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The boy with enormous nostrils

An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown

One day a young boy, Kautyayuq, went out with his older sister to carry home a seal that had been killed. While they were searching, the ice they were walking on broke up, and they floated farther and farther away from their home. Days later, the ice brought them to a settlement. The people there took them in, but only grudgingly, and they were treated with cruelty.

Kautyayuq's sister was allowed to sit inside the ice-house, but was forced to braid rope constantly, until all the flesh was worn off her fingers and only bones remained. (She disappears from the story at this point; in some versions, she never exists).

Kautyayuq himself was never allowed inside: he had to sit in the entryway, where it was very cold, and sleep outside with the dogs. Whenever the people decided to give him food, two big women would stick their fingers in his nostrils and drag him through the entryway until his head was just inside the house. Then they would only feed him walrus skin. In time, his nostrils grew enormous because of this treatment, and sometimes the people would drag him around in this way, just for amusement.

One evening when Kautyayuq was shivering inside the entryway, the people heard three polar bears prowling around the settlement. "This is our chance to get rid of this nuisance forever," they said to each other. They forced Kautyayuq outside where the bears were, certain that he would be devoured.

But when Kautyayuq was outside, the Moon Man came down from the sky and began to beat him. The Moon Man was beating all of the weakness out of Kautyayuq, and when he was done, Kautyayuq started to grow larger and larger. He grew so huge that he killed all three bears with his hands alone.

Then he killed all of the people in the settlement except two. These were the big women who had dragged him into the house when he was fed. He kept them alive so that he could mistreat them as they had mistreated him.

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