Popular Science Monthly/Volume 26/April 1885/Cumberland Sound and its Eskimos
|CUMBERLAND SOUND AND ITS ESKIMOS.|
By Dr. FRANZ BOAS.
SINCE times long ago ships have been yearly going out from their native ports in pursuit of the whale. The vessels of the ancient Basques, and the fleets of the Hanse cities, of the Netherlands, and of the Norwegians, enticed by the lucrative pursuit, eagerly pressed forward into the dangerous frozen sea. Enterprising sailors were constantly opening new hunting-grounds to the fishers, some of which are still frequented by whale-hunters. Besides the East Greenland Sea, Baffin's Bay and Davis Strait were among the best-known hunting grounds, and were visited every year by fleets of Scottish and American whalers. In May, the ships leave their home ports and sail in the toilsome and dangerous route along the west coast of Greenland, toward the north, to reach the fishing-ground in the east and southeast of Lancaster Sound. The whales resort to this region in the latter half of July, while later, after the broad girdle of coast-ice on the west side of Davis Strait has broken up, they go farther south.
When the whales had become more rare here, in the fourth decade of the century, the brave William Penny, who afterward distinguished himself in the expeditions in search of Franklin, determined to seek for new and richer fields, and penetrated into the half-forgotten Cumberland Sound, whose waters were numerously populated by whales. As he was accustomed to have frequent dealings with the natives, friendly relations were soon established between the inhabitants of the sound and the whalers; and, although Penny desired to enjoy his new discovery all to himself, he was shortly followed by an enterprising American captain, and the rich fishing-ground he had found was no longer the secret of one man. As early as May and June, when the ice breaks up in the sound, many whales appear at the floe-edge, and were pursued by the natives in their skin-boats. But, as the entrance to the sound was closed at this season by the heavy and broad pack ice, it was not supposed that any advantage could be taken of this fact till a shrewd captain thought of wintering over two boats' crews, so that they could begin the chase early in the spring. These crews were not very strong in numbers, and they added to their force by enlisting Eskimos, who gave their services readily for a little pay. The experiment proved profitable, and was followed by several ships, till Cumberland Sound became lively in both summer and winter. Other factors preferred to send out their ships only once a year, leaving their men to live in houses which were prepared at home and set up on the fishing-grounds. The whales were pursued without mercy, and have accordingly diminished so rapidly that the region, which had for a short time witnessed the most lively activity, has been deserted by nearly all the ships. Only a few scattering graves now remind vis of the time when the stir of enterprise prevailed here.
Two stations are, however, still kept up. They continue to follow the custom, established in the beginning, of employing Eskimos and manning the whale-boats with them. It appears that the sound, at the time it was first visited by the whalers, was inhabited by about two thousand Eskimos, but they have diminished since then with really frightful rapidity, till now they hardly number three hundred persons, who are distributed among seven settlements. The Kikkerton Eskimos, who alone once manned eighteen boats, representing a population of about four hundred and fifty heads, now number only eighty. The two fishing-stations are situated on Kikkerton, an island on the east coast of the sound. When the Eskimos who have spent the summer up the fiord return at the beginning of October, they eagerly offer their services at the station, for they receive in payment for a half-year's work a gun, harmonicum, or something of the kind, and a ration of provisions for their families, with tobacco, every week. Every Saturday the women come at the blowing of the horn into the station-house, to receive their bread, coffee, and sirup, and the precious tobacco. In return, the Eskimo is expected to deliver a piece of every seal he catches into the kitchen of the station.
The time for the fall catching commences as soon as the ice begins to form. If the generally stormy weather permits it, the boats leave the harbor to look out for the whales, which are accustomed to go along the east coast of the sound toward the north. During the last years the catch was very unprofitable, for only a few whales were seen. As the ice forms very quickly, the boats must be brought back to the land by the end of October or the beginning of November. Since whales have become scarce, the stations have followed the business of collecting seal blubber and skins, which they buy from the Eskimos.
