The Legend Of The Great Flood

An Ingilraani legend tells of a great flood that renewed the land. Several versions of the story have been recorded. The central figures in most of these stories are a man and his wife, their son who is sometimes spoken of as the spirit of a raven, and an orphan girl. This version of the flood story was told by Kenneth Peeloolook.

Beginning of Inuit

They were a happy family. One morning, the man looked in the distance and saw a black object rising from the horizon. He had never seen such a dark, threatening object in this life before. He looked to the earth and the blackness appeared before him on the ground. He was worried and became afraid of what appeared to be a sign or warning to him. He looked again to see if it might be his mind that was playing tricks on him, but the sign was only clearer. He had experienced many floods in his time, but the sky did not tell the tales of such blackness as it did now.

He talked with his wife and explained what he had seen. The wife said it was indeed a sign to him to prepare for a flood that they had never before experienced. From the sign, the danger would be long with them. The couple then began to gather all the material they needed to build a sturdy raft that would carry them through the toughest time of their lives.

The man knew that he must continue to work even though he grew tired. He asked others to help him, but they only laughed and told him he was getting excited about the things he did not know about, for how come it was going to happen if it never happened before? After all, why make such a huge raft and on top of it all, make it on the ground? How very foolish and unnecessary. Indeed, what sort of man was this who became excited about such a little matter when everyone was so well off. The man was left alone to work. A young orphan girl was the only other person who would help.

… Then the rain began, the black clouds covered the sky and darkened the earth. It rained until the earth gradually disappeared. Those who had not taken the warning cried out for help, but it was too late…

[In some versions of this story, the son sets off to explore in a kayak. He spies the top of a pingo rising above the water, and spears it with his harpoon, causing the water to recede.]

Kenneth Peeloolook concludes his story:

The raft was quiet as they waited until the time they were able to go onto the earth once again. When they felt quite safe, they made a camp and began to live a life with good laws and understanding. The orphan girl and son of the hunter lived together and soon had children of their own. It is said that the Inuit began from that time, each year the children became more in number.

The husband and wife advised the young people how to live, to make a strong and healthy people.

Kenneth Peeloolook, The Beginning of the Eskimo People, (COPE/NWT Archives/N-1992-253) as revised in Taimani – Inuvialuit Timeline Visual Guide (Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, 2011).