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Native American Legends

Moon rapes his Sister Sun

An Eskimo Legend

In the old days, when everything began, a brother lived with his sister in a large village which had a dance house. At night it was lit with stone lamps burning seal oil, and once the sister was dancing and singing there when a big wind blew all the lamps out.

While everything was black, a man copulated with her. She struggled against him, but he was too strong, and it was too dark to see who he was.

Thinking he might come again, before she went back there next she blackened the palms of her hands with soot.

Again a great gust of wind blew out all the lamps. Again that man threw her upon her back, got on top of her, and entered her. But this time she smeared his back with soot.

When the lamps were rekindled, she looked for the one with a sooty back and was enraged to see that it was her brother.

She cried, "Such things are not done! Such things are unheard of!" She was so angry that she took a sharp knife and cut off both her breasts. Flinging them at her brother, she cried, "As you seem to enjoy me, as you seem to have a taste for my body, eat these!"

She grabbed a brightly burning torch and, maddened and wild-eyed, ran out of the dance house into the dark night.

Her brother snatched up another torch and ran after her, but stumbled and fell down in the snow. The snow put out the flames of his torch so that only its embers flickered feebly.

Then a big windstorm lifted both the sister and her brother high up into the sky. The girl was turned into the sun, and her brother into the moon. She stays as far away from him as she can. As long as the moon shines, she hides herself, coming out only after he is gone. If the brother had not let his torch fall into the snow, the moon would be as bright as the sun.

- Retold from four nineteenth-century sources.

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