The akhlut is a creature from Inuit myth, a monstrous wolf that can take the shape of an orca. However, I haven't been able to find this word in any reliable Inuktitut dictionaries (looking for akhlut, akłut, or ak&ut—since ł is hard to type on American keyboards, it's often written hl, lh, or &).

Where does this creature's name come from?

1 Answer 1


Found two Yupik dictionaries but neither had 'akhlut'. Then found the article below:



Other Names Kăk-whăn'-û-ghăt Kǐg-û-lu'-nǐk

Origin Yupik

Location Ice floes around the Bering Sea

Disposition Malevolent

Akhlut are shapeshifting spirits from Yupik myth. They appear as either orcas or as wolves, and live among ice floes around the Bering Strait. They are often depicted as a hybrid between an orca and a wolf.

Appearance In the original folklore, akhlut were gigantic orcas who could shapeshift into equally massive wolves to hunt on land.[1] In traditional art they are usually depicted in mid transformation, with the features of both wolves and whales.[2] Most modern interpretations portray them as creatures that are perpetually half wolf, half orca rather than shapeshifters. They are generally amphibious. An occasional variant of the creature appears as a beluga whale, and can transform into a reindeer to traverse on land. It is unclear whether this variation is carnivorous or not.[2]

Behavior Akhlut are known for their ferocity, and they hunt humans and animals alike. When hungry, they become wolves and run across the land searching for prey. Once they have eaten their fill, they return to the water and assume their orca forms once more.[3] Wolf tracks leading to or from the ocean are an indicator that the animal may be nearby.[1][2]

Anthropological information Nelson (The Eskimo About Bering Strait) claims that the creature is called Kăk-whăn'-û-ghăt Kǐg-û-lu'-nǐk, and in orca form it is known as akh'-lut, and in wolf form as kǐg-û-lu’-nǐk.[2] These may be mistranslations or alternate dialects, as the central Yupik romanizations for "orca" and "wolf" are "arrlug" and "kegg'luner" respectively[4]. It's unclear what the word "Kăk-whăn'-û-ghăt" might mean. At any rate, it appears the name these creatures are most well known by is simply a corruption of the Yupik word for "orca".

  • Ahh, it's Yupik! That explains a lot. I don't have a dictionary on hand, but in modern Central Yupik, the sounds that used to be written "kh" are now written "gg" and "rr".
    – Draconis
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 16:22
  • Don't know if it is helpful, but also came across: uaf.edu/anlc/resources/yupik-inuit Comparative Yupik and Inuit by Lawrence Kaplan
    – tblue
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 16:38

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