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
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 far away 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.