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Habits of the Eskimo.


Europeans ventured to approach it. The first ship which penetrated into Baffin's Bay in 1616, under Captain Bylot, opened a communication with the natives. It was only in 1818 that the elder Ross, who was the second to enter those latitudes, appeared, and in his track followed the whale-fishers, who brought with them the first iron. But the Eskimo tribe which lives on the other side of Smith's Bay has certainly been settled there for several generations, perhaps for centuries.

The Eskimo have contributed in no small degree to the increase of European science by giving their assistance to both the older and more recent explorers of the North-west Passage. Sir Edward Parry was indebted to a remarkable Eskimo woman, Iligiuk, for a map, which led to the discovery of the Fury and Hecla Straits.27 The Eskimo Hans, who accompanied the celebrated Kane, and his successor Hayes, guided the sailor Morton to beyond the eighty-first latitude, the most northerly point ever reached on the coast of Greenland. When we follow the records of the older and newer explorers in the regions of the North-west Passage, and see their ships shut in by the winter ice, and the Arctic night, which is to last three or four months, begins, we cannot help fearing that the European, notwithstanding his control over matter and force, may be unable to cope with the severity of Nature, and that his life and liberty must depend on the caprice of the coming season; then when the cry resounds on board ship, "The Eskimo have come!" it seems as if the portals of the Arctic prison-house were opened by a friendly hand. Like assistants in the darkness appear beings of our species, whose cheerfulness is unaffected by cold and obscurity, and who contentedly wander and range over regions in which Nature seems armed with all the horrors of one of the circles in Dante's hell.28

We need not say much of their skill on the sea. It is well known that they have two sorts of vessels; some large and capacious, the so-called women's boats (Umiak), in which families

27 Captain Lyon's Private Journal, pp. 160 and 226. Hall has made copies of two Eskimo maps, which could scarcely have been drawn more true to nature by Europeans.

28 Inferno, xxxii. v. 22-30.

travel from place to place, and the men's boats (Kayak), in which a single hunter goes in search of sea animals. The English and the Americans of the United States are the ablest judges of the build and management of boats. Both, however, speak with admiration, and almost with envy, of the Eskimo who, with his double paddle and sense of balance worthy of a tight-rope dancer, makes his Kayak dance over the waves.

The identity of their language with that of the Namollo, their skill on the sea, their domestication of the dog, their use of the sledge, the Mongolian type of their faces, their capability for higher civilization, are sufficient reasons for answering the question, whether a migration took place from Asia to America or conversely from America to Asia, in favour of the former alternative; yet such a migration from Asia by way of Behring's Straits must have occurred at a much later period than the first colonization of the New World from the Old one.


Akin to the Namollo and the Eskimo both in language and in blood are the inhabitants of the northern and western portion of what was formerly Russian America, who have also been called Alaskan Eskimo. They live on the shores of Behring's Straits, on the peninsula of Alaska, and the adjoining coast towards the east, nearly as far as Mount St. Elias. They are divided into thirteen tribes the Koniaks, or Konaks, of the island of Kodiak, the Tshugatshi on Prince William's Sound and the peninsula of Kenai, and eleven others, the names of which all end in mjuts or mutes.29 To the latter belong Whymper's Malemutes who, like all the rest, are distinguished from the Eskimo and Namollo only by their dialect. Men of six feet high may be seen among them, so that the dimensions vary considerably in this race. Trade has always been carried on between the Behring's nations of Asia and America. The Tshuktshi pass over to Diomedes Island, and the Malemutes cross from the extreme north-westerly point of America, to exchange reindeer's hides for furs. The trade is so brisk that the clothing of the natives several hundred miles up the Yukon river consists of Asiatic skins obtained from the Tshuktshi.30

29 For their names see Waitz, Anthropologie, vol. iii. p. 301.
30 Whymper, Alaska, p. 149.

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O. von Kotzebue, who sailed along both shores of Behring's Straits. remarks that the inhabitants of St. Lawrence's Island speak the same language as the tribes on the American coast, and call them brothers. 'Altogether," he says in another passage, "I find so little difference between these two peoples' that I am much inclined to consider them as derived from the same stock.” 31 Similarly George Steller states that the inhabitants of Choumagin Islands, on the south coast of Alaska, are as like the Itelmes of Kamtshatka as one egg is to another. 32 All this goes to prove that migrations took place from the Old World to the New. On the other hand, it is not likely that the Eskimo spread from America to Asia, because of all Americans they have preserved the greatest resemblance in racial characters to the Mongolian nations of the Old World, and in historical times their migrations have always taken place in an easterly direction.

