Hama was a waterbending master from the Southern Water Tribe. She was captured and imprisoned by the Fire Nation during the Southern Water Tribe raids, but she eventually escaped through the use of bloodbending, a waterbending technique she developed while incarcerated. Upon her escape, she fled to a small town in the Fire Nation, where she became an innkeeper. In the Fire Nation town, Hama vented her hatred of the Fire Nation by imprisoning villagers in a mountain.
In her youth, Hama was very close friends with Kanna, the grandmother of Sokka and Katara. For years, Hama was one of many waterbenders residing in the Southern Water Tribe; however, when she was a young adult, the Fire Nation began raiding the Southern Water Tribe, systematically weakening it by capturing waterbenders with hit-and-run attacks. Hama and her fellow waterbenders did everything they could to resist the ruthless firebending army and even managed to freeze at least one ship by suspending it on ice, the same one Katara and Aang observed just after they went penguin sledding. However, as the raids continued, more and more waterbenders were captured, until Hama was the last remaining waterbender in the Southern Tribe. Finally, she too was captured and led away in chains, with Kanna watching in tears.
While imprisoned, she and the other waterbenders were caged and separated from each other. The Fire Nation went to extremes to ensure that the waterbenders could not use water to escape; the prison kept the humidity to minimum so water could not pulled from the air, and the waterbenders' limbs were chained whenever they were given liquid water. However, each month Hama could feel the power of the full moon and knew that there had to be a way to escape. She eventually realized that water exists within all living things and by manipulating the water inside bodies she could escape. Only during the full moons, when her bending was at its peak, could Hama manipulate the water in the bodies of rats, and after many years of practice, she mastered this ability which she named bloodbending. After mastering bloodbending, Hama controlled one of the guards, forcing him to unlock her cage. Having been tortured for decades, she finally escaped her imprisonment, freed by one of the very guards assigned to keep her locked in.
Hama later moved into a small Fire Nation village, becoming the keeper of a modest inn. In secrecy, she used her powers to abduct people every full moon, sadistically imprisoning them in a mountain as revenge for the treatment she and her fellow waterbenders had suffered in the Fire Nation prison.
Meeting a fellow waterbender
Decades after Hama's escape, Aang and his friends were camping in the woods, near the village where Hama lived, passing the time by recounting ghost stories. Hama suddenly appeared after overhearing Katara telling a story about a little Southern Water Tribe girl who mysteriously disappeared in a winter storm. The innkeeper offered them a stay at her inn, warning them that the woods they were camping in were unsafe, because people had been mysteriously disappearing durings full moons. The group gratefully accepted her invitation without any skepticism of Hama's true involvement in the disappearances.
The next morning, Hama and the rest of the gang went to get some supplies in a nearby town; during this period, Katara and Hama got along very well, but Sokka began to question Hama's strange demeanor. Soon after, Hama found the gang snooping around her home. To tame their suspicions, she showed them a Water Tribe comb, revealing to the group that she was a waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe but was captured during a raid and put in a terrible prison which she eventually escaped from; however, she did not reveal the exact nature of the escape, claiming it to be too painful. She offered to teach Katara everything she knew in order to carry on the tradition of southern waterbending. Katara eagerly agreed to learn more about her tribe's cultural heritage.
The next day, Hama taught Katara a series of techniques in order to obtain water in places devoid of any obvious water sources. She first demonstrated that it was possible to pull water out of thin air. Hama told Katara to keep an open mind and realize that there was water in unexpected places. She then led Katara to a field of fire lilies and told her that water could even be drawn from living things. She demonstrated this by harvesting the water from the flowers around them and using it to slice through a rock. While Katara was amazed by the demonstration, she regretted that the fire lilies were destroyed in the process. Hama dismissed her concerns quickly by telling her that they were simply flowers, and that a waterbender in a foreign country had to do what they must to survive. Following her demonstration, Hama offered to teach Katara a powerful technique that was only possible during the full moon. When Katara expressed hesitance due to the rumors of disappearances, Hama reassured her that two master waterbenders under a full moon should be able to handle anything.
