Ootnik and The Polar Bear

Ootnik was a young Eskimo who enjoyed the peaceful contentment of his life. He was happy as long as he had a warm igloo, food over the fire, and his kayak to paddle on crisp arctic mornings. His only regret was that he could not sing.

This was quite a problem for him. He longed to be able to express his adventures in song, yet no voice would come to him. It was the young Eskimo’s belief that a voice had to come to a person and sit in his mouth before he could sing.

Thus it went, everyday Ootnik would try to sing, and everyday he would end up feeling dejected.

One morning, as Ootnik was sitting in his kayak contemplating simple things, he noticed a large animal drifting on a sheet of ice in the water. The animal wasn’t moving. Being a curious fellow, Ootnik approached the animal to investigate.

As he got nearer though, he realized that what he was approaching was a great, big, polar bear! This made
Ootnik wary, so he decided to observe from the water.

After watching for a while, he noticed that the bear hadn’t moved for quite some time. Cautiously the Eskimo stepped out of his kayak onto the ice and went to the bear. Ootnik could now tell that the bear was very old and dying. Its breathing was quite laboured.

“Hello old fellow” said Ootnik sympathetically.

The aged bear looked up with sorrowful eyes, once full of life and passion, but now only pleading.

“Please,” said the bear, wheezing, “I must taste one last fish before I die.”

Ootnik looked at the pathetic creature. He would get him a fish.

Ootnik went to the shoreline and said “Hello little fishes, how are you today? Would you please let me spear you so I can take you to my friend the bear? He’s really a nice fellow and would love to taste one last fish before he dies.”

Shortly, Ootnik was able to coax a fish into being caught and took it back to the bear.

“Thank you” whispered the bear, who then happily munched on the fish.

It was such a simple gesture for Ootnik, and yet it made the bear so happy.

The bear then died and Ootnik left with a tear in his eye.

That night, when Ootnik was eating with his family, he suddenly sprang up onto the table and burst into song. The voice was so strong and spirited, that he knew it must have come from the bear. And never before had such a beautiful song been heard under the Arctic skies.

Thank you!” responded Ootnik.

Michael Highstead


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