(d) Aleutians.-Between the peninsulas of Alaska and Kamtshatka lies, in regular curve, a chain of volcanic islands, destitute of trees and generally enveloped in mist. They are called the Aleutians, as are their inhabitants. The latter are connected with the Eskimo only by a number of words common to both, which may however have been merely interchanged; in other respects their language is isolated. 33 They are a Mongolian race34 whose precocious marriages we have already mentioned. 35 All the Behring's nations are more or less good sailors, but the Aleutians seem to excel even the Eskimo in dexterity. Their hide canoes for one person are, as Erman informs us, about 60lbs. in weight, and when occupied by an Aleutian weighing 140lbs. draw so little water that the section submerged offers only o'056 metre's resisting surface. With a

31 Entdeckungsreise in die Südsee, vol. ii. p. 105, and vol. i. p. 159.
32 Steller, Kamtschatka, p. 297.

33 According to the short sketch given by Lütke (Voyage autour du monde, vol. i. p. 243), in the structure of their words they also use prefixes, which are totally wanting in the Innuit language.

34 A German traveller (Allgemeine Zeitung, p. 4300. 1873) is induced by the form of their face to consider them as descended from castaway Japanese.

35 The same erotic views are prevalent among them (Langsdorff, Reise um die Welt, vol. ii. p. 43; W. H. Dale, Alaska, p. 402) as among the Namollo (Lütke, vol. ii. p. 197), the Itelmes (Steller), and the Reindeer Tshuktshi (Wrangel).

canoe of this sort a native accomplished 2148 kilometres, or rather more than 132 miles in 271⁄2 hours, while a pedestrian could at most carry a weight of 60lbs. twelve miles in a day, and would therefore require eleven days to go the same distance.36 The canoe enables the Aleutians to rival the speed of the largest marine animals, and the pursuit of these forms a part of his daily means of sustenance.37

(e) Thlinkites and Vancouver Tribes.-On the coast south of Mount St. Elias, and on the islands on the coast as far as Dixon's Sound, dwell people whom the Russians term Kaliushes, or Kolushes, but who call themselves Thlinkites, or "men." To the south of them live the Haidahs of Queen Charlotte's Island. On the opposite mainland, the Hailtsa, or Hailtsuk, extend from latitude 53 to 50°. Some tribes, such as the Cowitshin and Clalam, inhabit not only Vancouver's Island, but also the mainland on the Frazer River and Puget Sound. It is difficult to procure skulls from this coast district, nor could they afford us much instruction, for in Vancouver, as in Oregon, it is the fashion to disfigure them artificially; and the process is not confined to mere flattening, but dolichocephalism is artificially produced.38 The complexion is almost as fair as in Southern Europeans, but the hair is black and stiff.

Among the Thlinkites and Haidahs 39 a little more beard occasionally appears than is otherwise the case among Asiatic and American Mongols. Very prominent cheek-bones, a depressed base of the nose, and wide, fleshy snub-noses still prevail.40 The Tshinuks who live in Oregon to the south of Puget Sound, and who flatten the head artificially, still have the obliquely slit Mongoloid eyes, which on the other hand are wanting in the Haidahs. The

36 A. Erman in der Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, vol. iii. § 3, p. 167. 1871. 37 An accurate drawing of the structure of this excellent vessel is given by Langsdorff, Reise um die Welt, vol. ii. p. 39.

38 Barnard Davis, Thesaurus Craniorum, p. 231.

39 R. Brown in the Reports of the British Association held at Norwich in 1868, p. 133.

40 Also among the Kolushes according to Von Langsdoff, Reise um die Welt, vol. ii. p. 96.

41 Waitz, Anthropologie, vol. iii. p. 324.

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inhabitants of the coast are not one in language with the people on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, nor have they even a common language among themselves. But as the physical characters do not admit of any separation into different races, and an observer such as Lütke expressly says, that the inhabitants of Queen Charlotte's Islands are not to be distinguished in this respect from the people living on the shores of the Behring's Sea, it seems best to class them with the inhabitants of the extreme north-east of Asia, especially as they resemble these in manners and customs far more than the hunting tribes beyond the Rocky Mountains. They also are good sailors, and know how to build vessels of graceful and well-considered lines. However, it is without doubt the nature of the coast which has evoked and developed their skill on the sea, and hence we must not ascribe it to a tendency of the race and therefore infer a common descent. In the same way the custom of piercing the cheeks or lips and inserting small plugs, which is common to the coast populations of America from Kotzebue Sound to Vancouver Island, would at the most indicate that a close reciprocal intercourse has caused the spread of this vitiated taste. The American Behring's nations were acquainted with iron prior to the arrival of the Russians and Captain Cook's visits to the coast. Provisionally, and until thorough researches enable us to suggest any thing better, we may suppose that Japanese, who visited the Kuriles and Kamtshatka before the Russians, brought to the North iron or iron utensils, which thence spread to America by the trade between the shores. With the exception of the Kolushes, whose conjugal morality is praised by Von Langsdorff,42 we find among all the Behring's nations, even among the Eskimo, erotic vices of the worst description, disregard of conjugal fidelity, the resignation of wives and sisters in token of hospitality to a guest, and at the same time precocious marriages.43 If George Steller was right in ascribing the tendency to such aberrations to the predominance of fish as the staple food, this character common to the Behring's nations is attributable to their place of abode. We find among them all more or less taste for art, which shows itself in carving. Among the Kolushes every

42 Reise um die Welt, p. 113.

43 See above, p. 397, note


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