A lively traffic springs up as soon as the ice has become strong enough to allow sledges to pass from shore to shore. The sledges of the stations are sent from one settlement to another, to exchange tobacco, matches, coffee, bread, etc., for skins and the spare blubber which the Eskimos have carefully saved up. The natives themselves, who need useful articles like cooking-pots, lamps, etc., collect quantities of hides and blubber, and come to Kikkerton to supply their wants. Eskimos come over from the southern part of the west coast of Davis Strait to exchange bears' skins for articles they want. The winter passes quickly away amid this stir of business, till everything comes to a stop in April. For now the seals cast their young, whose white, long-haired skin forms an important element in the clothing of the people. As the hunting-season only lasts a month, the natives put the time to a good use; and the old settlements are quickly deserted, for the seals are to be found most abundantly in the fiords and among the rough ice, which are the least productive places in winter.
When the sun has reached such a height that the snow begins to melt in favored spots, a new life begins at the station. The skins which had been collected in the winter, when frozen, are brought out of the store-room and exposed to the beams of the sun. A number of Eskimo women busy themselves, with their half-moon-shaped knives, in cutting the blubber from the skins and putting it away in tubs. Others clean and salt the skins, which arc likewise packed away. The men also find enough work to do after the catching of the young seals is over. The whale-boats must be got ready for the spring fishing. New Eskimos, who have been engaged by the station for the next month, come down daily, with their families and all their goods, to take up their abodes at Kikkerton. The boats are dug out from the deep snow, the oars and sails are looked after, the harpoons are cleaned up and sharpened, and everything is in busy preparation. The boats are made as comfortable as possible, with awnings and level floors, for their crews are not to come to the shore again for about six weeks.
By the beginning of May, the arrangements having been completed, the boats are put upon the sledges, and, under the direction of native drivers, are drawn by dog-teams, with their crews, to the edge of the ice. The sledges being heavily laden, and food for the dogs having to be provided by hunting, the day's stages are short. Arrived at the floe-edge, the sledges are unloaded and the boats are launched. Here is a profusion of seals and birds of all kinds, and the chase is opened without delay upon everything that is useful and can be shot. Sledges are regularly sent back to Kikkerton with skins and meats for the families of the Eskimos, while the blubber is packed in tubs which are kept ready on the spot.
The most important object of the expedition is the whale. Harpoons and lines are always in readiness for the contest with the mighty monster. The whale-fishery has been so often described that I pass over the already well-enough known details of the exciting chase. The peculiar circumstances in the sound give to the capture here a character which is exhibited in no other region. The boats go back to the north with the breaking up of the ice, and the fishing closes in July. The Eskimos are paid off and dismissed, and resume their reindeer-hunting, while the whites are glad to enjoy some rest after weeks of exhausting labor.
Unless the results of the whale-fishery improve within a short time, the period can not be far distant when the last of the whites will abandon the unprofitable land. Then the Eskimos, who can no longer live without powder and shot, will be compelled to remove from the sound and make their home on the shores of Davis Strait, which is visited every year by ships; and Cumberland Sound may, perhaps, become more desolate than it was before its apparently inexhaustible richness in whales attracted whole fleets to its waters, and gave the region an important place in the world's trade.
When our ship, the German schooner Germania, was about to enter the port of Kikkerton in the summer of 1883, there came a boat-load of Eskimos to offer us their help. I had not formed a good opinion of the appearance of these people, but I was really astonished at the figures I saw. The little bandy-legged fellows who ran laughing and chewing over the deck of the vessel, with their long black hair, flat faces, and dripping eyes, made an extremely repulsive impression; and when we were visited by a boat-load of women, among whom were a few antiquated matrons, my aversion toward my future fellow-residents reached its highest point. It really seemed as if the ugliest of the ugly had been selected to receive us, for I was afterward surprised by many a cheerful and pleasant face, or a strong, well-built figure. These first Eskimos appeared at least relatively neat, for they had probably held a grand feast of purification before the arrival of the ship. I had an opportunity to observe what a good influence intercourse with the whites had had upon the natives, when I came into a settlement on Davis Strait, which had never been visited by a European. I would not undertake to describe the appearance it presented, so odious was it. When I related to the Eskimos of Cumberland Sound the unhappy experiences I had suffered in the oily and filthy huts of this tribe, they answered: "We are like the cleanly gulls, which have, indeed, to look to the oil and fat of seals and walruses for their food, but still keep their feathers tidy; but they are like the Mollimoke, which wallow in blood and fat, and do not mind any kind of dirt."
