Carib

St. Lucia, St Lucia

First Contact:

10
70
20
gather% / fish % / hunt %
fat % / protein % / carb%

A rough estimate to help us understand how carnivorous and how ketogenic these people were before being exposed to western civilization

1/0

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About the Tribe

Who were the Carib? - Possibly a carnivore population.


Importance of Animal Products

The Carib Indians were primarily fishing people. They took to sea in their long canoes to catch fish, crabs, and other seafood. Hunters also shot birds and small game.

Importance of Plants

In some Carib communities, farming was an important food source, with cassava, beans, squash, and peppers being grown. Other Carib groups did little farming and acquired peppers and cassava through trade or raiding.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5545405/?page=4

Transition to Industrialized Food Products

Observations on the Diseases Which Appeared in the Army at St. Lucia in 1778 and 1779. To Which Are Prefixed Remarks, Calculated to Assist in Explaining the Treatment of Those Diseases. With an Appendix, Containing a Short Address to Military Gentlemen on the Means of Preserving Health in the West Indies


In the fourth chapter the author describes the situations of the island, in which the men specified in the table were fixed, and endeavours to determine which are the most healthy. For this purpoSe he gives a comparative view of the health of the natives compared with that of the troops.

He observes, that "at Carenage-town the People are:

  • short-lived,

  • have annual attacks of fever,

  • yellow and meagre countenances,

  • small legs, except when edematous,

  • so that they have the appearance of persons worn out by disease.

At Gros Met, we are told:

  • the inhabitants live longer,

  • are not fo subject to disease, at least not the same degree or duration,

  • and that they are fuller in the face,

  • and more hearty.

At Souffrir the inhabitants have:

  • cheerful countenances,

  • and nearly in a state of health with those of Gros Islet,

but this, our author thinks, may be attributed to a better diet rather than situation. "

On the extensive plain to windward of this place very few diseases appear, and they are mostly internments : the countenances here of the women, of the children, and even of the men, have some degree of resemblance to those of the European, the female has the red on her cheek, and the child has all the marks of health.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5545405/?page=4


Carenage, formerly known as Le Carenage, is one of the most popular bays located in west Trinidad. This bay, which is a famous sea bathing and liming area, got its name out of the practice of "careening", or cleaning out the waste materials in sea vessels, which was carried out in the area for centuries.

Initially, Le Carenage was the name given to the river flowing into this bay as well as the valley were the river flowed.

The Carenage valley, possibly because of its extremely fertile soils was essentially an agricultural area where crops sugar-cane, cotton and coffee were grown. In fact, the area contained ten sugar mills, five rum distilleries and a workforce consisting of 607 enslaved Africans and 131 'free' people of colour. Owners of the estates comprised of 19 families (64 whites), including the Dumas, Noel, Dert, Mercie families. http://www.trinbagopan.com/Townsandvillages/Carenage2.html


Carenage, formerly known as Le Carenage, is one of the most popular bays located in west Trinidad. This bay, which is a famous sea bathing and liming area, got its name out of the practice of "careening", or cleaning out the waste materials in sea vessels, which was carried out in the area for centuries.

Initially, Le Carenage was the name given to the river flowing into this bay as well as the valley were the river flowed.

The Carenage valley, possibly because of its extremely fertile soils was essentially an agricultural area where crops sugar-cane, cotton and coffee were grown. In fact, the area contained ten sugar mills, five rum distilleries and a workforce consisting of 607 enslaved Africans and 131 'free' people of colour. Owners of the estates comprised of 19 families (64 whites), including the Dumas, Noel, Dert, Mercie families.

In 1849, Lord Harris made the Carenage area into district into a ward. Also, a few years later in 1851, an inland postal service was inaugurated in Trinidad, making Carenage one of the first places to receive mail in the country. Carenage was also one of first areas to set up primary schools in the country.

Despite the area's popularity as a fairly prosperous agricultural region, the face of Carenage seemed to change by the 1870's becoming a poor fishing village, although many were still involved in agriculture. It was at this time that parish priest (or abbé) Antoine Poujade came to assist the poor and helped to erect a chapel and a statue of St. Peter overlooking what is now known as St. Peter's Bay.


Gros Islet (English: Large Island) is a community near the northern tip of the island country of Saint Lucia, in the Gros Islet Quarter. Originally a quiet fishing village, it has gone on to become one of the more popular tourist destinations in the country.

Settled by the Carib (and possibly Arawak), the area was first identified as Gros Islet in a French map from 1717. The community was a Roman Catholic parish, as the first priests who arrived on the island settled in the village in 1749.


https://www.diffordsguide.com/producers/174/st-lucia-distillers/history

John Rollo

Observations on the Diseases Which Appeared in the Army at St. Lucia in 1778 and 1779. To Which Are Prefixed Remarks, Calculated to Assist in Explaining the Treatment of Those Diseases. With an Appendix, Containing a Short Address to Military Gentlemen on the Means of Preserving Health in the West Indies

Dr Rollo, who later recommended a meat diet, writes 20 years earlier while stationed in St Lucia, that the civilized town Carenage with sugar production had far greater disease than the fishing village of Gros Islet and attributes it to a difference in diet.


