The Boy Who Lived with the Sea Serpents

Limited Edition Giclée on Aluminum

“This happened a long time ago, when humans could still talk to the animals. This was a time when humans were still new to this world, they knew very little about this world that surrounded them.

A man and wife lived in a village not far from here, this couple were not very high in stature. They were not strong speakers or strong singers or dancers. But, they were humble and hard working people. The woman gave birth to a son. How she gave birth was very unusual.

One day, the village was out clam digging. The whole village came together and waded into the water to get to the clam beach across the bay. It was low tide so walking through the water was not very hard. This was the time before we knew what a canoe was, so we walked everywhere. While out in the middle of the bay, the woman, pregnant with child, started to give birth. She was too far from shore to make it back in time. So, she gave birth to a son right there in the water. This was very unusual.

This child was a small, sickly child. Growing up, he was always a small child. He kept to himself mostly, he played by himself, he sang to himself. All his life this young boy had heard a strange song in his head, this is the song he would sing to himself. He would ask his mother and father if they could hear the song in his head, they both said “No.”

Every time the boy would go near the water, the song would get louder. One day, without explanation, the boy walked out of their longhouse and over to the water. Without thinking, he just kept walking, right into the water. In the water, he could hear the song louder and stronger than ever before. He could feel the song pulling him deeper into the water.

Now, in the underwater world, lived the sea serpents. The sea serpents were very fast and very strong. So fast, human eyes cannot see them. Humans can only feel the sea serpents as they move around them. This is where currents come from. As the boy got deeper and deeper into the water, the pulling of the song got stronger. Soon the boy was lead to the village of the sea serpents.

At his village, the boy’s family did not know where he had gone. They looked everywhere. They called out his name. The whole village searched and searched for him. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, but the boy could not be found. The boy’s mother and father offered gifts to the spirits, but still the boy was missing.

Now, the boy was alive and well in the village of the sea serpents, but no one in his village knew this. The leader of the serpents asked, “What are you doing here?”

The boy answered, “I do not know. I heard this song and it led me to your village.”

One of oldest serpents came forward and told the village leader that it was his song that brought this boy to them. He explained that this boy was from the human world, but was born in the underwater world. The elder explained that he was there when the boy was born. In fact, he caught the boy at the moment of his birth and protected him while he was underwater. With his protection, the elder gave the boy some of his spirit power, in the form of the song that the boy kept hearing. That is why he is able to stay alive in the underwater world.

The whole village had a very long meeting about the boy and decided that he could stay. They accepted him and gave him all the knowledge that they had. The boy learned about how the serpents moved under water. How they would move around points that jut out into the water. The boy would look up and see fallen trees moving on the surface of the water and wondered what it would be like to move around on those logs.

This happened over the course of many years. But time is different in the underwater world. Time goes by faster underwater.

Over time, the boy got lonely for his mother and father. He said that he must make his way back to the human world. The elder agreed and told the boy to teach the humans about the sea serpents and how to see their movements on the surface of the water. The boy agreed to this and went back to his village.

He walked into the village, but because time underwater is faster, he had grown up. He had grown from this small frail child into a strong young man. His father and mother did not believe it was their son that had walked into the village. This young man had told the story of the day he was born and of the song he used to hear as a boy. The mother cried out in joy, and the father took him into his arms and held him close. The mother and father said prayers to the spirits, and the village rejoiced. The boy kept his promise to the sea serpents and taught the humans about how the sea serpents moved so fast underwater that they created the currents. He taught them how to see the movements on the surface of the water. He remembered watching the logs moving on the surface and started working on how to use the knowledge.

He would walk into the forest and talk to the trees. He would talk to them about riding them on the water. The trees would soon give the young man the knowledge for building canoes, but that is another story.

So every time, when someone passes down their knowledge about how to steer a canoe on the water or how to look for whirlpools and rips, they are retelling the story of the boy who lived with the sea serpents.”

– Story by Joe Seymour, Jr.