Page:Eskimo Life.djvu/383

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divert them from the one thing needful—the duty of providing for themselves and their families. It is vaunted as a brilliant achievement that the majority of the natives of the west coast can now both read and write. Unfortunately for them, they can; for these arts are not to be learned for nothing, and they have indeed to pay dear for their acquirements. It is self-evident that an Eskimo cannot possibly devote his time to these branches of knowledge and nevertheless be as good a hunter as when he had only one interest in life, and learned nothing except hunting and the management of the kaiak.[1] We have direct evidence of the fact that skill with the kaiak has declined, in the many accidents which have happened of late years. Formerly, according to Rink, no more than fifteen or twenty deaths in kaiak-hunting occurred during the year; but in 1888 and 1889 there have been thirty-one fatal kaiak accidents each year.

The chief aim of all education must surely be to make the rising generation good and capable citizens of the community in which their lot is cast. But in what way does an Eskimo become a capable citizen of his little community? Since hunting and fishing

  1. Just as I am sending this to press there appears Gejerstam's Kulturkampen i Herjedalen, in which the author argues, as I do, that our school teaching has been the ruin of the Lapps, by weakening their interest in the business of their lives.