Inupiat Family from Noatak, Alaska, 1929, Edward S. Curtis, Wikipedia photo.
Inupiat Family from Noatak, Alaska, 1929, Edward S. Curtis, Wikipedia photo.

For too long the people asked, “Why do we
Live in troubled times?” My answer, “Such
Times are like polar bear, wandering into our
Camps, when we are not diligent, standing
Ready to kill, trouble attacks.” Polar bear
Worries visited my tent today: Seepa and
Her fevered infant, Anya, its body seizing.

Difficult times stalked us when we ignored
Ancestral ways, lessons taught since childhood.
We had no time, no reflecting moments to
Consider amongst ourselves, to prayerfully
Reflect elder wisdom. Who brought disease
To our tribe? Suspected trespass with another
Tribe, where had the father hunted?

For weeping Seepa and her child, answers
Lay far beyond my tent. As shaman-healer,
I looked to gods of Ellesmere, by chants and
Drum, I forced myself from body, far above
Baffin fiords, upheaval of time, spirit mask
And rattles, ascending to healing hands and
Light, wisdom of ancient muskox paths.

My soul stretched, I approached Holy Breather
At his eternal snow-swept mountains, to save
This small life pure from mortal sin. “For the
Child to live, one must die,” voices stated to
My mind. “One amongst you has strayed from
Our ways.” Glimpses of their vision flashed in
My mind, the father infected with sex disease.

“Another way exists,” I offered, my mind time-
Torn in their presence. In silence of ice-ages,
Ethereal thoughts sprang forth, “For greater
Good, for Seepa and her child, it shall be done,”
Gods agreed. O! Backwards scudding clouds,
Unrising sun, re-phasing of pale moon, time
Fabric rewoven nine months past.

Seeking guidance and blessing, Seepa and her
Man visited my tent, her rounding abdomen,
They listened intently to my teachings, faithful
To young wives, father’s obligations, and when
Seepa did not see, I uncovered my slate-blade
Knife, grey-stone pointed at her man’s side.
“You breathe only because gods permitted.”

Some say that shaman have too much power.
Yet, when I wander fiord beaches on summer
Evenings, I am an old man in pain, vessel to
Gods, for it was not Seepa’s man who was
Given a second chance, but me, to teach our
Traditions in hard ways that they would be
Long remembered, even by knife-point.

Issues and treatment too complex for traditional Inuit medicine, Jacopee
approached the gods to send his people back in time nine months to prevent
Seepa’s family complications. The Arctic is a land of few second chances.
For more on Inuit shaman, see this link:
http://firstpeoplesofcanada.com/fp_groups/fp_inuit5.html 

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