Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
Index Previous Next

123. ANGAKORSIAK WAS VERY PROUD OF HIS ANGAKOK WISDOM, and always roamed about seeking opportunities of emulating other angakut. When he happened to surpass them, he used to mock and ridicule them in a most overbearing manner. Once he visited an angakok far up north, and challenged him to a match, at which, in broad daylight, they were to contend in working the wonders of their art before an assembly. Angakorsiak began his performance by cutting off his arm near the shoulder, inserting it again and drinking the blood from the wound; after which he p. 460 swallowed an arrow-point and made it appear again, opened his stomach with a knife, and so on. When he had finished, the other angakok repeated the same feats with the utmost perfection, and then remarked, "Well, what we have yet done amounts to nothing; but I should now like to try a kayak-race with thee." They went down in their kayaks, and the angakok of the place, taking his way to an island, threw his harpoon at a rock with such force as to make it enter the stone and blood to spring from it. Angakorsiak on trying this entirely failed, his harpoon being broken and lost. On their way back to the shore he bent down his head from shame, capsized his kayak, and sank. But directly afterwards a reindeer emerged from the water, and ran up on the beach. Shame having thus transformed him into a reindeer, he afterwards turned a man again, and hastened away, resolved to give up all kind of emulation in future.

NOTE.— Of this tale several variants exist, the traditions about the deeds of angakut, on the whole, being numerous.