The Inupiat people, an indigenous group native to Alaska, have a rich and complex belief system that has been passed down through generations. As part of the larger Inuit culture, their mythology and rituals revolve around a deep connection with their environment and the natural world. This article aims to provide an overview of the beliefs, mythology, and rituals of the Inupiat people, with a focus on deities, their personalities, and stories. We will also highlight unique beliefs specific to this culture.


  • Sedna (or Nuliajuk): Sedna is a central figure in Inupiat mythology, often referred to as the "Mother of the Sea" or the "Sea Goddess." She is responsible for the abundance of marine life, which is crucial to the survival of the Inupiat people. Sedna's story revolves around her transformation from a mortal woman to a goddess after her father threw her overboard during a storm. Her fingers, severed during the ordeal, became the various marine creatures. Inupiat hunters honor and appease Sedna through rituals to ensure a successful hunt.

  • Sila: Sila, also known as Pinga, is the personification of the air, wind, and weather. As a deity, Sila is believed to govern the elements and plays a crucial role in determining the welfare of the Inupiat people. Sila is often depicted as a giant or a powerful spirit and is sometimes considered a supreme being. Respecting and honoring Sila is essential for maintaining balance and harmony within the environment.

  • Raven: The raven is a central figure in Inupiat mythology, often portrayed as a trickster or a shapeshifter. This multifaceted character is attributed with both wisdom and mischief, as well as the ability to bring light to the world. The raven is an important symbol of transformation, creation, and the interconnectedness of all living things.

Mythological Figures

  • Amarok: The Amarok, or Amaroq, is a gigantic wolf that is believed to roam the Arctic lands. It is said to prey on hunters who venture too far from their villages, serving as a reminder of the dangers of the harsh environment. Amarok also plays a protective role, keeping the balance by hunting down and devouring evil spirits that threaten the community.

  • Tizheruk: The Tizheruk is a serpent-like sea monster that inhabits the waters around Alaska. It is said to have a long, snake-like body, a large head, and sharp teeth. The Tizheruk is both feared and respected by the Inupiat people, who believe that encounters with this creature may lead to misfortune or death.

  • Kiviuq: Kiviuq is an Inupiat hero who is featured in numerous stories and legends. He is known for his incredible strength, intelligence, and resilience. Kiviuq's adventures involve overcoming various challenges and defeating supernatural beings, often with the help of animal spirits. His exploits are a testament to the Inupiat people's resourcefulness and connection with the natural world.

Unique Beliefs

One unique belief in the Inupiat culture is the concept of "inua," which refers to the idea that all living beings have a spiritual essence or soul. This belief extends not only to humans and animals but also to inanimate objects such as rocks, rivers, and even tools. Inupiat people believe that treating these entities with respect is essential to maintain balance and harmony in the world. Inua is a vital component of Inupiat spirituality, as it underscores the interconnectedness of all things and the importance of living in harmony with the natural world.

Another unique belief is the concept of "tuurngait," which are supernatural entities or spirits that can possess both humans and animals. These spirits are generally considered dangerous and malevolent, often causing misfortune or illness to those they possess. Inupiat shamans, known as "angakkuq," play a crucial role in dealing with tuurngait, using their spiritual powers to identify, communicate with, and expel these spirits from afflicted individuals.


  • Nalukataq: The Nalukataq is a traditional Inupiat whaling festival that takes place in the summer. This event celebrates the successful completion of the whaling season and is an opportunity for the community to come together to share food, dance, and engage in various games. The Nalukataq serves as a way to honor the whales and other marine animals that have provided sustenance to the Inupiat people, as well as to give thanks to the deities for their blessings.

  • Qagruq: The Qagruq is a ritual performed by Inupiat hunters to appease the soul of a hunted animal, particularly that of a whale. The purpose of this ritual is to ensure that the animal's spirit is treated with respect and gratitude so that it may return to the sea and be reborn. The Qagruq involves prayers, songs, and offerings made to the animal's spirit, and it emphasizes the Inupiat belief in the interconnectedness of all living things.

  • Shamanic practices: Inupiat shamans, or angakkuq, play a vital role in the community, acting as intermediaries between the human world and the spiritual realm. They possess the ability to communicate with the spirits, heal the sick, and protect the community from malevolent forces. Shamanic rituals often involve the use of drums, chanting, and dancing to enter altered states of consciousness, which allow the angakkuq to connect with the spirit world and seek guidance or intervention from deities and other spiritual beings.