Page:Eskimo Life.djvu/372

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their harpoons with points of hard ivory or stone, they made their knives of the same material, and caught, in those days, a great many more seals than they do now.

But have not our firearms been of great advantage to them? Quite the reverse. The rifle, for example, has enabled them to perpetrate terrible slaughter among the reindeer, merely for the sake of a small and momentary gain. This went so far, that on the narrow strip of naked, broken country which stretches along the west coast, no fewer than 16,000 reindeer were killed every year, only the skin, as a rule, being taken and sold to the Europeans, while the flesh was left behind to rot. Of course, this presently led to the almost total extermination of the animals, and hunting almost entirely ceased because, as it was explained, 'the reindeer had left the coast.' In former days, when they hunted with bow and arrow, they could kill all that they required, but the slaughter was never so great as seriously to diminish the numbers of the reindeer.

For marine hunting, too, the rifle has been the reverse of an advantage. When there are many seals in the fiord, they are frightened by the shots and set off to sea, whereas harpoon-hunting is carried on in silence. Moreover, it is, of course, easier to kill seals with the rifle than to harpoon them, and