What happened after Okagit’s successful hunt
All the sons gathered round and helped to skin the bears and pile the meat on the skins. Then they pulled the full skins home. When they reached the village, Ayit was sent to tell others of their success, so they could go to the bone yard and take what Okfagit’s family had left behind.
Traditionally it is not the one who kills a bear who claims it, but the one who sees it first. So, the first bear belonged to Ayit, and the second to his brother. That night Okfagit talked with the two boys about sharing their kills with the rest of the village.
“I think this is what Jesus would want us to do, as this is adding brotherly kindness to our faith. And I also suggest that we give one bear head to the shaman, which is adding God’s unconditional love to our faith.” he said. “You, of course, will keep the skins.”
The boys agreed, so they made a meat package for each of the eight families in the village, including an extra big one for the shaman. In Ayit’s words, “We are adding brotherly kindness for our neighbors, and God’s love to the shaman!”
Okfagit smiled, “You, Ayit, certainly are the add-on Eskimo!” Everyone laughed.
After delivering the meat packages, the family sat in the tent inside their house with the one polar bear head laying on the floor before them. Okfagit spoke.
“As you know, in our old way we would offer the bear fresh water to honor it and appease its spirit. Then we would keep the bear’s head in our tent for five days, telling it stories to make it happy. If it were a male bear, we would put a pipe in its mouth. If it were a female bear, we would be a cloth on its head. But now we are followers of Jesus. So instead of honoring the bears, we will honor Jesus by giving thanks to Him.”
Okfagit led his family in prayer, praising God for bringing the bears to them, for protecting them in the process. He concluded his prayer with, “Jesus, we look to you for protection and provision. We renounce the old ways which are not your ways. Help us to be a light for you here in our village. Use us to bring others out of the darkness into your light.”
When the story of how Okfagit’s family got two polar bears in one day got around the village, it reignited the debate about the New Way Okfagit was following.
Some said the attack of the second bear was punishment for him leaving the old way. Others said, that finding the bears, being saved from the attack of the second bear, and being able to kill both was proof of the power of the Jesus Way.
The shaman declared that he had sent the second bear to punish Okfagit. “But,” another pointed out, “the attack was a failure, showing Jesus to be more powerful.”
The elders called a meeting to talk about it, asking Okfagit to speak first and tell them about the hunt.
“Before going to hunt, I prayed to Jesus and asked him to help me, to bring me to a polar bear. I thanked him for what he would do. Then as we were going, I got the idea to go by the bone yard, and there was a polar bear. I believe Jesus guided me to it, just as he brought the whale to me. And I believe Jesus protected me from the second bear. You know how hard it is to avoid the charge of such an angry bear, yet Jesus helped me, and gave us two bears. Jesus is the Creator God, who loves us, hears our prayers and helps us. He is the one to follow.”
Many heads were nodding. But the shaman angrily declared, “This New Way is not the Eskimo way. If we follow it, many bad things will come to us.”
One elder replied, “As you know, many seasons ago on Sivukuk, the time of hungering came, and many hundreds of our people died. We are told that the spirits brought this hungering because they were angry with some hunters who did not show them respect. I’m sure the shamans tried to get help from the spirits, but none came. Only a few survived.
“Living in the old way brought much harm to us. This New Way, following Jesus, seems to me to be the right way. I choose to follow him!” Others also declared their desire to follow Jesus.
When the meeting was over, Okfagit invited all who wanted to follow the new Way to come to his house to learn more about Jesus.
Over the next few days he and Ayit taught these new believers the 23rd Psalm and explained it to them. Ayit also taught them the “add-on” passage so they could deepen their faith.
After that the believers followed Okfagit’s example and called Ayit, “The Add-on Eskimo,” a nick name that stuck with him all his life; and he was glad to have it.
The grumbling, however, went on among those who opposed the new Way and they became more and more unhappy with those who chose to follow Jesus.
Picture: Walrus Tusk carved into a polar bear.