Sunday, May 4, 2014

Alaska: The Lost Light

This story is part of the Alaskan Legends unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of Alaska, edited by Katharine Berry Judson (1911).


The Lost Light
Eskimo (Port Clarence)

[LIBRIVOX AUDIO]

ONCE upon a time, all the people were together in a singing house. While they were dancing the sun disappeared. No one knew where it had gone. Because it was so dark, people could not go hunting and soon their provisions were exhausted.

Then they told the women to mend their clothing carefully and to make as many boots as possible. These they put into bags. Then the people set out to search for the sun.

They followed the seacoast. They travelled so far they wore out their boots, so they put on new boots from their bags. Yet it was dark all the time.

After many days they came to a country where were many, many seals and walrus and deer. The language of the people was different from their own. After a while they learned to talk it a little. They asked these people where to find the sun. These people said that the sun was far off. Before they came to the sun's country they would come to five places. This was the first place. But in the fourth place beyond there lived a woman who kept both the sun and moon in her house.

So they went on. It was very cold and they ran as fast as they could because it was so cold. Then their food gave out. But they reached a country where there was plenty to eat. Here the people spoke a strange language. After a while they learned to talk it a little. These people told them that at the third place they reached they would find a woman who kept the sun and moon in her house.

The people ran on. They ran because it was so very cold. Then when their food was gone, they reached another country where there was plenty of food. The language of the people was different from their own. But after a while they learned to understand it a little. These people said that at the second place which they would reach lived a woman named Itudluqpiaq who had both sun and moon in her house, but it was doubtful if they would be able to get them.

Then they went on again. They had to run as fast as they could to keep warm. It was very cold. When their food was almost gone, they reached the country of the dwarfs. It was a country with plenty of food, walrus and seal and deer. The dwarfs tried to run away when they saw the large men coming. But the people caught them. The dwarfs said that at the next place lived the woman Itudluqpiaq who had both sun and moon.

As the people ran on from the country of the dwarfs, they found ice and driftwood in their way. They kicked it all aside. At that time the people were very strong and able to lift heavy stones.

After they had run a long way, they saw a singing house. When they came near, they went very slowly because they were afraid. At last one of the men tied his jacket around his waist and his trousers around his knees. Then he crept cautiously through the entrance and put his head through the door at the bottom of the floor.

He saw a young woman, Itudluqpiaq, sitting in the middle of the house toward the rear. Her father was sitting in the middle of the house on the right-hand side and her mother on the left-hand side. At the back of the house, in the right-hand corner on the rafter, hung a large ball; in the left-hand corner a small ball.

The man whispered, "Itudluqpiaq, we came to ask you for some light."

The mother said, "Give them the small ball."

The man refused the small ball. He asked for the large one. Then Itudluqpiaq took it down and gave it a kick. It fell right into the entrance hole. The people took the ball and ran outside. Then they tore the ball to pieces and the daylight came out of it. It was not so warm at once, but it grew warmer day after day. If they had taken the small ball it would have been light, but it would have remained cold. The small ball was the moon.


(700 words)









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