Observations on the Diseases Which Appeared in the Army at St. Lucia in 1778 and 1779. To Which Are Prefixed Remarks, Calculated to Assist in Explaining the Treatment of Those Diseases. With an Appendix, Containing a Short Address to Military Gentlemen on the Means of Preserving Health in the West Indies 


in the fourth chapter the author describes the situations of the island, in which the men specified in the table were fixed, and endeavours to determine which are the most healthy. For this purpoSe he gives a comparative view of the health of the natives compared with that of the troops. 


He observes, that "at Carenage-town the People are:

  • short-lived, 

  • have annual attacks of fever, 

  • yellow and meagre countenances, 

  • small legs, except when eedematous, 

  • so that they have the appearance of persons worn out by disease. 

At Gros Met, we are told:

  •  the inhabitants live longer,

  • are not fo subject to disease, at least not the same degree or duration,

  •  and that they are fuller in the face,

  •  and more hearty.

At Souffrir the inhabitants have:

  •  cheerful countenances, 

  • and nearly in a state of health with those of Gros Islet, 

but this, our author thinks, may be attributed to a better diet rather than situation. "


On the extensive plain to windward of this place very few diseases appear, and they are mostly internments : the countenances here of the women, of the children, and even of the men, have some degree of resemblance to those of the European, the female has the red on her cheek, and the child has all the marks of health.


http://www.trinbagopan.com/Townsandvillages/Carenage2.html


Carenage, formerly known as Le Carenage, is one of the most popular bays located in west Trinidad. This bay, which is a famous sea bathing and liming area, got its name out of the practice of "careening", or cleaning out the waste materials in sea vessels, which was carried out in the area for centuries.

Initially, Le Carenage was the name given to the river flowing into this bay as well as the valley were the river flowed.

The Carenage valley, possibly because of its extremely fertile soils was essentially an agricultural area where crops sugar-cane, cotton and coffee were grown. In fact, the area contained ten sugar mills, five rum distilleries and a workforce consisting of 607 enslaved Africans and 131 'free' people of colour. Owners of the estates comprised of 19 families (64 whites), including the Dumas, Noel, Dert, Mercie families.


https://www.diffordsguide.com/producers/174/st-lucia-distillers/history


Gros Islet (English: Large Island) is a community near the northern tip of the island country of Saint Lucia, in the Gros Islet Quarter. Originally a quiet fishing village, it has gone on to become one of the more popular tourist destinations in the country.[3]

Settled by the Carib (and possibly Arawak), the area was first identified as Gros Islet in a French map from 1717.[4] The community was a Roman Catholic parish, as the first priests who arrived on the island settled in the village in 1749.[5]


Who were the Carib? - Possibly a carnivore population. 


The Carib Indians were primarily fishing people. They took to sea in their long canoes to catch fish, crabs, and other seafood. Hunters also shot birds and small game. In some Carib communities, farming was an important food source, with cassava, beans, squash, and peppers being grown. Other Carib groups did little farming and acquired peppers and cassava through trade or raiding.

Letters of the present rector of St. Peter's-by-the-Sea, of Sitka, the Reverend Henry H. Chapman.

Eskimo natives had a range of cooking styles and mostly carnivorous diets but did not suffer from cancer until modern foods entered their diet.

In reply to a further query, the rector wrote again from Sitka on September 16, 1958. He confirmed that he had lived at Anvik all but three of the years between his birth in 1895 and his first journey in 1908 when he went out to become a graduate of Middlebury College, Vermont. “I returned to Anvik as a missionary in 1922 and lived there until 1948, except for furloughs and the four years I was in Fairbanks.

“The native people of the Anvik area are Athapaskans. During my youth the main parts of their food were meat (caribou, rabbits, grouse, waterfowl, beaver, porcupine, black bear and lynx) and fish (salmon, whitefish, shellfish, loche and lampreys). The loche has a large liver which is said to be even richer in vitamins than ordinary cod liver. The Indians also ate raw foods such as berries, wild rhubarb, and a root which they called ‘mouseberries’ because it was gathered and hoarded by field mice.

“They obtained fat from caribou, black bear, and beaver tails. The lampreys were rich in oil, which was highly prized. They also bought seal oil from the Eskimos. Even in my boyhood they supplemented their native diet with white man's food, including lard ...

“The usual way of cooking meat was either boiling or frying. As a boy I was once invited by a party of Indians to eat bear meat with them. It was boiled and well done ... I do not know that any flesh foods were eaten raw, except for dried fish ...”

Neither does the published literature on the forest Indians report that any flesh foods were customarily eaten raw by the forest Indians of Alaska or northern Canada. Indeed, the name “Eskimos” is believed by many to have been derived from an Algonquin expression meaning “they eat their meat raw.”

When I went down north along the Mackenzie, in 1906 and 1908, I now and then heard talk of how horrified the Athapaskans had been when they first saw white men of the Northwest Company and Hudson's Bay Company eating the customary British underdone roast meats. In 1910, when we met the Athapaskans northeast of Great Bear Lake — Dogribs, Slaves, and Yellowknives — we found that they were still mildly horrified to see the Hudson's Bay Company Canadian Joseph Hodgson and the Old Country British John Hornby and Cosmo Melvil, who were then living among them, eating rare caribou steaks and roasts.