The fur dresses of our Eskimos appear to be well made, and adorned with trimmings of different kinds of skins. Particular attention seemed to have been given to the reindeer-skin jackets of the women, with their long tails reaching to the ground, and to the wide hoods in which the children are carried. The short breeches reaching to the knee, of white seal-pups' skin, were very handsome. Afterward, when I became better acquainted with my new friends, I perceived what a disadvantage an indolent woman could be, even in this country, when she can not or will not keep up with her household duties. The clothes of the family too often bear witness to her neglect, and I have sometimes pitied the poor men who have to go to their seal-hunting in cold winter weather, without enough clothing. Among the first women who visited us were some unusually adorned with a cotton garment, which was occasionally exposed under their fur jackets. The men also appeared to be well clothed in seal-skin jackets, small hoods, and breeches ornamented with variously colored furs. Their long hair, loosely fluttering about their heads, gave them a wild appearance; but their quiet eyes, and the childish pleasure they exhibited on every opportunity, contradicted this. They all greatly enjoyed the much-desired tobacco, for the provision at the station had given out some time before, and they had been obliged, willing or unwilling, to practice abstinence, and not to smoke. when they had got entirely out, they had broken up their clay pipes and chewed the pieces for the sake of the taste of the little tobacco that had been absorbed in them.
A little while after casting anchor, we visited the summer tents of the natives. We had not got very close to them before their proximity became quite obvious by the strong odor of the skins of which they were made. The front part, which is made of split, semi-transparent skins, impressed itself very strongly and disagreeably on my olfactory nerves, and when I drew the curtain and looked around on the piles of meat, the filthy cooking-vessels, and the heaps of reindeer skins in the background, I ran out and away as quickly as I could. If any one had told me then that I would soon be living without repugnance in just such surroundings, I should have resented the insinuation very angrily. But it was not long before the stress of circumstances and custom brought me to it, and I too found myself sharing the deerskin bed-place of the natives and cooking with them in the same kettle, though I generally took the precaution to use my own. Even the store of meat heaped up in the sides of the hut was often only too welcome to me, as was also the hospitable lamp by which the housewife sat caring that the wick should be kept well supplied with oil, and should burn evenly without smoking. With what joy, returning from a journey wet and chilled through, did I often greet the cheerful fire which warmed the hut comfortably, and the kindly hostess who dried and cleaned my clothes; and how haltingly did I as often leave the hospitable roof to go out on my solitary journeys from coast to coast, or into uninhabited regions!
The few tents which we found on our arrival at Kikkerton were inhabited by the Eskimos of the Scottish station, while all the other natives had gone fur-hunting; for as soon as the spring fishing is over and the sound is tolerably free from ice, they go in their boats up the fiords and set up their tents at the extreme ends of them.
While the women and older men stay here to catch salmon, of which immense numbers abound in the ponds and rivers at this season, the younger and more active go for days' journeys into the interior, sometimes getting as far as a hundred miles or more from their settlements. If they kill a large number of reindeer, they only bring the best meat and the skins on their backs to the camp. Then a great feast is given. All the people of the settlement are called together. An open fire of brush blazes under the kettle of meat, and every one has his part in the meal. The skins are carefully preserved, to be made up afterward into winter clothing. A favorite summer resort of the Eskimos is the great Lake Netilling, West of Cumberland Sound, the shore of which is frequented by numerous herds of that animal; and many start for that place with sledges in May.
While I was exploring the east coast of the sound with boats in the fall, a large number of Eskimos came back from their summer journeys. Some of them used old whale-boats, which they had got from some ship. The craft were loaded to the edge with the skins obtained during the season. Men, women, and children were singing, laughing, and chattering, dogs were howling, and every once in a while one person or another would reach down into the always-full pot that stood in the middle of the boat. Only the helmsman sat earnest and majestic on his high seat, and steered his craft. If the wind was unfavorable, oars were used. Occasionally a seal would lift his head out of the water, and, if there was no particular reason for haste, they would stop, and every one would hold his gun in readiness to cover the animal if he should come up again to take breath.
All the Eskimos have returned by the middle of October, and, as it is now getting perceptibly cold, they immediately begin to build their winter houses. Several families occupy a common tent, which is now covered with brush, and over this is spread another coat of skins. The bedroom in the back of the hut and the meat-and lamp rooms on both sides of the door are raised about two feet, so that the cold air shall not cool the living-room too much. When the lamps are burning, the room soon becomes comfortably warm, and at least a little fire is kept up day and night. Later in the winter the people begin to build their snow-houses, the size of which varies according to the number in the family. Large blocks are cut out of the wind hardened snow, which the Eskimos skillfully build up into a high dome. The joints are carefully closed, and the whole is smoothed on the outside. The wind and the cold air are kept out of the dwelling room by means of smaller domes and a long entrance-way. This hut, covered with skins, makes a very nice winter home.
