Awesome Octopus Stories


The Woman and the Octopus

As told by the Eyak Indians

Once there was a woman who went out picking blueberries with her child.  While she was standing about berry picking, something interfered with her.

Something grabbed her foot.  Something interfered with her foot, and she said, "What's this clinging to my foot?"  She looked at it.  It was an octopus sitting there.  "What are you doing?" she said to it.  "Long-Fingers," she called it, and it immediately wrapped itself around her.  It wrapped itself around her and started dragging her down toward the shore.  She cried out, but who was there to hear her?  There was no one to hear her because she was alone with her child.  The child wailed for her mother. She said, "It's taking me to the water!"  As it dragged her away into the water, she said go child, "Go home.  Tell what has happened to me, that the octopus has wrapped itself around me.  Tell my uncles of me.  This is already my last breath."

Nothing happened to that woman.  The octopus dragged her into the water and it turned into a man with her.  He took her into the house, a big house.  It was probably a chamber under a rock, but in her eyes it was a house.  The octopus married her and she lived with him.

He would always go hunting for all kinds of things, fish, anything, which she would eat.  When he caught a seal, he would lie down on top of it and cook it.  That's how he cooked them, by lying down on top of them, and she ate them.  Cockles, all those kinds of things too, he would cook them that way, by lying over them and right away they would start to cook.

Some time after that the woman's brothers were traveling along in their boat.  The woman was sitting on a rock, a skerry.  The octopus had gone hunting and she had climbed up onto a skerry and was sitting on it when her brothers saw her.  "There she is, our sister, sitting on a skerry there."  They landed by her and said, "It's time to come with us. That's enough of living with him.  You've been missing a long time already."

She said, "Let me stay here a little while yet.  Let me stay here a little while yet.  Your brother-in-law will hunt for you," she said to them.  So they let her stay there.  They went back without her.  Only she did say this, "You'll come back here sometime, won't you?" she said to her brothers, and they went back without her.

The octopus came back and she said to him, "Your brothers-in-law came here to get me.  I said to them, "Let me stay here a little while yet.  Your brother-in-law will hunt for you," that's what I said to them.  That's why they let me be here."  He must have been a big octopus, her husband.

Then he said to his wife, "You had better tell them that they must not kill me, your brothers.  Let them not kill me.  Killing things is all they have on their minds."

"Yes, I'll tell them that, that you'll help them when you see them," said the woman to the octopus.

That woman had gotten to know him.  In fact, she had gotten quite used to the octopus.  She had octopus-babies, two of them.  Octopus young.

Then he said to her, "We'll go there.  We'll go to my brothers-in-law.  Take those babies of yours."  He had become a person, he wasn't an octopus.  They arrived there and she said, "Where's that octopus you were saying had taken me away?  He's a person.  He has become a man."  He lived with him.

Then one day he went out to sea.  He made a mistake.  He fought with this whale.  The whale got the better of him.  It killed him.  The whale killed the octopus.

After that she went back to his sisters for a last visit, along with her brothers.  She didn't stay alive long after that.  She soon died.

The young octopuses, however, grew big and went into the water.  After their mother died they went into the sea.  They said, "We'll get revenge on that whale for our father.  We'll kill him."  After their mother died they went and fought  with the whale, those children.  They killed that big whale for their mother's brothers.  That big whale, they killed it for their uncles.

After that, they went to sea for good.  They never came back.  Their uncles never knew where they went.

    That's all.


This story was retold in the book, Northern Tales by Howard Norman, on pages 302-304


Old Stormalong and the Octopus
retold by
S. E. Schlosser

One day Old Stormalong, the ultimate sailor, was sailing the Courser through the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean when a particularly large wave knocked the anchor loose. The anchor plunged right down to the bottom before the sailors could reel her in, and it got caught on something. The big ship lurched to a halt and the sailors rushed hither and thither, back and forth trying to figure out how to shake the anchor loose.

Finally, Old Stormalong pushed the sailors aside and gave the anchor a tug himself. But that anchor was stuck firm, and the sailors begged Stormie not to pull at it again, because they were afraid that he would wrench a hole in the bottom of the world and all the water would spill out into space. So Old Stormalong he decided to go down to the depths to see if he could unhook the anchor from whatever it was tangled to.

Taking a knife between his teeth, Old Stormalong dove into the water. For a few minutes nothing happened. Then the waters below the massive ship began to bubble and churn. The waves grew higher and higher until the ship was tossed around like a rubber duck in the bathtub. Even the old sailors grew seasick and clutched the rail, groaning aloud. After a few minutes the waves started to calm, and then Old Stormalong popped his head out of the water. "She's good to go, boys. Hoist anchor!" he shouted.

Old Stormalong climbed aboard while his men hoisted the giant anchor. As soon as they caught their breath, the sailors asked their captain why the anchor had gotten stuck on the bottom.

"It was a giant octopus playing games down in one of the canyons," Old Stormie explained. "It took a-hold of the anchor with four legs and was using the other four to hold onto the bottom of the sea."

"How did you get the anchor loose?" asked the first mate.

"Well, I just arm-wrestled the old whale-bait until it shouted for mercy and then tied its arms into double carrick bends. It will take the better part of the month for all the knots to come undone."