In a presentation of evidence regarding the views of frontier doctors on the incidence of cancer, it is of consequence to make clear that early testimony regarding the rarity or absence of malignancies is as clear and strong for the forest Indian north as for the grassland Eskimo country. Some of the early medical missionaries — notably Dr. Hutton in Labrador — have inclined to credit a diet of raw flesh with that former absence of cancer in which they believed. To emphasize this point let me quote again Dr. Hutton's book Health Conditions (1925), Page 35:

“Some diseases common in Europe have no t come under my notice ... Of these diseases the most striking is cancer ... In this connection it may be noted that cookery holds a very secondary place in the preparation of food — most of the food is eaten raw ...”

If only Eskimos are considered, in relation to the alleged former absence of cancer, and of these only the Labradorians, then the logical deduction for one who believes nutrition to be fundamental in relation to malignancy, is that actual rawness of food may be the crucially important cancer-inhibiting factor. But the force of this logic diminishes as we go westward from Labrador, among the Eskimos. Without cancer's appearing at all, cooking grows steadily more important as we move west. From Dr. Hutton's and other accounts, the Labradorians, east of Hudson Bay, were the greatest raw-flesh eaters of the whole Eskimo world. West of the Bay the boiling of flesh increases; and inland from the Bay, among the Caribou Eskimos, the roasting of caribou supplements the boiling. At Coronation Gulf, near where Dr. Jenness and I spent the first years during which the Copper Eskimos ever associated closely with Europeans, the years 1910 to 1915, there was considerable summer use of roasting, though the winter cooking, if any, was by boiling. Among the Mackenzie Eskimos, as described from the 1860's by Father Emile Petitot and from the early 1900's by myself, boiling and roasting were both considerable. These methods were even a bit more common in northern Alaska, as described by John Simpson in the 1850's and Murdoch in the 1880's. In southwestern Alaska as described by Dr. Romig in the manuscript he submitted to our Encyclopedia Antarctica, for the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first one of the twentieth, the cooking of flesh foods reached its Eskimo high point.

Yet the mission testimony, starting from Labrador, remains equally clear, from east to west: the medical missionaries all looked for cancer, and they never found it among the “primitive,” though they did find it among the “modernized.”

Thus clarification is important for whoever expects a nutritional key to this Eskimo cancer situation. Among the Athapaska and western Eskimos cooking was hardly ever carried to the point of “well done,” or “boiled to pieces.” Instead the native meats resembled our fashionable roasts, which have a well-done layer on the outside, medium done just under that, and the center pink or red. And so it was with the forest Indians — at least with those Athapaskans from Great Bear Lake to just west of the Mackenzie, with whom I hunted and lived — though they insisted on some cooking, they were in practice as careful as Eskimo cooks to see that the centers of most pieces were pink.

To sum up the raw and cooked-food elements of northern medical missionary theorizing about cancer:

During the time when large numbers of non-Europeanized northern natives were allegedly free of cancer, there was little cooking of flesh foods beyond the degree which we call medium. Among grassland and coastal Eskimos raw flesh eating ranged from a great deal in northern Labrador to a good deal in southwestern Alaska. Only among forest Indians were raw flesh foods avoided, and even among these there was little use of overcooked flesh.

Vegetable foods, where eaten at all, were always raw, among prairie and woodland natives alike. Among Eskimos, vegetable foods were important only in the farthest west — along the west coast of Alaska, among the Aleutians, and along the south coast of Alaska. In the most northerly region from Baffin Island, Canada, to Point Barrow, Alaska, vegetable eating was negligible, except in time of famine. Among woodland Indians, vegetables were negligible with the Athapaskans from the west shore of Hudson Bay to beyond the Mackenzie. In Alaska the eating of raw vegetables by forest Indians increased westward along the northern belt and then increased still more southward, into the country of the Tlingit.

During the time when the medical missionaries reported cancer difficult or impossible to find among large numbers of primitive natives, there was no usual cooking of any vegetables, whether among grassland or forest natives. The cooking of vegetables is part of that Europeanization which is considered by some missionaries to be responsible for the introduction of cancer, or for the change from its being hard to find to its being impossible not to notice.

The European-style application of intense heat to food through frying was new to all northern North American natives.

The Northern Copper Inuit - A History

The Copper Inuit people operate in a remote and frigid landscape and have unique habits to hunt seals and polar bears on the ice. They split up to cover more area and thus share kills between group members, separating seals up into 14 pieces while building large snowhouse communities with many families.

Despite uniformity of culture and language, the various miut displayed minor differences, based upon their adaptation to local resources. While some groups were primarily dependent on seal and polar bear, others focused on caribou and musk oxen. Although people exploited whatever resources happened to be available in their particular region, the pattern of subsistence and social organization was fundamentally the same. At the time of contact the total population of Copper Inuit was probably no more than 800 to 900, scattered over a vast territory of Arctic tundra, probably exceeding 80,000 square miles.


