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Native American Legends

Being still at night

An Eskimo Legend

Somewhere in the village, there was a room full of children who never ceased to make a ruckus as night fell, Grandma Kipo said as she held one of her grandchildren in her lap. Seated on the floor, the other grandchildren closed in at her feet, straining their ears to hear her tell the same story at the campsite. All was still outside the tent, the river making its rippling sound about 30-feet away. We were up the river, it was summer, and there was food gathering to be done.

"All the children were making a lot of noise, hollering, running, and the night was near," she said. "It was getting dark outside and it was time to sleep, but these children didn't mind their parents. They played on."

The parents were on a hunting trip, and Grandma Kipo had to take care of the children, which is what many grandparents did in the old days.

"All of as sudden, the door of the house flew open and a ball of fire hit the walls," she almost whispered in Inupiaq. "All of the children grew frantic and they all cowered in one corner."

The children moved closer at her feet, all wanting to be held. "The ball of fire bounced from one corner to another, and the children cried out and they hugged each other because they were scared," she went on.

"That ball of fire broke through the door because the children didn't listen to their parents when they were told it was time to go to sleep."

The children took their rightful places on the floor of the tent, and remained silent until they fell fast asleep.

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