Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 3, 2004 - Issue 116


pictograph divider




Inuit Legend


credits: Taken from: Eskimo Folk-Tales, collected by Knud Rasmussen, translated and edited by W. Worster, [London, 1921]


There was once an old man, and he had only one son, and that son was called Anarteq. But he had many daughters. They were very fond of going out walrus hunting to the eastward of their own place, in a fjord. And when they came right into the base of the fjord, Anarteq would let his sisters go up the hillside to drive the walrus, and when they drove them so, those beasts came out into a big lake, where Anarteq could row out in his kayak and kill them all.

Thus in a few days they had their umiak filled with meat, and could go home again.

One day when they were out walrus hunting, as was their custom, and the walrus had swum out, and Anarteq was striking them down, he saw a calf, and he caught hold of it by the tail and began to play with it. But suddenly the walrus heaved up its body above the surface of the water, and kicked at the kayak so that it turned over. He tried to get up, but could not, because the kayak was full of water. And at last he crawled out of it.

The women looked at him from the shore, but they could not get out to help him, and at last they heard him say:

"Now the salmon are beginning to eat my belly."

And very slowly he went to the bottom.

Now when Anarteq woke again to his senses, he had become a salmon. But his father was obliged to go back alone, and from that time, having no son, he must go out hunting as if he had been a young man. And he never again rowed up to those walrus grounds where they had hunted before.

And now that Anarteq had thus become a salmon, he went with the others, in the spring, when the rivers break up, out into the sea to grow fat.

But his father, greatly wishing to go once more to their old hunting grounds, went there again as chief of a party, after many years had passed. His daughters rowed for him. And when they came in near to the base of the fjord, he thought of his son, and began to weep. But his son, coming up from the sea with the other salmon, saw the umiak, and his father in it, weeping. Then he swam to it, and caught hold of the paddle with which his father steered. His father was greatly frightened at this, and drew his paddle out of the water, and said:

"Anarteq had nearly pulled the paddle from my hand that time."

And for a long while he did not venture to put his paddle in the water again. When he did so at last, he saw that all his daughters were weeping. And a second time Anarteq swam quickly up to the umiak. Again the father tried to draw in his paddle when the son took hold of it, but this time he could not move it. But then at last he drew it quite slowly to the surface, in such a way that he drew his son up with it.

And then Anarteq became a man again, and hunted for many years to feed his kin.

Print and Color Your Own Walrus

pictograph divider

Walrus (Odobenus Rosmarus)Inuktitut name - Aiviq

19th Century Naturalist Edward Nelson Recounts:

"To many of the Eskimo, especially on the Arctic shores, this animal is of almost vital importance and upon Saint Lawrence Island, just south of Bering Straits, over eight hundred Eskimo died in one winter, owing to their missing the fall Walrus hunt.

To these northern people this animal furnishes material for many uses. Its flesh is food for men and dogs; its oil is also used for food and for light in oil lamps and heating the houses. Its skin when tanned and oiled makes a durable cover for their large skin boats; its intestines make waterproof clothing, window-covers, and floats. Its tusks make lance or spear points or are carved into a great variety of useful and ornamental objects, and its bones are used to make heads for spears and other purposes."

Everyone knows what a walrus looks like! Its long ivory tusks are used for many things, including protection from attack by polar bears, killer whales and local hunters in kayaks.

Walrus are very slow on land because they are so big and clumsy, but in the water they are very fast and strong. They can dive down 300 feet to retrieve their favorite food, clams, from the sea bottom. A walrus can eat 4,000 clams in one feeding!

Walruses breed in January or February. Following a 15 to 16 month gestation, a single calf is born. Females are very protective of their young. Female walruses help one another in raising calves. Babies are weaned from their mother at about two years of age.

Air sacs in the walrus' neck allow it to sleep with its head held up in the water. Nursing females use this standing position as they nurse. The pups, born approximately every two years, nurse upside down.

Walrus will dive into the water at the faintest scent of a human. Walrus numbers were very reduced by commercial hunters until 1972 when the Marine Mammal Act started protecting them. Now only native people in the Arctic may hunt them and the populations have grown in size. Native peoples in the Arctic hunt the walrus for food and put every part of its body to good use. They use the tusks for the delicate art of carving called "scrimshaw."

The animal’s vocabulary consists of grunts and bellows, the latter sometimes carrying for a mile or more.

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Vicki Barry and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!