After Ahiahia’s parents are murdered in their igloo, he is raised by his loving grandmother, who teaches him the traditional ways of his people and makes his clothing out of animal skins. To keep him safe, she performs a protective chant over his dog, as well as the clothing, the necklace of amulets, and the bows and arrows that she has constructed for him.
When enemies in the camp attack Ahiahia, he is able to evade their arrows with amazing gymnastics and grace. Eventually, though, the villagers’ arrows connect. As he stands up, full of arrows, the villagers run away, recognizing that he is protected and they are unable to kill him. Ahiahia captures two of the female villagers, proclaiming that they will now be his wives, and they stay in the igloo with his grandmother. No further harm comes to Ahiahia for the rest of his days, thanks to his hunting prowess, the traditional lessons of his grandmother, and her protective chants.
This ancient Inuit tale from the Kugaaruk region in Nunavut is given new life in graphic novel format by Levi Illuitok and illustrator Nate Wells.
The narrative moves along at a quick pace, helped by Wells’s expressive illustrations. Inuit culture infuses the story, as well as the graphics – from the scenery to the clothing to grandmother’s facial tattoo.
Sharing stories that the ancestors told – of traditions, myths, and legends – keeps the culture alive and demonstrates the power of kinship, relationships, and survival. In this story, the animal skin clothing – among other things – maintains its spirit; the grandmother has the knowledge and love necessary to create protection for her grandson. As is the case with many Iegends, the moral and lessons of the story are ones that readers can sit with, think about, and interpret for themselves.