The Hunter and the Polar Bear

(An Inuit Folk Tale)

Once there was a poor hunter. He always went out but never got anything. Finally one day he saw a polar bear. As he crawled toward it over the ice, the bear said to him, "Don't shoot me. If you follow me and do what I say, I will make it so you will always be able to get whatever animals you think about."

The bear told the man to climb on his back and close his eyes. "Do not open them until I tell you to." Then, the man and the bear went down into the sea a long way. 'Do not open your eyes,' the bear reminded him. Finally, they came back up and the man saw an igloo along the edge of the pack. They went inside and the man saw another bear with a spear in his haunch. The first bear said, "If you can take that spear out of the bear and make him well, you will become a good hunter." The man broke off the shaft, eased the spear point out of the bear's haunch, and the wound began to heal. Then the first bear took off his bearskin "parka" and became a man.

After the wound was healed completely, the bear-man put back on his bearskin "parka," told the poor hunter to climb on his back and close his eyes, and together they went back into the sea. When the bear finally stopped he asked the man to open his eyes. Looking around, the man realized he had been returned to the spot from which he began his journey. He thought he had only been gone a day, but on arriving home he found that he had been away a month. From then on, the man was always a good hunter.

-taken from Norman A. Chance's The Eskimo of North Alaska.

From Rachel Baar's, Kimi Hata's, and Arthur Wendel's ID1 paper.