“So in the beginning there were giants. On one winter evening, a mother giant and a father giant had a baby girl and named her Sedna. Throughout the first winter and then as she grew up, she got bigger and bigger, eventually growing larger than her mother and father. She grew so big that she couldn’t find any more food to eat. Her parents managed to wrap her in a large blanket and pushed her to their canoe. In the dark of the night, they paddled out to see and when they were out of sight of land, they dumped her out of the canoe and left her to drown in the cold water. As they paddled away, Sedna’s huge hands wrapped up and grabbed the canoe, shaking it vigorously. Her parents sliced at her fingers with their knives, but when each chopped off part of her body fell into the ocean, it changed into an animal, with one becoming a whale, seal, walrus, and salmon. Sedna then swam to the bottom of the ocean and stayed there, living in a hut that fish built there. Whenever people are hungry, they can ask Sedna to send more food.”
The informant told me this myth when I told him about my folklore collection project upon getting back to my apartment for class one evening. My friend told me that he had learned this myth about Sedna creating all the animals in the world from his grandfather. His grandfather was a fisherman and the son of an Inuit mother and British father. When my friend visited him when he was younger, his grandfather would always love to tell him and his brother about his Inuit heritage. The informant’s grandfather had originally lived in Gillam, Manitoba before moving to Calgary in search of better opportunity, so many of the stories he told often reflected how his grandfather probably missed his old way of life. My friend recalls his grandfather sitting on his rocking chair with a glass of beer in his hand as he recited his stories for hours, always laughing at some of the ridiculous questions the informant and his brother would ask at the end of each story. My friend says he liked hearing these Inuit stories because they made him feel more connected to his ancestors while also highlighting the diversity Canada’s peoples.
Though I had heard a few Native American legends told in class over the course of the semester, I had never such a complete story. As someone who lacks exposure to most things outside of the European tradition, hearing a creation story such as this seems almost confusing and improbable, as I’ve been taught to think of creation in terms of science and evolution or via the Bible’s rendition. I was unaware that stories like this existed, and its cool to hear other people’s explanations for how the world has come to be. For another version of this myth, see Sedna: Goddess of the Sea, a book by Joel Rudinger.
Rudinger, Joel. Sedna Goddess of the Sea. New York: Cambric Press, 2006. Print.