That night, Hama led Katara into the forest and told her about bloodbending and its ability to control another living organism. Horrified by the idea of controlling another person's body, Katara refused to learn bloodbending. Hama argued with her, stating that it did not matter whether she wanted to learn it or not, because the power to use it existed either way. For trying to wipe out their entire culture, Hama extolled that they must have vengeance upon the Fire Nation. This outburst led Katara to realize that Hama had been causing the villagers to disappear, but the latter angrily stated that the people of the Fire Nation deserved the same treatment that they had given to her and all the southern waterbenders. Hearing this caused Katara to adamantly refuse to learn bloodbending and to try to stop Hama from further terrorizing the town. Hama used bloodbending against Katara to temporarily force her into submission. However, Katara quickly regained control of her body after calming down, and she subsequently told Hama that since she is the more powerful waterbender, Hama's bloodbending is useless on her. The two began to battle, each drawing water from the grass, the trees, and the air. Both combatants demonstrated their mastery over waterbending, but after a furious fight, it became obvious that Katara was the superior bender. Aang and Sokka arrived, having discovered Hama's true identity. Hama used bloodbending to control the two, forcing them to attack Katara and then each other. After Hama attempted to force Sokka to stab Aang, Katara regrettably used bloodbending to subdue Hama in order to protect Aang and Sokka. Toph arrived with the other freed villagers, who handcuffed Hama and took her away, vowing to imprison her forever. Hama remarked that her work is done, as Katara had already willingly used and mastered bloodbending. She laughed maniacally as she was dragged off, leaving Katara in tears.
Hama initially appeared to be a gentle, kind old woman. She possessed a caring, maternal personality, which eventually won Katara's full trust. Determined and strong-willed, Hama fought persistently to ward off the Fire Nation during the Southern Water Tribe raids. However, later events brought out a much darker and unstable side of Hama. Her discovery of bloodbending led her to become power-hungry and radically driven to exact revenge on Fire Nation civilians whenever possible. Long to hold a grudge, she actively retaliated against the Fire Nation by odiously imprisoning local villagers as a way to punish the Fire Nation for the devastation they brought upon the Southern Water Tribe. She revealed a cruel side to her, showing no mercy toward random Fire Nation citizens or even Katara, as she willingly used bloodbending on her.
When she met Katara, she wanted to pass on the Southern Water Style so it would not die along with her, as well as her own invention of bloodbending, stating "[Katara] must carry on [her] work". She showed herself to be an encouraging teacher, if not a little immersed in instructing Katara. But her real goal was to ensure bloodbending would not die with her, and that Katara would use it for the same reason Hama did: to get revenge on the Fire Nation in the name of the Southern Water Tribe.
Hama was a very powerful and creative waterbender, and, along with Katara, one of the two known living waterbenders from the Southern Water Tribe. She was also the only remaining master of the Southern Style, until she passed her knowledge on to Katara. Hama was resourceful enough to draw water from plants, and even from thin air, to fuel her bending. She must also have been very skilled in combat, as she resisted capture the longest during the Southern Water Tribe raids.
Hama was such a proficient waterbender that she was able to manipulate the water from grass, flowers, and even trees and use it in combat or for other purposes. This contributed to her resourcefulness. She was able to pull water out of the air, making her a very formidable opponent.
Having spent years with the single-minded goal of perfecting this art, Hama became highly skilled at bloodbending, a technique that allowed her to manipulate the water in other creatures' bodies, effectively giving her control over her target's actions. The technique was powerful, and Hama was skilled enough in its use that she could simultaneously control Aang and Sokka with great finesse.
Hama was a capable teacher, passing on all knowledge of Southern Style Waterbending to Katara in a short time, though Katara was already a master in her own right. Hama also proved to be a skilled actress, hiding her grudge against her Fire Nation neighbors as she enacted her revenge on them one by one, even disguising her grim intentions from Toph, who had proven herself to be very capable of detecting lies. Hama was also very intellectual, as she managed to escape a prison designed to hold waterbenders, and was the only one to do so. Even before that, however, she proved to be a capable fighter, as she was able to evade the Fire Nation Army until she was the last waterbender left in her entire tribe. And after escaping prison, she concealed herself and successfully shook off suspicion, taking up residence in a small town as an innkeeper, and would have presumably been able to spend the rest of her life as a free woman, had she not seen passing on her skills as more crucial and revealed herself to Katara.
The puppets that Sokka found when he was snooping around Hama's inn were made by her to look like her prisoners.
Hama is the first known waterbender to disguise herself as a simple Fire Nation citizen. However, unlike Katara, the second known waterbender to do so, Hama did not change her hair style to a top-knot, but merely added a Fire Nation headpiece.