Since the Eskimos require much blubber in the winter for their lamps, their principal hunt is for the seal. So long as the ice does not cover the whole sound, they go to its edge to shoot the seals, which are then dragged ashore with harpoons. This kind of hunting is very dangerous, for they unavoidably have to go upon the drift-ice to secure the dead seals, and this is very liable to move when the wind suddenly changes. Thus a young man, a few seasons ago, was held for three days on a cake of ice without being able to get to the shore or having anything to eat. He evidently did not lose heart, for, while his fate was still uncertain, he made a comic song about his misfortune, which is now sung by all the Eskimos in the region.
If the sea is wholly covered with ice, guns can not be used, but the hunters have to go to the breathing-holes, which the seals keep open all the winter, in order to harpoon them when they come up. The Eskimos also travel much at this season. Sledges flit from one settlement to another. Friends and relatives visit one another, and a lively trade springs up at the whalers' stations. I, too, began to travel, and, as I lived at various times in different settlements, I had opportunities to become well acquainted with the manner of life and the character of the people. At every settlement I had a host, at whose house I was accustomed to stay when I was there. A white man, moreover, is a much-esteemed guest, for he usually brings fresh provision of tobacco and bread.
In May, when the heat has become stronger, the seals are accustomed to lie upon the ice and sun themselves. Then the Eskimo brings out his gun again: he carefully approaches his victim, who is generally warily looking around; lies down upon the ice and imitates the movements of the seal, which is taken in by the deception. When he has at last got near enough, he brings down his game with a well aimed shot. Times are good now, for this kind of hunting yields several seals a day. Then comes the golden season of summer, bringing plenty of birds, eggs, salmon, reindeer, seals, and walruses—summer, with its gay flowers and rushing streams, freeing the seas from their icy fetters—a season which the Eskimo loves, and the beauty of which he celebrates in his songs. Thus closes the circle of the year of this people, careless and contented under the most straitened circumstances, whose hospitality and indomitable serenity I learned during my life among them to love and prize.
When, late in the fall, storms rage over the land, and again release the sea from the icy fetters by which it is as yet only slightly bound; when the loosened floes are driven one against another, and break up with loud crackings; when the cakes of ice are piled in wild disorder against or upon one another, the Eskimo believes he hears the voice of spirits which inhabit the mischief-laden air.
The spirits of the dead—the Tupilak—knock wildly at the huts which they can not enter, and woe to the unhappy person whom they can lay hold of! He immediately sickens, and is fated to a speedy death. The wicked Krikirn pursues the dogs, which die as soon as they see it with convulsions and cramps; Kallopalling appears in the water, and drags the brave hunters down, and conceals them in the great hood of his duck-skin dress. All the countless spirits of evil—the Torgnet—are aroused, striving to bring sickness and death, bad weather, and failure in hunting. The worst visitors are Sedna, mistress of the under-world, and her father, to whom dead Innuit fall.
The old stories which mothers relate during the long winter evenings to their timidly listening children tell of Sedna. Once upon a time there lived a Jnnung, with his daughter Sedna, on the solitary shore. His wife had been dead for some time, and the two led a quiet existence. Sedna grew up to be a handsome girl, and the youth came in from all around to sue for her hand, but none of them could touch her proud heart. Finally, at the breaking up of the ice in the spring, a fulmar flew from over the sea and wooed Sedna with enticing song. "Come to me," it said; "come into the land of birds, where there is never hunger, where my tent is made of the most beautiful skins. You shall rest on soft deer-skins. My fellows, the storm birds, shall bring you all your heart may desire; their feathers shall clothe you thickly; your lamp shall always be filled with oil, your pot with meat." Sedna could not long resist such wooing, and they went together over the vast sea. When at last they reached the country of the fulmar, after a long and hard journey, Sedna discovered that her spouse had shamefully deceived her. Her new home was not built of beautiful pelts, but was covered with wretched fish-skins, full of holes that gave free entrance to wind and snow. Instead of white reindeer-skins, her bed was made of Lard walrus-hides; and she had to live on miserable fish which the birds brought her. Too soon she discovered that she had thrown her fortune away when, in her foolish pride, she had rejected the Innuit youth. In her woe she sang:
"Aya! father, if you knew how wretched I am, you would come to me, and we would hurry away in your boat over the waters. These strange birds look unkindly upon me. The cold winds roar around my bed; they give me miserable food—oh, come and take me back home! Aya!"