Environment

The environment of the Copper Inuit is mostly treeless Arctic tundra, although some wooded areas can be found in the southernmost reaches of Copper Inuit territory. The climate is severe, with winter temperatures frequently reaching -50 degrees Fahrenheit(-45 degrees C) in some areas. The monthly mean of the coldest month of the year, February, is between -20 and -28 Fahrenheit (-29 degrees C and -33 degrees Celsius) and the monthly mean of the warmest month, July, is in the high forties 7 to 10 C. Precipitation is minimal. Most of this falls as snow and accumulates in high drifts as a result of blowing winds. The amount of sunlight varies dramatically by season. In the Holman reason, for example, the sun drops below the horizon in the third week in November and stays down until January 16th or 17th. During these two months, there is only a brief daily period of twilight at midday which becomes progressively darker and shorter until the winter solstice. In summer, the sun stays above the horizon for an equivalent period, providing, as it circles, long hours of sunlight for people to hunt, fish and travel.

As is true of much of the Canadian Arctic, the tundra ecosystem is characterized by extremely low biological productivity. Significantly less energy is absorbed by the arctic ecosystem, compared with more temperate regions. Almost no energy is absorbed in winter. Even in summer, with the sun above the horizon 24 hours a day, the sun's rays are extremely weak, contributing little radiant energy to either the time or the Marine ecosystem. The net result Arctic operates under a significant energy deficient, with great implications for plant and animals and for the people who depend upon them for survival.

In winter, the straits, sounds, and gulfs in Copper Inuit territory are frozen in a continuous sheet of ice from October or November until July. This is ideal habitat for ring seals, which prefer solid, land fast ice with the early formation in fall and late Break Up In Summer.

Seasonal round

Since the environment was marked as it still is by dramatic seasonal fluctuations in temperature, light duration, snowfall, ice conditions, and game availability, copper Inuit families had to display great flexibility and economic and social organization in order to adapt successfully to the demands of each season. One of the most important phases of copper Inuit life was the winter season of breathing hole sealing. this was the coldest and the darkest time of year and it tested the Inuits ability to survive such harsh conditions large snow house communities typically formed out on the sea ice in locations close to good sealing grounds.  movement onto the ice was accomplished as soon as ice conditions became stable enough for travel and camping, ideally by late November or early December. These snow house Villages buried in size from about 50 individuals to as many as 150. Damas (1984:400)  estimates that the mean size range from about 91 to 117. Most of the people who resided in the snow house Villages were related, either closely or distantly, but many non-relatives were included as well. Villages moved when sealing became unproductive, with smaller groups occasionally splitting off.

Camping in Winter

Ruth Nigiyonak. I remember camping in the winter season out on the Frozen sea ice. As a child, during the winter, the people never stayed on land. When winter came, the people moved out on the ice. For the winter, the people would build large snow house with a big work space in the center. From the sides, they would build tunnels. At the end of each tunnel, a family would built their living quarters. The center was a workspace or a place to gather for games, drum dances, and stories. That was repeated each year.

During the winter, an elaborate system of seal-sharing among both kin and nonkin was the dominant form of food distribution. Breathing-hole sealing requires a degree of cooperation among hunters, who dispersed over a wide area to cover as many breathing holes as possible. Since each seal maintains a number of breathing holes, this strategy maximizes the chances that at least one hunter from a group would be successful. Once caught, the seal is divided into 12 to 14 Parts, each part given to a predetermined exchange partner who would reciprocate sometime in the future with the same body part. Names were applied to seal sharing Partners based on the animal part exchanged: flipper companion, liver companion, and so forth. A man's co-sharing partners were usually assigned by parents and other adults at the time of a hunter's first kill. Kinship factors were irrelevant to such partnerships since both kin and nonkin could be included in these networks.

Winter subsistence pursuits also included polar bear hunting and some areas, the importance of which for subsistence varied from year to year depending upon availability. The Copper Inuit who entered between Banks Island and Northwestern Victoria Island relied more heavily upon polar bear than other Copper Inuit groups.

Winter was an important time for Community social festivities, which were included in a large ceremonial snow house or qagli.  Because cold, darkness, and the frequent blizzards limited the amount of time that men could stay out hunting, people would pass their time playing games, drum dancing, and occasionally observing shamanic performances. Given the size of some snow house communities, it was not unusual for the qigli to be bursting with observers and participants. The copper Inuit spent much of the spring, summer, and early fall wandering on the tundra and small family groups, and winter presented the climax of community social life.

With the arrival of warmer weather and longer daylight hours in April and May, the Copper Inuit started hunting for basking seals. This was a more individualistic pursuit, requiring the hunter to walk and crawl great distances to Harpoon seals basking next to a crack or seal hole. Breathing hole ceiling, as well, continued into May, and some copper and you it made excursions to hunt polar bears as their hibernation ended. By Spring, the large snow house communities usually started to break into smaller groups each headed in a different direction. Movement was initially along the coastline, because the tundra would still be wet and unpleasant for travel. Eventually, the ocean ice was abandoned altogether, marking the beginning of the Inland phase of the yearly cycle. The abandonment of snow houses in Spring is understandable. As warmer weather conditions made the interior wet and uncomfortable, modified snow houses were made. He's consisted of the lower half of a snow house with a skin roof over it. As the year progresses, skin test tents replaced those these modified snow houses as people moved up to the land.

