with the bow and arrow.
From there she ran to the homes of the other two sisters, killing them, before running back to the barrabara. He found all three sisters dead and was suspicious.
She was sitting on the barrabara when he returned. “You killed my sisters, now I will kill you,” he cried out angrily, rushing for his bow and arrow. They were not in their usual place and he discovered them in her hands. He begged her to give them to him, promising to do her no harm. At first she refused, but he pleaded and promised until she trusted him and gave them to him.
As soon as they were his again, he shouted, “Now you shall die,” and shot at her. She suddenly dropped through the smoke hole, out of sight, before the arrow could reach her. While he looked for the arrow, she crawled out through the underground passage and perched herself anew on top of the barrabara.
Her disappearance and sudden reappearance was a mystery to him. he shot at her again and again, but she disappeared each time mysteriously. At least, since he could not kill her, he said, “Take this bow and arrow and kill me.”
“I do not want to kill you,” she told him. “But I’m afraid you will kill me someday.”
He swore never to hurt her, and she came down from the roof. Together they ate their supper and retired in the usual manner. But as he was about to fall asleep, she moved closer to him and began talking to him, keeping him awake the entire night.
For five days and five nights she tormented him in this way, giving him no time to sleep. On the sixth day, in spite of all she could do, he fell into a deep, deep sleep. Although she pinched him and pulled at him, she could not arouse him. She brought a block of wood from outside and placed it under his neck. Then, with a knife she had stolen from one of his sisters, she beheaded him.
In his kayak, she put his bow, arrow, and knife, then seated herself and paddled homeward by way of the falls. But there were no falls, as they had existed only through the evil of that man. When he died, the river flowed smoothly and steadily in its own original channel. She found her kayak, which had drifted onto the beach, and she tied it to his and paddled to her home.
Her people learned of her adventures and the evil man. The older men decreed his weapons be burned on the trash pile. Then the people rejoiced in the young girl’s safe return and the safety of their tribe.
There were two men in the old days by the names of Acha-yuongch and Ach-goyan. They lived together, but spoke and looked at each other only when they were compelled to do so. They were curious about anything happening nearby and they usually went to investigate.
One day, as they were sitting in their barrabara around the fire, their backs toward each other, eating shellfish, Ach-goyan pulled out a feather from his hair, threw it in front of him and said, “Acha-yuongch, what shall we do? There is a man living over there on the other side of the village. He hunts every day with his sling.”
Acha-yuongch was silent for a while, then he scratched his ear and said, “I do not know what is the matter with me. There is much whistling in my ear.”
Silence followed for some time, then Ach-goyan pulled out another feather from his hair and threw it up in front of him and said, “Acha-yuongch, what shall we do? There is a man living over there who hunts every day with his sling.”
Acha-yuongch again replied, “There is very much whistling in my ear.” A third time Ach-goyan threw a feather into the air and said, “There is a man living on the other side whose name is Ploch-goyuli. He hunts every day with his plochgo (sling). Let’s go and see him.” So they prepared for the trip, piling their barrabara and all their other possessions on their canoe, including the grave with the remains of their wife.
But on launching, they discovered that the load was too heavy on one side. So they dug up a small hillock and placed it on top to equalize their load. They filled hollow reeds with fresh water and started on their trip. When they arrived on the other shore they saw Ploch-goyuli hunting ducks with his sling. He saw them, too, and knew the nature of their visit, so he threw rocks at them. The first rock hit close to the canoe. Ach-goyan exclaimed, “Ka! Ka! Ka! It nearly hit me.”
The second rock hit closer, and he exclaimed louder, “Ka! Ka! Ka!” Rocks kept coming, and they turned their damaged canoe around and headed homeward, where they replaced their barrabara and all of their things.
A few days later, sitting around the fire in their barrabara, Ach-goyan pulled out a feather from his hair, tossing it in the air and said, “Let’s visit the man on the island who heats a bath and catches codfish every day.”
“My ear is still whistling,” replied Acha-yuongch. After tossing another feather into the air, Ach-goyan said, “Let’s visit the man living on an island in the middle of the sea, who heats his bath and catches codfish every day. His name is Peting-yuwock.”
Again they loaded the canoe with all of their things and started off. They reached the island, beached their canoe, and went to the old man’s barrabara. He cried out, “Where is the man-smell coming from?”
“We came to visit you because we heard you heat your bath and catch codfish every day.”
“The hot bath is ready,” said Peting-yuwock and directed the two inquisitive men to it. While they were bathing, the old man tied together a lot of thin, dried kelp, which he had kept to make clothes. Out of it, he made a long rope and fastened one end of it to the canoe. He then roasted a codfish and gave it to the two men after their bath.
“There is a strong wind blowing. You had better hasten to your barrabara before it becomes too strong,” suggested the old man.
The two men heeded his warning and shoved off into the sea. When they were about halfway across, the old man pulled the rope and brought the two men back to his shore. He came out and called to them, “Why have you come back. I warned you how strong the wind was.”
Again the two men started off, and again were halfway home when the old man pulled on the rope and hauled them back to the beach. “Why are you back here? Get on with you or you will never make it,” he shouted at them against the wind.
The third time when the old man pulled on the rope, it broke, and the canoe upset and the two men were lost with all of their belongings.
The grave of their wife became a beautiful porpoise. Acha-yuongch and Ach-goyan were cast upon the shore, where they became two capes of land, jutting into the sea like two peninsulas.
They had been so inquisitive about everything that they became prominent landmarks, two safe harbours for fishermen and others at sea, forever.