Myth-Folklore Unit: Eskimo Folk Tales

Overview. These Canadian Inuit stories were recorded by the polar explorer Knud Rasmussen (whose mother was Inuit) in the early years of the 20th century; his Inuit name was Kunúnguaq. Rasmussen grew up in Greenland among the Kalaallit Inuit speaking the Kalaallisut language, and he spent his life investigating the origin and culture of the Inuit peoples. He published many books about his expeditions and research; Eskimo Folk-Tales was published in 1921, and it contains illustrations by Inuit artists. You will read here about the shamans and their adventures in the spirit world, including encounters with the tupilak (zombies), man-eaters, and ghosts. There are stories of family drama, too, along with animal tales and the Inuit creation story about how the world began.

Language. Rasmussen reports these stories in a style quite close to the original oral style, not quite as extreme as the Apache stories, but close to it. If you want to read stories that are close to the original oral storytelling tradition, this unit and the Apache unit are two good choices. The names are quite unusual, but as the names do not recur from story to story, that should not be a big problem for any given story.

Story Length. These are all single-page stories.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Eskimo Folk Tales. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

  1. The Coming of Men, A Long, Long While Ago
  2. Nukúnguasik, who Escaped from the Tupilak
  3. The Woman Who Had a Bear as a Foster-Son
  4. Qalagánguasê, Who Passed to the Land of Ghosts
  5. Isigâligârssik
  6. The Insects that Wooed a Wifeless Man
  7. Makíte
  8. Atungait, Who Went A-Wandering
  9. The Giant Dog
  1. Papik, Who Killed His Wife's Brother
  2. Pâtussorssuaq, Who Killed His Uncle
  3. The Wife Who Lied
  4. The Eagle and the Whale
  5. Atdlarneq, The Great Glutton
  6. Ángángŭjuk
  7. Âtârssuaq
  8. Tungujuluk and Saunikoq
  9. Kánagssuaq