Native Americans
Sedna, Goddess of the Sea

Sedna, Goddess of the Sea
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.4

     challenging words:    bearskin, clearing, ghastly, nothing-no, underworld, reflection, shaman, numb, violent, parka, pecked, seabird, refused, affected, tipping, kayak

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Sedna, Goddess of the Sea
By Cindy Grigg

1      Sedna, the goddess of sea animals, has several names. She is also called Sanna, Nerrivik, Arnarquagssaq, and Nuliajuk. She lives and rules over Adlivun, the Inuit underworld. Her story has several different versions. This is one of them.
2     Sedna lived with her father in the land of ice and snow. Their tent was near the sea. Most of the year, a cold, bitter wind swept across the frozen water and ground. Sedna and her father went hungry when it was too cold to fish.
3     There were two months in the summer when the ice melted. During that time, men from nearby settlements would paddle their kayaks to Sedna's house and ask to marry her. She refused them all. She was very vain and thought she was too beautiful to marry just anyone. "I will wait for someone who is rich, handsome, and very generous," she said.
4     Finally, one day her father said to her, "Sedna, we have no food and we will go hungry soon. You need a husband to take care of you, so the next hunter who comes to ask your hand in marriage, you must marry him." Sedna ignored her father and kept brushing her hair as she looked at her reflection in the water.
5     One day a seabird stopped to rest near Sedna's house. He watched her as she sewed a fur parka. "She is more beautiful than any bird I have seen," he whispered to the wind. "I will ask her to marry me."
6     The bird flew back across the water to his home. He changed his form into a man and made a kayak. He returned to Sedna's house and called to her from the water, "Sedna, come with me to a warmer land. You won't need to work, and you'll sleep in a warm bearskin bed in my fur tent. I am a great hunter, and you'll never be hungry again. My friends the birds will see that you have everything you need."
7     Sedna could see this man was different from the others. He was dressed elegantly in furs. His beaklike nose made him seem more handsome than any of her other suitors. A warm house and bed, lots of food, and a handsome husband were what she wanted.
8     "Daughter, don't be hasty," warned her father. "What do you know about this man? You would be better off as the wife of an Inuit hunter."
9     Sedna didn't listen. She left with the handsome stranger. They paddled to a distant, rocky island. There the winds blew as fiercely as they had around her old home.
10     Sedna looked around. She could see nothing-no sod hut, no tent, just bare rocks and a cliff. The hunter stood before Sedna, and as he pulled down his hood, he let out an evil laugh. Sedna's husband changed back into a bird before her very eyes.
11     She screamed and tried to run, but the bird dragged her to a clearing on the cliff. The fur tent she had been promised was a smelly house made of fish skins. There were cracks and holes everywhere. The wind blew cold inside the house. The bed was a hard mat covered with damp feathers.
12     All day long, the birds fought over each scrap of raw fish. They screeched and pecked at Sedna when she took a piece for herself.

Paragraphs 13 to 26:
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