Written textFascinating Myths of the Inuit

By Elizabeth Lyall, Taloyoak
Northern Writes, Entries from the 1992 NWT Writing Contest

Like any other culture, the Inuit too have legends and myths. There are many fascinating myths and some of us are forgetting them. Here are a few that I know myself:

If your bottom eyelid is twitching, it means that bad luck is on the way. But if the top eyelid is twitching, it means good luck. Some say that if the right eye is moving, chances are that you will see someone that you haven’t seen in a while—maybe someone from out of town.

When you whistle at the Northern Lights, they will become more visible. And they will come closer to you if you keep whistling. And then…they’ll chop your head off and play ball with it. But if you want them to go away, all you have to do is rub your fingernails together and they will disappear.

If you are named after someone, you must not call him or her by that name. If you two have the same name, you must call her by another name, because you must respect or value that particular name. Some even say “this person’s sister’s brother” etc., when they are trying to speak of the namesake.

In the days before there were dolls, if you used to pack a rock pretending it was a doll, you will have a heavy baby when you deliver someday.

Another thing that our mothers used to tell us when we were pregnant is when you first get up in the morning, the first thing that you should do is to go out the door and look both ways. That way you will have a short labour.

I know of a person who told me another thing regarding babies. He was told to always put his dufflesocks neatly facing a certain way when he places them under his pillow. If he puts them any old way, his pregnant wife will deliver a breach baby.

We used to play outside a lot and when it got dark our parents would ask us to come inside. Some of us would refuse to come in. Then they would say that the “Night Monster” will come and take us away. Then we would run home quickly.

This seems true. If you laugh too much or are having too good a time, you will hear of bad news the next day or so. If you are leaving to another town and are over excited, when that day comes, it will be bad weather, or the plane might be mechanical, and then you will be disappointed. Therefore, you must try and wait patiently.

All these different myths that different cultures have…some really believe in some of them or completely refuse to believe in them. Even though you don’t want to believe in them, it seems like they are true. Sometimes, that is. It is up to each of us to believe what we want and don’t want.

These are some myths that fascinate me up to this day. There are still a lot more of these that I wrote down. My dream is to collect them all and write a book about them. It would be a very valuable collection and could be used in schools.