The Northern Copper Inuit - A History

At that instance, the Inuit immediately rushed to the caribou that was shot down. In no time at all, the fresh killed carcass was devoured by the Inuit. The white man started in disbelief at the way the carcass disappeared so swiftly. The reason the Inuit devoured the caribou so quickly was because it was a change in diet. Their main staple food all winter was seal meat.

Until the first decade of the twentieth century, contact with the Inuit of western Victoria Island and eastern Banks Island was sporadic. McClure, Collinson, Klengenberg, and Mogg offer little detailed information concerning the culture, population, or movements of the people they met. The published works of the noted anthropologist and explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson offer the first detailed information about the Copper Inuit.


Stefansson had been at Herschel Island on his first arctic expedition when Klengenberg returned in 1906 from his trading expedition to Victoria Island. As an anthropologist, Stefansson was most interested in the stories Klengenberg and his crew told about this "new group" of Inuit. Klengenberg reported that the people dressed in parkas with long tails in the back, that they used weapons and tools made out of copper, that most of them had never seen a white man (except for the very oldest, who reported seeing Collinson in the winter of 1851/1852), and that Victoria Island abounded in copper. Since Klengenberg had traded extensively with these Inuit, he was able to show Stefansson and others his collection of Kangiryuarmiut knives hammered out of native copper, finely made bows with sinew backing, quivers full of arrows tipped with copper, and dozens of suits of clothing expertly sewn with copper needles (Stefansson 1906).


In his book My Life with the Eskimo (1913), Stefansson writes of having arrived at a small island near the south shore of Prince Albert Sound:


From the top of the island the next morning I could with the glasses see a native village on the ice ten or fifteen miles to the northwest, approximately in the middle of Prince Albert Sound. When we approached it we saw this to be the largest village of our whole experience. It turned out that there were twenty-seven dwelling houses in it. We had, of course, seen the ruined trading village at Cape Bexley [on the southern shore of Dolphin and Union Strait], which had over fifty dwellings, bu these had been the houses of traders from half a dozen or more different tribes, while this turned out to be the one tribe of the Kanghirgyuargmiut, and they were not all at home either, for later on we visited another village of three houses of the same people, and a third village of four houses we never saw at all (Stefansson 1913: 278).


Stefansson and Natkusiak approached the village and were met several miles south of it by a group of three hunters who had been seal hunting on the ice. The three hunters seemed a little timid at first, but indicated that Stefansson and Natkusiak had come from the southeast, a country inhabited by their neighbors, the Puivlirmiut, "who were now and then in the habit of arriving by the same route as ours, and at this season of the year, for purposes of trade" (Stefansson 1913:279). Stefansson and Natkusiak assured them that they had originated from the southwest but were arriving from the southeast simply because they had been visiting the Haneragmiut to the south. Stefansson added that they belonged to the same group of people who had visited several years before in a large schooner--the Olga. The three hunters remembered the Olga and had liked its crew. 


First White Men

Willam Kuptana. The first encounter with white men was at Kangiqyuak[Prince Albert Sound]... That was the first time they ever saw white people. The white people were Billy Banksland[Natkusiak--actually an Inuk from Alaska] and his partner. That was also the first time the rifle was introduced to the Inuit. He advised the Inuit that the gun was dangerous. He told the Inuit not the handle the rifles.


Incidentally, the herd of caribou were crossing from Banks Island to Victoria Island near the settlement where the Inuit were camped. Billy Banksland's partner ran forward to intercept the herd. He then abruptly aimed and fired the rifle and struck down one caribou. At that instance, the Inuit immediately rushed to the caribou that was shot down. In no time at all, the fresh killed carcass was devoured by the Inuit. 


The white man started in disbelief at the way the carcass disappeared so swiftly. The reason the Inuit devoured the caribou so quickly was because it was a change in diet. Their main staple food all winter was seal meat. 


The Northern Copper Inuit - A history

Copper Inuit religion was concerned with the here and now and a goddess named Arnapkapfaaluk 'big bad woman' that allocated seals to those hunters that carefully followed the taboos. Those that take part in a kill must share it in order to not embarrass the animal spirit.

As with many other Inuit groups, Copper Inuit religion was more concerned with the here and now than with an afterlife. Most important was the relationship between humans and the spirits of the animals upon which humans depended for food. It was essential that the proper rituals be followed, so as not to offend these spirits, who are perceived as being much like humans. An animal spirit that had been offended through the violation of a taboo or the omission of an important ritual might decide to take revenge upon the group as a whole. Illness, starvation, or some other disaster could result. Copper Inuit observed a number of taboos which were believed to be important to maintaining good relations with the spirit world. A number of observances were related to the separation of land animals and sea animals. Copper Inuit were prohibited for cooking products of the land and sea in the same pot. Nor could they place seal meat next to caribou meat on the sleeping platform of the snow house.  Most pronounced was the prohibition against sewing caribou skin clothing during the early winter. All winter clothing had to be prepared in the fall, at the gathering places, and completed before the move to the sealing grounds on the sea ice.

