This poem is by Uvavnuk, an Igloolik Inuit and was first written down by Knud Rasmussen early in the twentieth-century. This translation is by Tegoodlejak in James Houstons Canadian Eskimo Art (Ottawa: Information Canada, 1970).
The Great Sea has set me
Set me adrift
And I move as a weed in
The arch of sky
And mightiness of storms
And I am left
Trembling with joy.*
"Lumaaq," Aisa Qupiqrualuk, translated by Eugene Arima. From Eskimo Stories from Povungnituk, Quebec National Museums of Canada Bulletin no 235.
These peopl e- a woman with a son who is blind and also a daughter - these are being come upon by a bear. When the bear peeks through where the window used to be (the heavy ice pane having melted and fallen in), the mother of the blind boy is telling him to shoot it with a bow and arrow. Though blind, he is strong enough so he shoots. And his mother is lying already, saying, since they had a dog called Uuka, "You shot Uuka." She lies, but the blind boy hears the animal hit by his shooting and says, "It sounds as if I shot some beast." His mother still replies, "No, no. You shot Uuka." Since the bear dies afar off, his mother and sister will leave him behind because they want the food all to themselves. When it is almost spring, they leave the blind boy behind in the old snowhouse. His sister will save him by stealing.
Thus the boy is left in the old abandoned snowhouse. Having shot the bear, he is foresaken by his mother because he is blind. But he is fed by his sister. Loving her blind borther, she used to bring him some of her food inside her parka. She was feeding her brother with stolen food without getting found out by her mother. He was now in an old snowhouse without a roof (the spring warmth having melted and collapsed the dome). "My brother, good dog meat, she always said. Wanting to regain his sight, he will have his eyes opened since he wants them opened.
Blind, abandoned by his mother and left behind in the old snowhouse, he is continually seeking to be given sight. So, since he is in an old snowhouse without a roof, he calls to the loon, and the loon comes. The loon wants to lead him to the water, and the boy is led there. When they arrive, the loon says, "Dive down. When you are dying, suffocating and dying, I will bring you up to the surface." And so he dives underwater. When he moves because he is choking from lack of breath, he is brought up. Then the loon says, "What do you see?" The boy says, "I see light." The loon speaks again, "But indeed! Move only when you are suffocating and dying," and he makes him dive for a second time. The boy moves again because he is choking, and when he is brought up, the loon asks again, "What do you see?" The boy answers, "I see land, but not very clearly." The loon says again, "But indeed! Move only when you are dying of suffocation," and he makes him dive a third time. Because he is dying of suffocation, the boy moves once more, and when he is brought up, the loon asks again, "What do you see?" The boy says, "Far away there on the side of that hill I see a lemming going into its hole." This the boy is made to see by the loon and is now back to normal.
Then, since he had regained his sight, he was providing for his mother and sister with game, with tomcods and sculpins. As he was doing so, there were some white whales in close by the land, and he wanted to harpoon them. To brace against the line, he says to his mother, "When I harpoon, we will brace against the line together. You will be behind me, so tie the line around your waist when I harpoon." And when he harpoons, just as he is about to pull back against the line, he lets go of it without pulling at all. Hence his mother, because she is tied around the middle, starts running toward the water and plunges under. As she goes under, she says, "Lumaa, lumaa, lumaa, lumaa, lumaa,"and also "If I could cold squeeze the water out of my skin on top of that hill, lumaa." These sounds were repeated over and over again as she surfaced with the white whales. Here are the words the boy spoke when his mother plunged underwater: "My mothers hood has become a fishs tail, iya iyaa" So he said as his mother dove down.
The Sedna Myth, as collected by Edward M. Weyer
A girl named Avilayoq married a dog who had transformed himself from a speckled stone. She had many offspring, who were Eskimos, white men, and various fantastic creatures. These children were so noisy that the family moved to an island so as not to annoy the girls father, Every day Avilayoq sent her dog-husband to her father for food, when he would put in a pair of boots tied around the dogs neck. One day while her husband was thus absent, a man came to the island and induced the girl to go away with him. She lived for some days in the village of her new husband, who turned out to be a petrel instead of a man. Meanwhile, her father set out alone to find her, and succeeding, started back with her hidden in some skins in a boat. Her second husband pursued in his kayak. Upon overtaking them he asked the young woman to show her hand, as he was very anxious to see at least part of her body. But she did not move. Then he asked her to show her mitten; but she still didnt respond. With that he began to cry and so fell far behind. The father proceeded, with his daughter concealed, through calm water. After a time they saw a strange object overhauling them. Sometimes it looked like a man in a kayak, sometimes like a petrel. It flew up and down, then skimmed over the water. Finally it came up to their boat and circled around it several times, then disappeared again. Suddenly ripples appeared, the waters began to rise, and in a short time, a gale was raging. The boat was quite a distance from shore. The old man, fearing that they might be drowned, and dreading his son-in-laws revenge, threw his daughter overboard. She held on to the gumwales; but her father took his hatchet and chopped off the first joints of her fingers. When they fell into the water they were transformed into whales, the nails becoming the whalebone. Still she clung to the boat. Again, he swung the hatchet and he chopped off the last joints of her fingers, which became seals. Now she clung to the boat wit only the stumps of her hands; and her father finally wielded his steering oar and knocked out her left eye. Whereupon she fell backward into the sea, and he paddled ashore. Then he filled with stones the boots in which the first husband, the dog, had been accustomed to carry meat to his family. The dog started to swim across, but when he was half way the heavy stones dragged him down and he was drowned. The father also became a victim of the sea. The woman became Sedna, who lives in the lower world, in her house built of stone and whale ribs. She has but one eye, and she cannot walk, but slides along, one leg bent under, the other stretched out. Her father dwells with her in her house and the dog lives at the door.
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