Innu - Fish
An Innu person went fishing but he never caught any fish. Soon he began to starve. He set his hooks under the ice, but when he went to check them, he hadn't caught any fish.
He said to his wife, "I will use our son for bait."
"All right," she replied. "But I'm sure you're gonna kill him."
The Innu man replied, "No, I will not kill him."
And he went to the ice again, and he made a great big hole. Then, he used his son for bait. He put his son under the water. And the fish, when they swam by, they saw the little boy.
The fish told each other, "An Innu is under the water."
The pike said, "I will go to see him. I'll go over there."
And the pike went over to see the Innu boy. He cut the line and took the little boy away.
When the Innu man went back to check his hook, he saw that it had been cut and that his son was gone. He turned back to his home and he said to his wife, "I'm sure I'm killing our son. He's gone. Someone broke the line. Come with me. Come with me to the ice."
They went over to where they had lost their son. The Innu man made the fishing hole even bigger.
"Stand there," he said to his wife. "Stand here and keep the frost from freezing over the hole."
The Innu man walked into the water. He went down under the water and started to look for his son. He saw many fish camps under the water, and he went to each one looking for his son. Each camp he visited, he couldn't find his son. He went to many fish camps, but still he could not find his son.
Finally, he saw a camp in the weeds. He swam over to the camp, and when he went in, he saw his son. He grabbed his son and swam back toward the hole.
The pike saw them escape and shouted, "He's taking the boy! Swim after him! He's taken his son away. Go after him!" The fish went after the man and his son.
The Innu man saw the hole and swam toward it with his son. The fish were right behind him. The man swam very fast, and jumped out of the hole. The fish came out at the same time and landed on the ice. The Innu man, when he came out of the hole at full speed, the water came out too, and the fish went with the water and landed on the ice.
The man said to his wife, "All right, now hit the fish on their heads. Kill them."
And they went home. The man saved the life of his son, and they had some fish to eat as well.
Note: the transcript of this story currently resides in the collection of the Laboratoire d'anthropologie amérindienne in Montreal.
As told by Joe Rich, Utshimassit. Summer 1967
Translated by Matthew Rich