Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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p. 116


[Of this tale six different copies have been received. It seems in a very remarkable way to refer to certain historical facts in regard to the intercourse between the Indians and the Eskimo, and is in some measure analogous to the folk-lore of several other nations, ascribing certain great actions, especially such as the defeating of some monstrous and dreadful animal, to one special hero. The text, however, is here given in an abridged form, the story itself not being very interesting.]

IN days of yore it once happened that some people went far into a firth to fish for salmon, and at the time one of the women was carried off by an inlander, and was taken by him to a very remote place. She belonged to the coast people, but afterwards married the man who carried her off, and they begat a son, who was named Akigsiak. In his boyhood two of his father's nephews were his constant playfellows. They often used to box and fight each other, but Akigsiak soon outdid them completely; even in swiftness his friends did not surpass him. As his mother belonged to the coast people, while his father was from the interior of the country, he was smaller of growth; but notwithstanding, he was respected and feared by the other inlanders, and had a great reputation for strength and ability in hunting. Akigsiak used to seek intercourse with the coast people in order to gain information concerning his mother's relatives; and at such a meeting he once told them as follows: "When my father grew older he was incapable of providing for us. One winter we had a great famine, and every day I went out in search of provisions; and meanwhile my father watched me from the tops of the highest mountains, at the same time taking note of any change in the weather, and as soon as the sky darkened he made me a signal that I could hear far p. 117 and wide, after which I took my way homewards. He also gave me several instructions, and said I might go anywhere excepting to the north, because of a monstrous reptile that was reported to ravage those parts. One day my father gave me the signal; but not even having had a chance of killing any game, I did not obey his call. Afterwards, when I was going to return home, the storm overtook me, and I could hardly see anything on account of the wind and the snow-drifts, and consequently lost my way. Wandering about in this manner, I at length discovered something that appeared to me like two large windows of a house; then I saw that the other parts were like a hill; and finally I saw that this was the terrible reptile against which my father had warned me. I at once took to flight. However, he had already seen me, and pursued me; but whenever he came up I leapt across him, and striking him with my lance, I continued running. At last, however, turning round to look for him, and noticing that he was quite close upon me, I cried aloud with fatigue, and falling to the ground, I lost my senses. I was soon awakened by a cool touch upon my face, and at once remembered the monster reptile. Looking about for him, I beheld him lying close to my feet. With my eyes constantly fixed upon him, I very cautiously crept away; and as he did not even move, I rose to my feet and walked on: but I did not reach my home until the fourth day, and had been given up for lost. On entering the house my father said, 'Our housemates have got nothing to help thee with.' But I told him that I had barely escaped from the reptile, and that apparently I had left him dead; and then my father said, 'The body of the reptile is said to consist of nothing but fat;' and he added, 'our house-fellows are almost starving.' These were now informed of what had happened, and they went out in search of the monster; but many of them died before they reached the spot—some just outside their houses p. 118 others farther away, till the whole road was covered with dead bodies. But those who reached the reptile flensed away at him, and found him to consist principally of fat, mixed with a little lean flesh. They afterwards had it for food the whole winter." This was Akigsiak's report at his first meeting with the coast people.

The next time he told how he had once been away on an excursion with his father, and that on approaching the sea-shore they observed a whale close outside, and a number of coast people standing on the beach. By his father's orders he ran down and made an old man teach him a magic lay for luring the whale up the river. As soon as the whale had entered the river a crowd of inlanders appeared; but before they had been able to penetrate the skin of the whale with their harpoons, Akigsiak ran off home in order to fetch his weapons. Though he had to round three large bays on his way, he was still in good time to despatch the whale after his return, and then proceeded to give everybody his share of it, not forgetting the old coast man, whom he protected against the inlanders. At the third meeting he went on to tell how, having once heard that some other inlanders had caught an immense fish the shape of a salmon, he hurried down to the river-side and threw his harpoon also into the fish, but that his companions being too few, the other inlanders stationed on the opposite side succeeded in hauling it from them. He then hastened on to a place where the river was somewhat narrower, and in jumping across hurled himself round, head over heels, before he alighted on his feet at the opposite shore. There he soon frightened away the other inlanders, took his share of the fish—which he threw across to his own people on the other side—and then jumped back in the same way he had come. At his fourth meeting with the coast people, Akigsiak told them about a quarrel he once had with an igalilik (viz., "pot-bearer," certain fabulous inlanders p. 119 carrying boiling pots on their shoulders), whom he had pushed down a precipice, crushing him to death against the rocks. At last, Akigsiak met with an inorusek (another kind of gigantic inlanders) on the high banks of a river. While they were amusing themselves with throwing stones, the inorusek persuaded him to try to hit a kayaker just passing by below, whom he did not fail to kill on the spot. Akigsiak, repenting himself of his deed, afterwards slew the inorusek, but is said never from this time to have ventured himself among the coast people again, because of the murder he had committed. Only once, they say, did he go to visit a certain coast man, who lived on the banks of a river, in order to try a boxing-match and a race with him. Although he was said to be a smaller man than the other inlanders, he was at all events larger than our people; his back was as broad as that of two others put together, and his height very little less than two people on top of each other.