The Legend of Sedna, Mother of the Sea

It is Sedna who rewards the people of the land with food from the sea. Without Her blessing, hunts fail and the people starve.

Sedna is known as Niviaqsiaq, Talilajuq, Nuliajuk and by many other names. She is the Sea Goddess who drives the walrus and seal to the Inuit and ensures a bountiful hunt. Sedna’s story is one of the most popular Inuit Legends.

The Sedna Tales tell of a willful, strong young woman and a great storm. Long, long ago, when Sedna was a young girl she refused suitors from her own clan, instead Sedna chose a mysterious lover who turned out to be a sea bird in disguise. On hearing what had really happened, her father set out to rescue his rebellious daughter.

Finding Sedna in the nest of the Sea Bird, he spirited her away. Father and daughter began the long journey home in a skin boat. The angry and abandoned sea bird made a great storm to stop them. Fearing the power of the sea bird, the father decided to rid himself of his daughter and threw her into the sea.

Trying to save herself, Senda grasped the sides of the boat and pleaded with her father to pull her back into the boat. The selfish father, fearing for his own life, swung his knife and chopped off her fingers. Sedna fell in to the water and soon sank below the waves and was gone. When Sedna’s fingers fell into the water, they became whales, seals and polar bears, and the nails became whalebone. As the young woman sank into the sea she was transformed into the mystical being known as Sedna, Mother of Oceans and ruler over all life in the Sea.

The blessings of Sedna are still sought by the people of the North, who know it is She who sustains them.