When a year had passed, and the sea was again stirred with warmer winds, the father left his land to visit Sedna. His daughter greeted him joyfully, and besought him to take her back home. The father, pitying his daughter, took her in his boat while the birds were out hunting, and they quickly left the country which had brought so much sorrow to Sedna. When the fulmar came home in the evening, and found his wife not there, he was very angry. He called his fellows around him, and they all flew away in search of the fugitives. They soon discerned them, and stirred up a great storm. The sea rose in immense waves, that threatened the pair with destruction. In his mortal peril the father determined to offer Sedna up to the birds, and threw her overboard. She clung with a death-hold to the edge of the boat. The cruel father then took a knife and cut off the first joints of her fingers. Falling into the sea, they were changed into seals. Sedna, holding to the boat more tightly, the second finger-joints fell under the sharp knife, and swam around as ground-seals; when the father cut off the stumps of the fingers, they became whales.
In the mean time the storm subsided, for the storm-birds thought Sedna was drowned. The father then allowed her to come into the boat again. But she from that time cherished a deadly hatred against him, and swore bitter revenge. After they got ashore, she called up two dogs, and let them eat the feet and hands of her father while he was asleep. Upon this he cursed himself, his daughter, and the dogs which had maimed him, when the earth opened and swallowed hut, father, daughter, and dogs. They have since lived in the land of Adliwun, of which Sedna is the mistress.
The seals, ground-seals, and whales, which grew from Sedna's fingers, increased rapidly, and soon filled all the waters, affording choice food to the Innuit. But Sedna has always hated those people, whom she despised when on the earth, because they hunt and kill the creatures which have arisen from her flesh and blood. Her father, who has to get along by creeping, appears to the dying; and the wizards often see his crippled hand seizing and taking away the dead. The dead have to stay a year in Sedna's dismal abode. The two great dogs lie on the threshold, and only move aside to let the dead come in. It is dark and cold inside. No bed of reindeer-skins invites to rest; but the new-comer has to lie on hard walrus-hides.
Only those who have been good and brave on the earth escape Sedna, and lead happy lives in the upper-land of Kudliwun. This land is full of reindeer; it is never cold there, and snow and ice never visit it. Those, also, who have died a violent death may go into the fields of the blessed. But whoever has been with Sedna must always stay in the land of Adliwun, and hunt whales and walruses. With all the other evil spirits, Sedna now lingers in the fall among the Innuit. But, while the others fill the air and the water, she rises from under the ground.
It is then a busy season for the wizards. In every hut we may hear singing and praying, and conjuring of the spirits is going on in every house. The lamps burn low. The wizard sits in a mystic gloom in the back part of the hut. He has thrown off his outer coat and drawn the hood of his inner garment over his head. Muttering undistinguishable words, he throws his arms feverishly around his body. He utters sounds which it is hard to ascribe to a human voice. At last the guardian spirit responds to the invocation. The Angeko lies in a trance, and when he comes to himself he promises, in incoherent phrases, the help of the good spirit against the Tupilak, and informs the credulous, affrighted Innuit how they can escape the dreaded evil.
The hardest task, that of driving away Sedna, is reserved for the most powerful wizards. A rope is coiled on the floor of a large hut, in such a manner as to leave a small opening at the top, which represents the breathing-hole of a seal. Two wizards stand by the side of it, one of them holding the seal-spear in his hand as if he were watching at the seal-hole in the winter, the other holding the harpoon-rope. Another Angeko sits in the back of the hut, whose office it is to lure Sedna up with magic song. At last Sedna comes up through the hard earth, and the Angeko hears her heavy breathing; now she emerges from the ground, and meets the wizards waiting at the hole. She is harpooned, and sinks away in angry haste, drawing after her the harpoon, to which the two men hold with all their strength. Only by a desperate effort does she tear herself away from it and return to her dwelling in Adliwun. Nothing is left with the two men but the blood-sprinkled harpoon, which they proudly show to the Innuit.