In addition to believing in the spirits of animals and the shades of deceased humans, the Copper Inuit subscribe to a world inhabited by wondrous and often dangerous creatures dwarfs, giants, and Caribou people. They believed in a sea goddess (known as Sedna in other regions) who control the animals of the Seas. Arnapkapfaaluk, or 'big bad woman,' was not a benevolent goddess looking out for human beings: when offended by the violation of a taboo or some indiscriminate action, she would withhold the seals upon which people depended for survival.

Animal spirits

William Kuptana: The custom of the Eskimos is that when they take part in a hunt and make a kill, all who hunted the animal must participate in the cutting and sharing of the carcass. Those who do not follow that custom embarrass the animal spirit; therefore, it is believed that the non-participant will be hunted himself.

Death was not accompanied by elaborate ceremony. In Winter, the body was usually left behind and it's no house, while in summer, the body was wrapped in skins and left on the time go. The concept of an afterlife was not well developed. Jenness reported that it was definitely not viewed as a land of joy and plenty, but a "big and gloomy realm where, even if want and misery are not found (and of this they are not certain), joy and gladness at least must surely be unknown." (Jenness 1922: 190)

Shamans (angatkut) Served as important intermediaries between humans in the spirit world. Shamans provided a number of essential functions. They could act as healers, in the event of an illness, or could determine what taboos were violated When Animals became scarce. They were also believed to have powers for controlling the weather and warding off evil spirits. The shaman, acting as an intermediary, could communicate with animal spirits, often doing so with the aid of a spirit helper or familiar. Most angatkut claimed to have more than one helper. Jenness met one Copper Inuit shaman, Uloksak, who claimed to have a white man, a polar bear, a wolf, and a dog as helping Spirits. Shamans could be either male or female, but no matter what their gender they were expected to have some kind of visionary experience whereby a spirit helper revealed itself to the future angatkut. In their shamanistic performances, shamans may have relied upon ventriloquism and other dramatic acts to impress their audiences and demonstrate their powers. Shamans by definition are neither good nor bad. Some angatkut developed reputations for kindness and generosity;  others were greatly feared and used their powers to gain advantage over others.

The Northern Copper Inuit - A History

Fatty caribou are prized by Eskimos, especially during the late summer, but the time involves periods of feasting and fasting as game is scarce. Kuptana describes how a chisel tool is used by a young man on his first kill to open the brain of a freshly killed caribou for a feast. The hunting party dedicated all their time to hunting and storing caribou meat for later in the autumn when food is scarce.

Caribou Hunting


William Kuptana: I remember being packed going inland in the summer. When we were out of food, we'd eat seal fat out of the pouch. My parents would also carry a sealskin bag filled with seal blood. We'd drink out of that when were thirsty.


While we were treking inland, food would become scarce. My parents killed a lemming and cooked it. I didn't want to eat it, but they talked to me so I had to eat it. I didn't want to be left behind. We'd keep walking and looking for caribou. When we'd come to a lake that was still frozen over, they would make an agluaq (fishing hole). Hook and spear were used to catch fish. By fishing, that would prevent us from starving. Also, when the ice is gone in the river, they would fish by using spears and wading in after them. 


After that, we would go wandering off into the land looking for caribou. We had no guns. Finally, when we found a small herd, the men would then build a small projection of stone slabs on a high point of land to act as a rouse to statle the fleeing caribou. The women would advance toward the caribou, humming as they approached the herd. As the caribou approached the lair where the men were hiding, the men would then kill the closest ones, the ones that they could reach.


The kill meant, "Feast." The family would eat everything: stomach, entrails, marrow. For instance, the entrails would be cleaned out and then cooked. After they were cooked, the entrails would be eaten with seal oil. The extra meat would be cut up to make dried meat. 


The warm summer months were not a time of plenty for the Copper Inuit. As Diamond Jenness (1922:123-124) noted: "The traveller will find scattered families reaming about from place to place, here today and gone tomorrow in their restless search for game. Days of feasting alternate with days of fasting according to their failure or success. No fowl of the air, no creature of the land, no fish of the waters is too great or too small to attract their notice at this time."


The scarcity of food in spring and summer was partially alleviated in the late summer/early fall(August and September) when caribou hunting accelerated. At this time of year the caribou are fattest and their hides are ideals for making clothes. Usually a number of families would cooperate in the hunting of caribou using caribou drives set up on the tundra. These drives usually consisted of rows of stone piles set up in tow converging lines. Women and children chased the caribou with lances and arrows. Another technique, more commonly used on the mainland, involved hunting caribou from kayaks at crossing places in lakes. If a caribou drive was successful, much of the meat would be dried and stored for use during the lean autumn months. 


First Hunt


William Kuptana: When I first killed a caribou, my biological father started wrestling with me as it is a custom to try to put a young hunter on top of the caribou corpse. After that, the hunting party told me to get the ulimuan [ a chisel-like instrument with a blade at a forty-five degree angle from the handle]. So I got one out of the pack-sack to open its head as it is a custom that a young man do that for a first kill. After I had chopped its skull, the elders started eating its inner membrane, or as it is usually called, the brain. Then, after the feast, the hunting party resumed their search for the tuktuvialuit (Banks Island Caribou). From spring to autumn, the hunting party would kill, store, and go on searching until it was too cold to hunt. Finally, returning to their wintering grounds, they'd wait for winter huddled in their sealskin tents for a time. 



