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An Inuit Creation Story

An Inuit Creation Story

This story is about Sedna, the Inuit goddess of the sea.
The Inuit (Eskimos) depend on the sea for food, so no god or goddess is more important to them.

At the beginning of the world there were giants.

They lived on the land and ate the fruits of the land. One year, as the days began to get shorter and colder, a baby girl was born to two of the giants. They named her Sedna.

Day by day, as the sun became weaker and smaller, Sedna grew stronger and bigger. She grew and grew very quickly until, in no time at all, she was huge. Soon she was bigger than her giant parents.

The bigger she got the more she ate and the more she needed to eat, but there were not enough plants on the land to satisfy her hunger. One night, ravenously hungry, she began to gnaw her parents legs.

‘Owww!’ they cried, ‘that’s enough of that.’ With a great struggle they bundled Sedna up in a blanket and carried her to their canoe. It was dark but they paddled out to sea in the light of a hazy moon. When they reached the middle of the ocean, they pushed Sedna overboard into the icy waters.

And that, they thought, was that. They started to paddle back towards the land, shivering for the cold and also for shame at what they had done to their own daughter. Yet before they had gone far, the canoe stopped – no matter how fast they paddled, the canoe would not move forward. To their horror they saw two hands, Sedna’s hands, reaching out of the water to grip the canoe and then to rock it from side to side.

The giants felt the boat shaking. Soon they would be tossed into the ocean they would surely drown, unless they did something quickly.

Simply to save themselves, they pulled out sharp knives and chopped off Sedna’s fingers. One by one the fingers splashed into the sea and, as they sank, they changed into swimming creatures. One became a whale, one a seal, another a walrus, another a salmon. The fingers changed into all the creatures of the seas.

As for Sedna, she drifted through new shoals of fish to the bottom off the ocean. There the fishes built her an underwater tent. Above her, the cold waters formed a crust of ice and sealed Sedna in her wintry, watery world. She still lives there, and whenever the Inuit are short of food, they call on Sedna and she provides it, even in the depths of winter.