Sedna and the other evil spirits are at last driven away, and a great festival for young and old is celebrated on the next day in honor of the event. But they must still be careful, for the wounded Sedna is greatly enraged, and will seize any one whom she can find out of his hut. So, on this day, they all wear protecting amulets en the tops of their hoods.
The men assemble early in the morning in the middle of the settlements. As soon as they have all got together, they run screaming and jumping around the houses, following the course of the sun. A few, dressed in women's jackets, run in the opposite direction. They are those who were born in abnormal positions. The circuit made, they visit every hut, where the woman of the house must be waiting for them. When she hears the noise of the band, she comes out and throws a dish of little gifts of meat, ivory trinkets, and articles of sealskin into the yelling crowd, of which each one helps himself to what he can get. No hut is spared in this round.
The gang next divides itself into two parties, the Ptarmigans—those who were born in the winter—and the Ducks, or the children of summer. A large rope of seal-skin is stretched out; each party takes one end of it, and tries with all its might to drag the opposite party over to its side. But they hold fast to the rope, and try as hard to make ground for themselves. If the Ptarmigans give way, then summer has won the game, and fine weather may be expected to prevail through the winter.
The contest of the seasons having been decided, the women bring out a large kettle of water, and each person gets his drinking-cup. The company stand close around the kettle, while the oldest man steps out first from among them. He dips a cup of water from the vessel, sprinkles a few drops on the ground, turns his face toward the home of his youth, and says, "My name is Naktukerling, and I was born in Kajossuit." He is followed by an aged woman, who announces her name and home; and then all the others do the same, down to the youngest children, who are represented by their mothers. As the words of the old are listened to respectfully, those of distinguished hunters are received with demonstrative applause, and those of the others with different kinds of attention, down to familiar rallying.
Now arises a cry as of surprise, and all eyes are turned toward a hut out of which stalk two gigantic figures. They wear heavy boots, their legs are swelled out to a wonderful thickness by several pairs of breeches, their shoulders are covered by a woman's over-jacket, and their faces by tattooed masks of seal-skin. In their right hands they carry the seal-spear, on their backs an inflated buoy of seal-skin, and in their left hands the tessirkun, the tool with which the skins are prepared. Silently, and with long strides, the Kailertetang approach the assembly, who, screaming, press back from before them. The pair solemnly lead the men to a suitable spot, and set them in a row, against which they set the women in an opposite row. They match the men and women in pairs, and these pairs run, pursued by the Kailertetang to the hut of the woman, when they are for the following day man and wife. Having performed this duty, the Kailertetang speed down to the shore, and invoke the good north wind, which brings fair weather, while they warn off the unfavorable south wind.
As soon as the incantation is over, all the men attack the Kailertetang with a great noise. They act as if they had weapons in their hands, and would kill both the spirits. One pretends to probe them with a spear, another to stab them with a knife; one to cut off their arms and legs, another to beat them unmercifully on the head. The buoy which they carry on their backs is ripped open and collapses, and soon they both lie as if dead beside their broken weapons. The Eskimos leave them to get their drinking-cups, and the Kailertetang awake to new life. Each one tills his seal-skin with water, passes a cup to them, and inquires about the future, about the fortunes of the hunt, and the events of life. The Kailertetang answer in murmurs, which the questioner must interpret for himself.
Thus ends this day, in which laughing and singing, joy and gladness prevail. On the morrow the Eskimo goes back to his daily life, but the autumn festival is the subject of talk in the hut and on the hunt for weeks afterward.
- ↑ Dr. Boas spent about twelve months, from August, 1883, till the 25th of August, 1884, in exploring from his headquarters, at the Kikkerton Islands whaling-station, the coasts of Cumberland Sound and Davis Strait. Though he was prevented by the changes of the weather, and an epidemic that raged among the dogs, from accomplishing as much as he had contemplated, lie made numerous explorations in Cumberland Sound, and followed the western coast-line of Davis Strait as far as Cape Raper in latitude 69° 50' north, traversing in all his journeys nearly 2,400 miles of country, most of which had been previously unexplored. lie learned the language of the Eskimos, and acquired much interesting information respecting their customs, traditions, and religious observances, some of which are presented in this article. The sketches have been furnished us by the author in slips of the "Berliner Tageblatt," and have been translated from the German for "The Popular Science Monthly."