The Northern Copper Inuit - A History

Kuptana describes how Eskimos would congregate to catch fatty char in weirs and collect them through October and then meet near the forming ice to make winter gear and hunting equipment.

Early fall, however, was a productive time for spear fishing in rivers and streams. This was the time of year in many river systems when arctic char returned to lakes after spending much of the summer feeding in the ocean. The char were fattest at this time of year and hence a desirable food item. Families arrived at fishing sites eraly enough to repair the stone weirs, which might have been disturbed the previous winter by ice movement. The repair work completed, families waited for the run to start. In areas with large char runs, a number of families might congregate. A successful fishing season was marked by great numbers of filleted fish hung to dry. Much of this fish, as well as the caribou, was stored for use during late fall and early winter. 


Autumn

William Kuptana: When fall approached, they [Inuit] treked back to their wintering grounds. Along the way when they killed caribou, they built stone caches to store the food for winter. The cache also served as protection from scavengers such as wolves and foxes. Sometmmies, too, depending on the weather, the caribou meat was cut up to make more dried meat. The dried meat was lighter to carry and fermentation didn't take place as quickly as it did with raw meat if not eaten right away. 


When they arrived in the vicinity of their wintering grounds, they started fishing through the frozen ice on the lakes. Arctic char was baited by a polar bear tooth, then speared. The fish was then scooped with a sealskin bag wrapped to a wooden or bone handle by a sealskin thong. They filled those bags with fish. The preferred catch was male fish and the preferred area of fishing was in the spawning areas.

Fishing for char was done through October when the ice got too thick to chop through. 


As the fall season brought colder and windier weather, groups generally met at traditional fall gathering places where women prepared the winter's clothing. Once families moved out onto the ice, women were forbidden to sew, and all had to be accomplished at the gathering place. While women prepared the clothing, men made ready the winter hunting equipment. Hunting and fishing continued, but on a limited scale. At this time of year, game was relatively scarce. Often, families had to live on accumulated food reserves. Once ice conditions permitted the migration on to the ice, the winter season of sealing and polar bear hunting would commence. 

The Northern Copper Inuit - A History

An Eskimo named Kuptana remembers the hunting of his first two ducks with a bow and arrow and remarked on the difficulty it to catch even three of them.

Eider Duck Hunt


William Kuptana: The first duck I got was from a small pond. It was shared by the elders as tradition called for. It is a custom to share your first kill with your elders. When the ducks come up in the spring, because of the lack of open water along the shore, they are found mostly on the mainland. This is where I got my first eider duck. Later, I was with a group of hunters. We came upon a large flock of eiders. They had alighted on the shore lead and were resting and feeding. As we approached, some flew away, while others dove into the water. We immediately advance as swiftly as possible before the ducks emerged from the water. I waited for the ducks to come up for air. As they came up, I was lucky enough to get one by using a bow and arrow. That was my second duck. It was so difficult to hunt ducks with bows and arrows in those days that if a person got at least three ducks, it was considered a large catch. 


Once spring arrived, Copper Inuit families spread out over a large area of the tundra, seeking fish and waterfowl. Although caribou were also beginning to return in both small and large herds, they were infrequently hunted in early summer due to leanness and the poor quality of their skins. Before the introduction of firearms, the number of ducks and geese harvested was probably quite small. Most food in the early summer came from fishing. In certain areas, such as Victoria Island, most fishing was done on inland lakes, where it was especially productive as the ice began to melt along the lakeshore. In other areas, mostly on the mainland, Copper Inuit had access to early summer runs of char which were intercepted at stone weirs built in streams and rivers. The Copper Inuit prepared dried lake-trout and char for use throughout summer and fall. 

Book of the Eskimos

Peter Freuchen and Knud Rasmussen take part in a food orgy where fermented narwhale skin kept in a meat cache for several years is shared. This is called rotten mattack and tastes like walnuts and roquefort cheese.

I was early acquainted with the magnificent hospitality of the Polar Eskimos. Knud Rasmussen and I even skipped unloading the little ship Motor in which we went to Thule together in order to take part in a food orgy which he got started by announcing that he had been longing to taste the good things the place had to offer. We were invited to Uvdluriak's and there for the first time I tasted rotten mattak. This dish, which is a great delicacy for the Eskimos, consists of huge flakes of narwhale skin that have been kept in meat caches for several years. In the low temperature they do not become rancid, they just ferment, so that the skin tastes very much like walnuts while the blubber, turned quite green, tastes sharp—almost like roquefort cheese. Next we went to the house of Tornge, who served caribou meat with tallow. Knud let it be known that he would consider it an offense not to visit all the other tents, where people no doubt were expecting us with such specialties as they had in store. At last, we were so gorged that we both lay down on the bunk where we happened to be and fell asleep. We were awakened by a message from the irate captain of Motor, who asked us if we had any intentions of further activity in this place.

Book of the Eskimos

The role of women at feasts of the Hudson Bay Eskimos is described while the men share boiled meat.

