How the Trout Was Made

Filed Under: Arctic, Folk Tales

Once upon a time there lived a great angekok who was always trying to help his people. One day as he was walking along the shore he was thinking about how he could help his people get more food, for game was someĀ­times scarce and they were often hungry.

It was a bright, still day and the water was very calm and beautiful. The angekok looked out across the smooth blue water and said to himself, “How I wish that I could make something to live in the water! If I could take something that grows on the land and change it into a living thing to swim in the water, then my people could find more food.”

The angekok looked around and saw some willows growing nearby. He went over and broke off a little dry stick and, holding it in his hands, he said:

“Torngak, be near me,
My people hunger.
Here in this water
Is seaweed in plenty
Seaweed for food
For new living creatures.
(Torngak, be near me.)

Here is a stick
That grew on a willow.
Let it no more be a thing on the dry land,
But change it, O Torngak, to live in the water.
Now I shall throw it far off in the water.
Torngak, be kind to the Eskimo people,
Make the stick live when it falls in the water.
(Torngak, be near me,)”

As the angekok finished speaking he threw the stick into the water. It sank.

After a short time a fish came up and said to him, “I am very wet and cold. I would rather be on the land again.”

So the angekok took the fish out of the water and folded a piece of seaweed around it.

“This will keep you warm until you get used to living in the water. It is the will of my torngak that you live there and be useful to all the Eskimo people. We shall call you Excalupik, the Trout. Go, now, into the water and stay.”

So saying, the angekok threw the trout back into the water and it obeyed the voice of the great and good angekok.

Even yet the Eskimo people tell the story of the angekok who gave them the trout, and they will show you the stripe that runs along its side. This stripe, they will tell you, is the seam where the folds of seaweed met when the angekok wrapped it around the poor wet fish.

So, you see, the story must be true.

From “Tales the Eskimos Tell” (1900), by Dorothy Morrison ?