In Inuit mythology, Sedna was the Mother and Mistress of the Sea. The tale of Sedna, which is a creation myth, describes how she came to rule over Adlivun, the Underworld. As the goddess of sea and marine animals, it is she who blesses fishermen with bounty or curses them with naught.
In one particular version of her legend, Sedna is a beautiful maiden who rejects many marriage proposals from the hunters of her own village. When an unknown hunter appears from afar, Sedna’s father agrees to give her to him as a wife in exchange for fish. To seal the marriage, Sedna’s father gives her a sleeping potion and gives her to the hunter who takes her to a large nest that resides atop a cliff. It is there that the hunter reveals that he is a great bird-spirit.
Although her father attempts to rescue her, the bird-spirit becomes angry and causes a great storm. In desperation and in fear for his own life, Sedna’s father sacrifices her to the raging sea. While attempting to cling to the kayak, her hands freeze and her fingers fall off. Her body parts become the creatures of the sea as she falls to the bottom of the sea and grows a fishtail.
In another version of the myth, Sedna is the giant daughter of the creator-god Anguta. Her hunger is so great that it causes her to attack her parents. Angered by this behaviour, Anguta takes her out to the sea and throws her over the side of his kayak. As she clings to the sides for dear life, Anguta chops off her fingers. She then sinks to the underworld and becomes the ruler of the monsters who reside in the deep blue sea. Her enormous fingers become the seals and the whales that are hunted by the Inuit.
It is said that if people want to hunt in the ocean, they must appease Sedna and pray for her to release the sea creatures in her domain and in her grasp.