Baby big mouth

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Translated from Cup’ig on Nunivak Island, Alaska

Many years ago when the world was still young, a story came originating from the Nome area. It was a time when people lived inside sod houses. Ancient traditions were used.

It was at the time when ancient traditions were used such as when a couple married and bore children, every night seal oil was applied on around their child’s mouth. It was a tradition before going to bed that seal oil was applied on their infant’s lips.

Their traditional living continued, and the community had a successful hunter as a resident as well. The successful hunter’s commands were immediately obeyed. Successful hunters were heroes. Everything was simple for them, anything to do with hunting as well as being able to secure any animal. He was considered a leader of the community.

As the story continues, the successful hunter’s daughter bore a child and practiced the ancient tradition. She was the leader’s daughter. Therefore, her sleeping location was on the upper bedding area. One night she did not apply any seal oil on her infant’s mouth and went to sleep.

Her parents fell asleep and were awakened by a noise. It sounded as though something was eating. It made heavy slurping sounds.

He was now roused. The sound appeared to be coming from his daughter’s sleeping area, from above, so he slowly rose to see, and found that the infant child was eating its mother. The infant child grew a mouth that stretched from ear to ear, it also grew teeth. The child had started eating its mother beginning from the breast area. It was on the verge of completely eating the entire upper body.

It was then that the inhabitants of the sod house started cautiously moving out of the house. The village was alerted and awakened. Then the village was deserted because the residents fled to the mountains. The residents escaped and hid under bushes, when their successful hunter said, “I have forgotten my knife inside my house!” (Metal knives were rare during that time.) He was looking for a volunteer to get it. A reward was also being provided to the volunteer.

When he didn’t get a volunteer, one successful hunter had the urge to go, so he made preparations to leave. He went down to the village using their escape trail, and finally arrived at the house. The residents of the village acknowledged that the village acquired an eye, therefore, it was abandoned. When the word was being spread, the infant child exited from the far end of the village. It now used its diapers for transportation. (During that time, walrus and seal stomachs were made into diapers.) It traveled in a prone position and did so very fast, using its diaper as if it were a sled. It then went into the next sod house.

The successful hunter then ran as fast as he could down to the house and entered. Quickly, he grabbed the knife that his partner had talked about. As he turned around to exit, the infant child had already arrived. It was already inside the entrance tunnel and could be heard.

(The entrance tunnels were dug into the ground and located almost in the middle of the sod house.) He immediately jumped up onto the entrance tunnel’s ledge. This occurred during the summertime. The infant child made its way into the house using its diaper for a sled, as though it were a bobsled in a prone position.

His pursuer, the infant child, was quickly chasing him using the scent left behind by the hunter. The infant child pursued without knowing where the successful hunter had severed his scent from the caribou trail. It continued moving forward using scents on that caribou trail. When it made sharp gasps, boulders shot out from the earth landing and protruding upright. Some became mountains.

My memory is at a loss from here, so this is where the story ends.


Ak’a awani man’a ella tutnengyugallrani qulirertangqellrurlliniur qiini Nome-am neggran’i. Kiiyami cuut katurrluteng wiitatullratni. Tamkuneg ciuliaqatut piciryarratneg pitangqellrulliniur.

Ciuliaqatugtar atullemegni ukatmun, kuten tan’gurangaqaameng aapaqelzrig, qetunrateg atakuner tamalkuan taqukat uqitneg qanrit mingugtarluki pitullrulliniat. Tawaten piciryaraqluku atakuni inarciiqiaraqameng piipimeng qanrit cenait uqurteqaarrarluki qawaraqlut’eng.

Tawaten piaqnginanermegni nukalpiartangqerrluteng taukut nun’at. Nunam taukut ataneqluk’i. Tamakut qanraqata maligtetuluki can’eg. Nukalpiat pilzgulliuluteng. Cat tamalkuan qacikluku pissuryaraller cali piculiulut’eng. Nunat taukut ukisqertekluk’u.

Piyalzriameng tauna nukalpiartam pania qetunrang’ami tawatnatulliniluk’u. Atanrem panikngani pikani qulliini ingellritni qawarwingqerrlun’i. Atakut ill’itni piipini tauna uqurtevkenaku qanran cen’i qawallinilut’eng.

Tawaten imkug angayuqag aqarrarluteg tupagtug, naken imna niugtelzria. Tawarpiar cameg nerelzriatun piluni. Mecartaqluni mecartuluni.
Tawaten pinginanertnini qetunermi tungiineg pingalan pakmaken iirarturluku iirarra maaten, imna pania taum piipiran nerrliniki. Qanenglliniluni tauna piipir ciuteg’ni qengelkellukeg keggullwagneg-llu keggutengllinilun’i. Aanami muuga ayagneqluku nerrliniluk’u. Ak’a qatgai nangniaralli.

Tawa-llu irturluteng taukut enem cui ikgarluteng an’urallinilut’eng, nunat taukut tupagqelluki. Nut’an cuirulluki qimalliniluteng pawawet ingrinun. Qimagluteng pawawet uqvit akulitnun enkeggluteng pillratni, Nukalpiarat qanlliniur, “Tarr’i-ggur enminun tawawet luussini unitellinik’i!” (Cavv’it nurnarwallratni tamaani.) Aqvastaaturluku-llu tawa’a. Aqvasti nunulirkauluku tauna.

Pistengevkenani piyalzria, nukalpiat ill’it tauna alegyung’ami ell’i uptelliniur. Tum’igteggun ketvalliniluni ena tauna tekilluk’u. Ingniluteng taukut nunat cuirutliniut. Ingniluni pillrani imna tan’gurayarer nunat iquitneg anlliniur imkug makuagni ikamraqsagutellinilukeg. (Tamaani kaugpit taqukat-llu aqsauqritneg makalitullratni, tawa-ggur etruiliciluk’i.) Palurmi ayagartaqami cukarwarluni ayagaqluni taukug ikamraqlukeg makagni. Anrarluni tungeqlianun itliniur tayima.

Nut’an-llu nukalpiar aqvaqurluni ketvauksakarluni enmun tawawet. Tamaana qanrutkellra luussir tegurrarluku watmun piciqiallrani ak’a qakma laataalliniur imna tauna tan’gurayarer. Ak’a-llu iterluni cakmai amignun.

(Tamaakut iteryarat laagumaluteng enet qukasarpiaqiikun pitullrut.) Tawaggun lagyakun quumigluku qulliinun ellgartelliniur. Kigullrani kanani iluyarami itralliniur ka’a imna tan’gurayarer taukug etruilitagni ikamraqlukeg waayaraqlukeg palurmi.

Mangllegaqanamta-llu-ggur man’a nuna uuleglluni pirr’arluni maani cugallutarpit taq’urnaurtut illait-llu ingriurqelluteng.

Tayima tawawet nulluqeraqa qanengssika tawawet iqungqertur.

Upaguar and Other Cup’ig Stories is a work in progress. It will be available with Simian Editions Press.

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