Dog Husband

There are several versions of this tale known across Greenland and the North American Arctic. In some areas it is part of the Sedna tradition, with the marriage to the dog occurring prior to the marriage to the bird. The tale explains the origin of the Indians and Whites.

There was a girl who refused to marry all suitors. None were good enough for her. Finally her father was so angry he said, “You should have a dog for a husband.” Later that night, a dog in the form of a man came in and slept with the girl. When the girl became pregnant, her father rowed her out to a nearby island, but the dog swam after them and lived with the girl on the island. She gave birth to a litter of pups and human children.

Her dog husband would swim back to shore to get bags of meat that had been set out for them. One day, however, the girl’s father placed stones in the bags and covered them with meat to conceal the stones. When the dog husband tried to swim back to the island he sank and drowned. Then the father began taking meat to the island for the girl and her children. But she was still angry at him for making her marry the dog in the first place. So she told her dog children to attack the old man the next time he came to the island. Her father was able to escape back to his village but was afraid to return to the island.

Soon the girl and her children were hungry and had no one to bring them any meat. So she cut off the soles of her boots and made boats out of them. She set the dog children in one boat and sent them off across the sea, telling them that they would be skillful with weapons. White men are descended from these dog children.

The girl then set her human children in the other boat and sent them across the water and ordered them to go inland. These became the ancestors of Indians who lived to the south of the Inuit. Then the girl returned home and lived with her parents again.

References and further reading:

  • Boas, Franz. The Central Eskimo. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964. Fisher, John F. “An Analysis of the Central Eskimo Sedna Myth.” Temenos 11 (1995): 27–42.
  • Millman, Lawrence. A Kayak Full of Ghosts: Eskimo Folk Tales. 1987. Northampton, Mass.: Interlink Press, 2004.
  • Rasmussen, Knud. Iglulik and Caribou Eskimo Texts. 1930. Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition, vol. 7, no. 3. New York: AMS Press, 1976.

Taken from : Handbook of Native American Mythology written by Dawn E. Bastian and Judy K. Mitchell – Copyright © 2004