The Dwarf People – An Eskimo Folktale
Posted on: October 16, 2018.

Pik-mik-tal-ik was a large village in the Land of the Eskimo People, and this story is set in a time long before even the white people had discovered the land.

Who should be seen, one winter day, coming on the ice down the river, much to the surprise of the natives, but a male dwarf wearing a coat made of a single white fox skin, and a female dwarf wearing a coat made from the skins of two white hares. Both dwarfs were each about two cubits tall, and the female dwarf had with her a baby boy clothed in two muskrat skins, and not more than the length of an adult’s forearm!

A sled—bigger than any the villagers used, and heavily loaded with various articles—was being dragged by the male dwarf. As if this wasn’t a surprising enough display of strength for a male dwarf, the trio reached the shore below the village, and, at length, the male dwarf drew the sled up the steep river bank and taking it by the rear end, hoisted it on its frame, a feat which would have required the strength of many villagers!

One of the households there welcomed the couple inside. The male dwarf, seeming entirely at home and friendly, took his place among the other men, and this small family remained in the village for some time.

The male dwarf’s little son, whom he was very fond of, was savagely bitten by a dog one day, while the child was playing outside the house. Overcome first with great sorrow and then inconsolable anger, the aggrieved father-dwarf caught the dog by the tail and struck it violently against a post, killing it instantly.

Subsequently, the father-dwarf, after making a handsome, carved grave-box for his son and laying the child with his toys in it to rest in peace, went into his house and did no work and saw no one for four days. After the last day of mourning, the father-dwarf took his sled and retreated up the river with his wife on their old trail. The villagers, having come to like the pair very much, especially the male dwarf for his gentle manners, sorrowfully watch them depart.

However, the male dwarf had inspired a few changes in the practices of the people…

…the villagers usually made the body of their sleds from long strips of wood running lengthwise, but, after seeing the male dwarf’s sled made with many crosspieces, they adopted that model.

…the villagers usually cast their dead out on the tundra to be devoured by the dogs and wild beasts, but after seeing the male dwarf bury his son in a coffin made from carved wood, along with his toys, and observe four days of mourning, they adopted that tradition.

Hunters returning at dusk, and looking towards the darkening tundra, would sometimes see male dwarfs carrying bows and arrows, but they would disappear into the ground if someone tried to approach them. They were harmless people, never intending to injury anyone.

Deer hunters would often seen their tracks near the foot of the mountains, but no one has ever been able to speak to these male dwarfs since the time they left the village.

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