A myth told by traditional people across the Arctic describes a totemic marriage between a woman and a beluga whale. A young maiden left her village one day searching for bird eggs, and returned with a whale skull which she wore like a hat. The spirit in the skull eventually pulled her out to sea where it turned into a beluga whale, named Keiko, who made the woman his wife. The woman''s brother was bound to preserve his family honor so he built a boat and sailed out to rescue her. Keiko became frightened when the boat stopped directly over his home. His wife had grown fond of him, and now she tried to calm Keiko. She swam to the cliffs to gather eggs and birds for a feast to serve their guest. The brother ate little, while beckoning Keiko to eat more than his share. Finally, the brother whispered to his sister, 'your husband has eaten too much. Sing to him now, that he may rest.' So she sang a lullaby, and Keiko slept. When the whale awoke, he saw his wife was gone. He followed the boat''s wake, and soon caught up to the pair on the village shore where many people arrived to stab Keiko to death.
The woman eventually gave birth to a tiny whale who was much beloved by everyone in the tribe. She kept him in a little cup. But he grew quickly and soon asked to be put into a pail. Finally he pleaded to be set free into the ocean, where he quickly grew to a full-sized whale. One night strangers arrived who killed the whale for food. In the Yakut Siberian version of the myth, the tribe responds to this murder by attacking the strangers.
This story is told to explain how warfare first came to the human beings. In a version from Hudson Bay, the strangers were the first European whalers.