Sedna is known as the
Mother of Sea Beasts. Once she was a human
girl, but now she is a goddess who lives at the
bottom of the sea. This is how it happened.
Sedna did not want to
get married. She rejected all the young men of her
village. But then she fell in love with a dog, and
married him. "This will bring bad
luck," said the rejected young men, who had all
wanted Sedna for themselves. So they took her
out to sea in a boat and pushed her
overboard. Sedna clung to the side of the boat,
but they chopped off her fingers. As the fingers fell
into the sea, they turned into the first seals and
other sea creatures. Sedna sank to the bottom of
the sea, where she became ruler of the Underworld and
mistress of all living things.
Because of the cruel
fate she suffers, Sedna is quick to anger. When
anyone offends her, she shuts away all the beasts, so
that men cannot fish or hunt. Then some daring
man with the special power of a shaman, a priest who
can communicate with the spirits, must make a
perilous descent under the sea to soothe her.
He must venture past the terrible guardians of
Sedna's house, which include a big fierce black dog,
until he reaches Sedna herself.
Now the sins of mankind
fall down through the water, collecting in Sedna's
hair as grease and grime. But because she has no
fingers, she cannot do anything about it. So the
shaman must dress Sedna's filthy hair into two thick
braids, untangling the knots and picking out the
dirt. In gratitude, Sedna frees the beast, and
mankind can eat again.