Uiluruyak

Variations: Wi’-lû-ghó-yûk, Sea Shrew-mouse, Sea Shrew

Uiluruyak is the Yupik word for the meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius). Hunters say it may be encountered on the sea-ice of Alaska. Nelson interprets the name as “wi’-lû-ghó-yûk” and describes it as a sea shrew.

When a uiluruyak sees someone, it darts at them with blinding speed, piercing through the sole of their boot and crawling all over their body underneath the clothes. If the victim stands perfectly still, the uiluruyak will leave by the same hole it entered; not only that, but those who have earned its approval in this way go on to become successful hunters.

If one should move even slightly while the uiluruyak is exploring, the rodent immediately burrows into its victim’s flesh, piercing their heart and killing them.

It is recommended that one stand perfectly quiet and still when seeing a mouse on the ice, just in case it is a uiluruyak.

References

Jacobson, S. A. ed. (2012) Yup’ik Eskimo Dictionary, v. I. Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Nelson, E. W. (1900) The Eskimo about Bering Strait. Extract from the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office, Washington.

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