In the very earliest time
When both people and animals lived on earth
A person could become an animal if he wanted to
and an animal could become a human being.
Sometimes they were people
and sometimes animals
and there was no difference.
All spoke the same language
That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
and what people wanted to happen could happen–
all you had to do was say it.
Nobody could explain this:
That’s the way it was.
— Nalungiaq, Inuit woman interviewed by ethnologist Knud Rasmussen in the early twentieth century.