Long ago in an Inuit village lived a young woman named Sedna. She loved her parents dearly, and spent her days happily in their company. Many of the young men of the village wanted to marry her, but Sedna did not wish to marry any of them. She was well taken care of in her parents’ home, and did not wish to start her own household.

One day, a beautiful young man came to visit Sedna. He was tall and strong, and told her that he had huge quantities of furs and food, so she would never need to worry or work, and would spend her days comfortable in his home. Delighted, Sedna agreed to marry this stranger.

Just after they were married, her new husband picked up Sedna in his arms, and flew away with her to his island. Sedna was shocked to discover that her new husband was not a man at all. He was bird, who used magic to look like a man and lure Sedna away from her family. He had also lied about his home. It was nothing but a pile of sticks sheltered by boulders. He had no food or warm furs or even a roof for Sedna. Sedna was furious at his betrayal, but she was unable to leave the island. She did not have a boat, and could not fly.

Some time passed, and Sedna’s father decided to take his boat and visit his daughter. When he arrived Sedna hastily told him how her husband had deceived them all. Filled with rage, the father picked up his knife, and killed Sedna’s husband. The father and Sedna crawled into his boat, and began to journey home.

As they were leaving, the other birds on the island realized what had happened. They wanted revenge for the murder of their friend, and flapped their wings to create a great storm. Frightened, the father flung Sedna out of his boat so that she would drown in the icy cold water.

She quickly swam back to the boat, and tried to climb back in. Still more frightened, her father took out his knife, and cut off the first joints of her fingers and tossed them into the water. Bleeding and in pain, she still gripped the side of the boat and tried to climb back in. He then cut off the second joint of her fingers, and tossed them into the water. Sedna refused to be left behind to die, so she still clung to the side of the boat. Seeing that she was still there, he cut off the third joints of her fingers.

With no fingers left, she sank into the icy darkness of the water. As she sank, her finger joints all drifted away, and transformed into all the creatures of the sea. They turned into fish, seals, walruses, and whales.

Sedna slowly sank to the very bottom of the ocean, and made a home for herself on the ocean floor. As she combs her hair, waves are made up above her. The animals of the ocean are her children. When she is happy, she allows the animals to be hunted by the people who live on the surface. Should the humans displease her, she keeps her children home and leaves the humans to starve in the cold.


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