Aulajijakka (Things I Remember)
‘Hunting Bear in Igloo’ story from the ‘Aulajijakka (Things I Remember)’ series by Kananginak Pootoogook – Inuit Art – Cape Dorset 2010 print collection by Dorset Fine Arts, presented by DaVic Gallery of Native Canadian Arts.
Condition: No condition noted.
Description by Artist: No description by artist found.
Notes from DaVic Gallery:
The series “Aulajijakka” (Things I Remember) by Kananginak Pootoogook are all signed posthumously by the artist’s son, Johnny Pootoogook.
Legend of Lumaaq:
There once was a family made up of a woman, her young son and her daughter. Because the boy was a very skilled hunter, they were never short of food. But the mother came to resent her son as she grew tired of skinning so many animals and cutting up so much meat. How could she stop him from hunting, she wondered? One day while he slept, she rubbed blubber in his eyes, and from then on he could no longer see.
Now the mother and her daughter had to provide for the family, trapping foxes and hunting ptarmigan and other small game. The mother resented her son even more than before, and kept only the least appetizing morsels for him.
One winter day, a polar bear tried to break into the igloo through the thin ice-window. Quickly, the woman handed her boy his bow and arrow. Guided by his mother, he aimed at the bear. There was a loud thud as the arrow pierced the bear’s flesh. The boy was sure he had killed it but his mother insisted that he hit the dog instead. A short distance from the igloo, the bear fell.
The woman cut up the meat and hid it for herself and her daughter. All she gave the boy was old fox meat. His sister felt sorry for him, so once in a while she hid some bear meat under her parka to give him. She did not say that it was bear meat, but the boy knew from the taste of the good meat that his mother had lied.
Spring came, the roof of the igloo melted, then it collapsed. The blind boy inside the igloo heard a loon flying overhead and called for help. The loon responded, and explained that the reason for his blindness was that dirt had been rubbed into his eyes. To see again, he would have to wash his eyes in a lake. The loon offered to lead him to this lake. The boy doubted that such a small bird could be of much help, but he followed it anyhow.
At the lake, the loon indicated that they were going to dive under the water. “Do not stir until you feel you are choking and dying” it said. The boy went down until he felt he was suffocating, then he moved and the loon brought him to the surface. “Can you see?” the loon asked. “I can see light” answered the boy. “Then you must go back down again” said the loon. When he felt that he was about to suffocate, he moved and the loon brought him back to the surface. This time the boy could see land, but not too clearly. Again the loon and the boy went down. Finally, when they resurfaced, the boy could see a lemming going into its hole on the side of a faraway hill. At the same time, he was surprised to see that the loon was as big as a kayak. “What can I do in return for your help?” he asked. The loon replied that there were no fish in the lake and asked him to put some in so that it would have food.
The boy returned home to the igloo where his mother lay fast asleep and pretended he was still blind. He noticed the filthy skins he had been sleeping on when he was blind. When his mother woke up, he asked for some water and she gave him water which was dirty and crawling with water lice. The boy pushed the cup away in disgust. Realizing that her son could see, she quickly brought him fresh water.
After this the boy began to provide for the family once again, and soon there was an abundance of food as in the past. Then one day, seeing whales close to the shore, the boy asked his mother for help. “Stand behind me and tie the harpoon line around your waist so that we can pull the whale together when I harpoon it”, said the boy. “Aim for the smallest one” she said. But he waited for the largest whale and harpooned it. Then, instead of pulling on the line with his mother, he let it go and the large whale dragged her into the sea. As she was going under, the woman cried “Lumaa, lumaa, lumaa”.
Thus ends the story of the woman who was cruel to her son. It is said that long afterwards, hunters could sometimes hear the mother’s cries of anguish as she was pulled across the sea.