L. McGregor

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The Creation of Wolves

The wind howled across the cold plains like the pack of dogs that were pulling the sleigh across the snow. Amaruq lead them through the blizzard, heading toward the small village where he lived.

The village relied on their hunters to bring back food, but the blizzard was too thick to see and the caribou, their main food source, had moved on.

Amaruq continued struggling through the storm. The wind whined in his ears and he could barely see five feet in front of him. He could hear the sound of trees cracking in the wind and something whipping around in front of him.

Suddenly, the wind began to die down. Amaruq stopped and looked around. His empty sleigh had flipped over in the wind and the straps attaching the four dogs to the sleigh were twisted tightly. Broken branches were scattered across the ground, along with a couple small trees. Snow was piled up in high drifts around Amaruq, carving a path all the way to the horizon. Amaruq’s small village stood to his right; if he’d kept going forward he would have completely missed his village.

Amaruq turned to his dogs and started untwisting the straps.

A whoosh behind him startled him, and he jumped, making the dogs bark.

Amaruq looked behind him. A tall woman stood there, clothed in a thick deerskin parka. Her hair, black as darkest night, billowed from under her hood. She had ink on her face: on her chin, cheekbones, and forehead. In her hand was a bow, on her back a quiver of beautifully crafted arrows. They were rare weapons in Amaruq’s village.

Amaruq knew who this was. Pinga, goddess of the hunt.

Amaruq dropped to his knees and bowed his head.

Amaruq’s village honoured this goddess, along with Arnakuagsak, the goddess responsible for making sure hunters were able to catch game, Nijalik, goddess of hunting on land, and Tekkeitsertok, the god of hunting and the father of caribou. They had honoured them for many many years.

“Great goddess Pinga, why do you appear to me?” Amaruq asked the goddess.

Pinga gestured for the man to rise, and waited patiently for him to gain his footing before speaking. “Someone in your village has dishonoured my brother and sisters, and me. He must accompany you to the far north, where you will find all the game you need to survive many seasons. You have one week to go there and get back. And if you do not get back in time, your village will die.”

Amaruq was scared, but he nodded his head. “Who is this man?”

“Your brother.” Pinga tilted her head, “Good luck.”

Then she disappeared, carried away by the wind.

Amaruq angrily stormed toward his village with renewed energy, the dogs trailing after him.

The few people that were out and about looked happy when the man entered the village, but their faces soon fell at the sight of the empty sled.

Amaruq crossed the centre of town and banged on his brother, Kumaglak’s, door. Kumaglak’s wife, Alasie, opened the door and smiled at her brother-in-law, “Hello, Amaruq.”

Amaruq forced a kind smile onto his face and greeted her back politely before asking for his brother.

Alasie invited Amaruq in and disappeared to get Kumaglak.

Kumaglak and Amaruq had never gotten along as boys, bickering constantly and never getting along. As the boys grew, their father passed away from sickness, like so many did. Amaruq became the head of the household, even though he was the younger brother and Kumaglak should have taken over. When Kumaglak was old enough, he left without saying goodbye and married Alasie. Amaruq kept caring for his mother, but she eventually died of old age. Amaruq, not interested in marriage, became one of the best hunters in the village. Before the caribou moved on and Amaruq could barely catch a net-full of fish. And the village was getting hungrier.

Amaruq’s brother finally came to the door, and Amaruq chided him and told him to pack a bag. Kumaglak obliged, and the two men set off in their canoe.

After three days, the brothers finally reached a great valley in the far north. Enough caribou to feed the village for many, many seasons grazed below. Ducks flew above their heads, and fat grouse wandered at their feet.

“Come, brother.” Kumaglak told his companion. “Let us hunt enough food to feed us for the rest of our lives.”

Amaruq shook his head, “No. We should only take enough food to feed the village for a season.”

Kumaglak lowered his head in disappointment and hoisted his spear. He headed off down the slope into the valley, calling over his shoulder, “If they are here for us, why should we not take them while we can?”

Amaruq walked quickly and caught up with his brother. “We should not because you have already disrespected the gods once. We do not want to do it again.”

Amaruq left his brother and walked in the opposite direction, slipping around a row of tall boulders to hunt. He was angry. His greedy and selfish brother might realize he is wrong if he is left alone.

But Kumaglak did not think he was wrong. He thought Amaruq was a worshiper, afraid of the gods, and lived only to please them. And Amaruq had always been the stronger brother. It was Kumaglak’s turn. Kumaglak felt a sensation come over him. The sensation took over his bones and moved them toward the rocks his brother had disappeared behind.

Kumaglak silently stood behind Amaruq, spear raised. Then he drove it down.

Kumaglak got back to the village in time, and the villagers were very happy with all the food that was brought back. They asked where Amaruq was, and Kumaglak told them the truth, for he held no guilt in the matter.

Kumaglak had killed Amaruq.

All of the sudden, a light breeze blew through village, and a huge grey dog with sharp teeth and paws the size of caribou hooves padded into the square. He stood in front of Kumaglak and stared up at the man.

Kumaglak recognized the eyes of the animal and knelt in front of it, begging for forgiveness, but it was not given. He disrespected his brother, therefor the gods, by killing Amaruq.

And now, forevermore, Amaruq, in the shape of a dog, roamed the land, teaching people to make the right decisions, and not to kill out of greed.

The villagers called the dog a wolf, and the meaning for Amaruq became ‘grey wolf’.

This is the Creation of Wolves.

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