An Aboriginal Presence
Wealth of Stories - Kiviuk (Inuit)
Swept out to sea in his kayak, Kiviuk, a man with supernatural powers, began a long journey. Fighting waves and whirlpools in the fierce storm, he drifted. As the storm lost strength, and the sea became quieter, he saw land.
As he drew close to the coast, he saw a stone house with a light burning. He landed and went in. An old woman named Arnaitiang lived there. She was kind to him: she dried his boots, slippers and stockings over her stone lamp, and went out to cook a meal for him.
When the boots and stockings were dry, he reached for them; but every time he was about to grasp them, the frame rose out of reach. He called to Arnaitiang for help, but she simply told him to keep trying, and to sit in the house where she had been sitting when he entered. Arnaitiang was a person of great supernatural power and wished to eat Kiviuk.
Realizing that she planned to hurt him, Kiviuk called his spirit helper: a large white bear, who roared from under the floor of the house. At first, Arnaitiang did not hear him, but as the bear got closer and closer to the surface, she rushed in, trembling with fear, and gave Kiviuk his boots. With his stockings, boots and slippers in his hand, Kiviuk rushed out the door, which closed abruptly, tearing off the tail of his jacket. Kiviuk kept on going and paddled away in his kayak.
Travelling on, following the shore, he again came to a hut. He was wet and hungry, and went inside, finding a woman who lived all alone with her daughter. Her son-in-law was a log of driftwood with four boughs. Every day at low tide, they carried it to the beach and when the tide came in, it swam away. It returned each night with eight large seals. One day it never returned.
Kiviuk married the daughter. He went sealing every day, and was very successful. Preparing for the time when he would leave, he increased his supply of mittens by pretending each night that he had lost the mittens he had had that morning. In fact, he hid them in his jacket.
His mother-in-law was jealous of her daughter and wanted to marry Kiviuk herself. One day while he was hunting, she killed her daughter and put on her daughter's skin. She looked like a young woman, but when Kiviuk came in and saw the bones, he realized what she had done. He left.
He travelled on for many days, following the shore. Again, cold and hungry, he came to a house with a light burning. Thinking it best this time to find out who was inside, he climbed up to the window and looked through the peephole. An old woman, Aissivang (spider), sat on the bed. When she saw Kiviuk at the window, she thought it was a cloud passing the sun and blocking the light she needed to work. She became angry and cut away her eyebrows and ate them. Ignoring the dripping blood, she kept on sewing. Kiviuk decided that she must be a very bad woman and did not go in.
After many days and nights of travel, Kiviuk came to his own country. Boats came to meet him. They had been whaling, and were towing a large whale. In the bow stood Kiviuk's son, who had killed the whale. A small boy when Kiviuk had left, he was now grown-up and a great hunter. Kiviuk's wife had taken a new husband, but she returned to him.
Condensed from Harold Seidelman and James Turner, The Inuit Imagination (original source: Franz Boas, The Central Eskimo)