From Ridicule to Respect: Decolonizing Foodways By Reclaiming the Folktale of Nuliajuk in Indigenous Polar Communities


Sofia Porter Bacon (Nova Southeastern University)

From Alaska to Nunavut, Indigenous peoples are pressured to consume colonizers’ processed foods at outrageous import prices. They face the dilemma of poor nutrition or angry ridicule if they harvest the seals and whales adopted as “flagship species” by Westerners.  I present the folktale of Nuliajuk (Sedna), which is experiencing a resurgence. It not only legitimates consumption of a wide range of sea creatures, but also cultivates respect for sustainable harvesting and hunting.  This reclaimed and revitalized folktale has intergenerational resonance with Gen-X, therefore I include TikTok video, artist renderings, and a comparison of images gleaned from social media.

Part of 11-02 Decolonizing Folklore I, Monday, October 18, 9:30 am–11:00 am