Polar Bear Blog – About A Pingo

Still out there… somewhere. Here’s a story about how everything began in the meantime… From ‘Across Time and Tundra’, a history of the Inuvialuit People…

Long ago, the Inuvialuit lands were not as they are today. Instead of countless rivers and lakes, the land was barren and mountainous, and game was very scarce. But the pingo or ice hill called Ibyuk, which today stands overlooking the town of Tuktoyaktuk, was already in existence, and on its top lived an Inuvialuit hunter and his wife and son. This son was the spirit of the raven. And with them lived an orphan girl.

It happened one day that the hunter went out to check his traps and was greatly surprised to find a large sealskin bag, which was filled with water. Day by day he watched, the bag grew larger and larger and the hunter was filled with misgivings. He warned his neighbours, but they laughed at him. Helped by his family, the hunter began hauling heavy driftwood logs up to the top of his pingo, where he built a large raft and on top of it a cabin. And still the sealskin bag grew larger. The man’s neighbours laughed even harder at his ridiculous efforts.

And it happened one day that the sealskin bag burst and water poured from it continuously for days and weeks and months. Soon all the land beneath the pingo was flooded and all the people who had laughed at the hunter had drowned. Eventually, the flood even over-topped Ibyuk and the man and his family were left floating on their raft. All around them was a vast ocean. The water did not go down for days and weeks and months.

One day, the boy who was the spirit of the Raven asked his father for the use of his kayak and hunting equipment. He wanted to get some food and check for dry land.

He paddled his kayak for many days. The boy paddled for a long, long time and finally came upon an island that was bobbing up and down in the water but when he approached it disappeared! Quickly, he threw his harpoon to where he had last seen the island and it caught. He pulled and the island appeared. It was Ibyuk! The boy, who was the spirit of the Raven, pulled the island until it did not sink again.

He returned for his father and the others and they settled once again on Ibyuk, On Ibyuk, the Raven boy married the orphaned girl and from them arose the Inuvialuit people.

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