CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 31. . . .April 17, 2015
In this Inuit creation legend, beautiful Arnaq is spoiled by her father, Ataata. Many hunters try to court her, but she refuses their advances until a fulmar (a species of sea bird) comes to the camp disguised as a handsome young man. Qaqulluk is a powerful shaman who woos Arnaq with overwrought promises and sweeps her away from her peaceful life Arnaq quickly realizes she has been deceived by her new husband. Instead of having “the best pelts for clothes, and the softest caribou hides for blankets,” her new home is made of “disgusting fish skins.” Depressed, she meekly cries for her father’s help. When Ataata arrives to check on his only child, Arnaq begs to be rescued. A flock of fulmars witness the escape and inform Qaqulluk. In the confrontation that ensues, Qaqulluk creates a violent storm, and Ataata, fearing for his life, forsakes his daughter and throws her overboard, even going so far as cutting off her fingers to keep her from holding on to the boat. Underwater, Arnaq’s fingers transform into whales and seals, and she becomes, Nuliajuq, “the spirit of the sea,” avenging humans who “disrespect the land or the sea.”
Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.