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The Big Fish

In the far upper parts of North America, in Alaska and further, lives a Native American tribe
called the Inuits. Did you know that one of their tribespeople plays for
the Predators here in Nashville? I don’t know if that hockey player
Jordin Tootoo knows my friend Kumak personally, but if you asked him, he
may say that he knows his story.

  Both Jordin & Kumak come from a very cold cold place, where not much grows. That means that catching
fish from the ocean is very important when a whole big family is trying
to survive and have plenty to eat.


  One day when the warm sun reflected off the snow like a shiny mirror reflection, Kumak realized spring was
on its way. He tested the air and poked the snow and announced, “Good
day for fishing!”

 Kumak’s wife stepped out of the hut. She tested the air and poked the snow and nodded her head, “Good day for fishing!”
 Kumak’s Mother-in-Law followed her daughter out of the hut. She tested the air
and poked the snow and declared an amazing observation... “Good day for
fishing!”

  That excited everyone. All of the children immediately began to put on
their heaviest clothes, fur boots and fuzzy hats. They gathered bags of
food for lunch. Finally, they stood ready, holding their fishing rods,
lines dangling down and waiting for fresh bait.

  Kumak instructed everyone- the children, his Mother-in-Law, and his wife- to jump onto
the sled. It was like a pile of puppies to see everyone cuddled
together, nice & cozy. There was one more thing to pack, though-
Kumak’s own Amazing Hooking Stick. This fishing rod had been made by old
Uncle Aglu. It was famous for catching the biggest fishes in the
village. When Uncle Aglu got too old for the family fishing trips, he
gave Kumak the strange-looking device. Instead of a big long pole, the
Amazing Hooking Stick looked like a boomerang with harp strings strung
across it. No matter what it looked like, Kumak knew it was the best
fishing rod he had ever used and it was a honour to remember Uncle Aglu
by using it.

  Kumak jumped on the sled and the family’s pack of dogs began to pull them along, barking all the way. The blue-eyed beasts were
just as excited as the family about the trip. They tossed the sled back
and forth, up one hill and sliding down another. Finally, Kumak yelled
out, “Stop!” The dogs slowed down and stopped with the snow flying
around them.

  Here was the perfect stop for fishing. The family tapped the frozen water of the river, breaking the ice, until each person had
their very own fishing hole. They stuck in the strings, loaded with
bait, and waited. Every once in a while, they would have to scoop the
new snow and ice out of the hole, since it kept trying to freeze up
every few minutes. All day the family worked on their fishing holes. By
late morning, each of the children had caught a fish. They piled them on
the sled and played tag and built snowmen the rest of the day. By
lunchtime, Kumak’s Mother-in-Law and wife had each caught a fish. They
arranged them on the sled and played with the children. By the
afternoon, everyone had caught at least one fish, except Kumak. But he
was patient and waited, scooping out the snow and ice, as his fishing
hole tried to freeze.

  Suddenly, as the sun began to go down, the line of his Amazing Hooking Stick started to twitch. It went this way.
It went that way. It went all the way around. Kumak grabbed hold, happy
to think of such a big fish on the other end of the line. He pulled with
all of his might.

   The line went this way. It went that way. It went all the way around. Kumak fell down and slid headfirst toward hole. “Help!”, he
cried.

  The others came running. His wife grabbed his feet and pulled. His
Mother-in-Law grabbed her waist and pulled. The children grabbed either
side of their grandmother’s hips and pulled. The dogs came running. With
their mouths, they pulled the children’s coats.

   The line of people went this way. It went that way. It went all the way around. “Help!”,
they all cried, and began to slide toward the tiny hole.

  Other villagers on their way home from fishing heard the shouting. Villagers on their way
to fishing heard the shouting. The whole village heard the shouting. All
the villagers grabbed their friends and family and began to pull. The
big group of people went this way. It went that way. It went all the way
around.

 Still Kumak was pulled down into the hole. Splash! He didn’t let go of
the Amazing Hooking Stick, though. He held on with all his might. Above
him, his family, friends and neighbors yelled, “1-2-3!” and pulled one
more time!

  Whoosh! Kumak was pulled out of the fishing hole. He was wet. He was
cold. But he still held the Amazing Hooking Stick! And... on the fishing
line was a fish. Holding on to the tail of that fish was another fish
and holding on to the tail of that fish was another fish... It was one
long line of fish after fish, held tight from mouth to tail, like
elephants at circus.

  Suffice to say, the whole village whooped and hollered. They all helped prepare and eat a big feast of fishes for
days and days. I’d say that Amazing Hooking Stick proved that it was
indeed a “Good day for fishing”.

Views: 33

Tags: Alaska, Inuit, Native American, cooperation

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Comment by Christi U. on January 24, 2011 at 10:46am

@ Brother Beno: It was a fun story to tell. And my dad was in the audience, seeing me perform for the first time ever. Despite my cold and weak voice, the performance went very well.

Speaking of action, my storytelling guild Explorastory let me practice on them before I took the story to my gig. One of the listeners commented afterward that she wondered why I had been moving the chairs back, looking for space. Now, she understood how large my telling space needed to be. LOL

Comment by Charles "Brother Beno" Myers on January 22, 2011 at 9:21pm
A FUN read and I could see it being told in front of a group with them getting involved. Many places for action.
Comment by Christi U. on December 28, 2010 at 2:47pm
Thank you, Sharon. When I found this one, that's exactly what I thought about too! Have you heard of "Tiger in a teapot"? I had a friend in a storytelling class perform it and she got the whole class involved, with minor costumes for each character until she had a whole line of people up on the stage with her. It was great!
Comment by Sharon V. Wood on December 28, 2010 at 12:16pm

Delightful! This reminds me of the Polish folktale about the gigantic turnip, with a long line of people & animals pulling to loosen it from the ground.What a clever twist to have the mirror-image of fishes pulling in the opposite direction! I love it!

 

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