Kukuweaq (Ten-Legged Polar Bear)

(Image: Shadowulf1, “Kukuweaq”)

Kukuweaq is a ten-legged polar bear in the legends of the Barrow Inuit. Living in a large glacier wider at the top than the bottom, it hunts seals and four-legged polar bears and keeps the leftovers in a frigid pool of water in the glacier. Based on one description, the kukuweaq may be larger than most polar bears, although it is possible that the only difference is the extra legs. It is also mainly aquatic like the seals it hunts, preferring not to come out of the water. However, it is possible to blind the creature by stabbing its eyes, which will incapacitate it completely, granting a large amount of food to a family in times of trouble (Norman 239-240).

It is likely that the first instance of a kukuweaq in legend was after someone claimed to have seen one, but this person most likely actually noticed a mother and its cubs from far away and imagined them as one body, or was hallucinating and saw multiple legs on a normal polar bear. However, believing that the kukuweaq existed, along with its store of frozen food in its iceberg, might have given hunters more of a motive to investigate these places.


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