Giant (Alaskan)

(Image: “The Giantess”)

Alaskan Giants, specifically those in the stories of the Point Hope and Netsilik Eskimo, seem to be largely peaceful or even beneficial, despite their great size. They are about as afraid of humans as humans are of them, and prefer to hunt whales and fish and to stay out of human affairs. They are, however, very clumsy. In one story, a giant floods a village and washes fish onto the shore in a whaling incident, causing the residents to become fearful of the giant (Norman 232-234). In another story, a giant foolishly gives a visiting human an adze, only to be killed by the human hours later with the weapon (Norman 225-226).

Since there are several types of giants in Inuit myth, it is difficult to pin down one meaning for them. The first story mentioned above may have been used to explain tidal waves and floods, as well as fish being washed up during these events. However, the second story explores the stupidity of giants, where a human has only to ask to be given a weapon with which to kill the giants. These stupid giants are good targets for stories of monster-slaying heroes, and so may be used to boost the esteem for heroes in the culture.

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