Monday, 11 May 2009

Tales from the far North : Kiviuq

Kiviuq came across a woman bathing. He thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life. However, he noticed that on the shore lay her clothing. It was all feathers. The beautiful lady was actually a goose-woman! Kiviuq decided that he did not care if she was a bird woman. He wanted her for his wife, so he stole her feather clothing. Kiviuq then asked the goose-woman to marry him. She agreed.

Time passed and the goose-woman grew to love Kiviuq. Eventually, they had children. She liked being a goose. However, she was unhappy. She liked to eat her own food that consisted of grass and sand instead of people food like caribou and seal meat. Kiviuq insisted that she eat people food because that is what he hunted. One day, the goose-woman decided that she should be able to eat whatever food she wanted, so she did. Kiviuq got angry with her.

The goose-woman did not think it was right for Kiviuq to insist that she eat human food. One day when he was away hunting she found her feather clothing from where Kiviuq had hidden it. She put her feathers back on, gathered her children and flew with them far away to the south. Before she met Kiviuq she flew south every winter, like many birds do.

When Kiviuq returned his family was gone. He did not know where they went, so he searched everywhere for them. Searching everywhere takes a long time. One day he met a big man chopping wood. His name was Eqatlejok. With his axe, the man created fish from pieces of wood. Kiviuq begged Eqatlejok to help him. The fish-maker decided to help Kiviuq because he felt sorry for him. Eqatlejok made Kiviuq a large fish to carry him over the sea to where his family was living. He climbed on the fish and it carried him through the water.

At the end of the journey, Kiviuq found his goose-family. His goose-wife decided that she liked it better when Kiviuq was around and Kiviuq decided that he did not care if she ate goose-food. They decided to live together again and let each other be who they really were.

Image: Qiviuq’s Journey, by William Noah