Among the Hudson Bay Eskimos, the women are not allowed to take part in these feasts. It is thought that boiled meat is man's food, too good for women to have, and a man would make himself ridiculous if he ate it in the company of his family. No, he goes outside his house and announces loudly that there is boiled meat. This is an invitation for all the other men in the village to come to a feast. With serious faces, they form a single file and enter the house of their host. They have their big knives in their hands and hold them up in front of themselves like sabres. Inside the house, they take position in a circle without saying a word.

The host begins the proceedings by making a little speech that is always approximately the same: "Alas, I have waited so long before inviting you because I was embarrassed on account of my bad house. I do not know how to build houses as big and handsome as yours. Moreover, I have nothing decent to offer you. The rest of you, you are used to catching young, fresh, and good-tasting animals; I must be content with half-dead carrions that are an insult to the palate. And finally I have only the miserable wife who sits here. She is unfit for any work, and she is particularly impossible at cooking meat, so this meal is going to be a terrible scandal for my house."

Whereupon the men sit down, and the wife starts serving the meat. This is her only function at the meal. She has a kind of fork made from a caribou antler or a walrus rib, with which she lifts a lump of meat from the pot. She then licks it carefully so that soup and blood won't drip too much over her husband's fingers.

The husband takes the meat and puts it in his mouth—or at least, as much as he has room for. He then cuts off the rest and hands it to his neighbor, who cuts off a mouthful and passes it on to the next man in the circle. The lump of meat keeps circling like this until it is eaten up, and the host receives a new lump from his wife. It is desirable to have a little fat with the meat from time to time, so the host cuts off a piece of blubber and sends it around the circle in the same manner. The men rub the various pieces around on their faces so that the blood and smear often cover even the foreheads. If a piece is lost on the floor, the man who picks it up is expected to lick it clean. Water to drink with the food is provided in a basin made of walrus skin or seal skin. The water is from melted snow, but it is far from crystal clear, for it has been melted in the same pots the meat is cooked in. And these pots never get washed, only wiped off with a piece of skin at every new moon. The water is therefore brown like thin coffee, and on its surface caribou hairs, matches, and other little things are afloat. On these occasions my beard was very useful, as I let it sift the water for me. Afterward, when I wiped the beard with my hand and saw the amount of dirt and slime it contained, I was ever so happy that I had avoided using the razor.

As you may easily understand, I much preferred life with the Thule Eskimos. There, the fair sex were allowed to enliven the parties with their charm, the pots were kept fairly clean without any consideration of the position of the moon, there was always freshly melted water, and each man got his individual piece of food untouched by others except, perhaps, the hostess, who handed it to him only to press him to eat more.

The Northern Copper Inuit - A history

The transcribed words of Sam Oliktoak and Rene Taipana, Eskimo elders, describe how they would travel according to the best fishing and hunting patterns of the region, even waiting for the caribou to grow longer and thicker hair for better clothing. In a world of ice and meat, they were dependent upon the animals and a deep knowledge of how to survive.

Traveling

Rene Taipana: When I first remember. My first memories--like when I first woke up myself. People in the spring would gather at the coast. It was in the spring-–like this time of year. We would travel to a lake and stay there until late spring waiting for the land to dry up so we could hunt caribou. We would fish and get an occasional caribou for meat while waiting for the hair of the caribou to become good for clothing. That's how people lived back then. And when the land was good to travel on and when the caribou hair and skin were good, we traveled inland hunting for caribou - for clothing and food. We fished along the way, going to where there are kiidjiyuq [ fish that sit in warm water] in the mouths of rivers and along the shores of lakes. We lived inland until it started to get dark out. We used to live on the land that way throughout the summer. And when it was around the end of August or September, we would start our gradual trip back to the coast. When the caribou hair is thick, we would hunt for those caribou with a thick hair for the outer parka called qullitaq. That's when the weather is starting to get cold. That's when we started our walk back to the ocean.

At that time, the beginning of a trip back to the coast was called hivuqamuyuq. When the lakes started to freeze over, then we would know it was around the Fall season. We made sleds where they are caribou skins which were called uniutik [skins dragged on the ground] rather than alliak. And then it's late fall. That's when the ground starts to freeze over and we leave our trip from hunting Caribou with the thick hair and descend to the coast. That trip was called ataupluta. That was our way of life.

When we got to the coast, we built our igloos. We finished building our igloos at a place where we left our spring caches of seal fat from seals caught the previous winter. Our caches were for the specific time of year when we head back for the coastline. That's where we camped while we sewed clothing to use when the sun starts to shine again after Christmas. That clothing was to be worn then.

Sam Oliktoak. In the fall, when the ocean first freezes up along the coastline, we built snow houses and later clothing. At the end of Christmas, when we have done our clothing, we headed out on the ice. Before we left for the ice, we spent a day playing games and feasting. Food of all kinds was gathered and prepared. That's how we feasted then.

Renee Taipana: Nattiqut. That's what we called the platform on which the food was placed on top of a sealskin. We feasted in a snow house built for that purpose every year.

Sam Oliktoak. We built three snow houses. In the middle to connect the three, we built a large snowhouse. This is where the dancing took place and the playing of games--in the center of the igloo. Some akhunaaq [thongs made from sealskin] were put up for people to swing on.

Renee Taipana: My parents would talk about those times. Those are the times that I remember. They danced with a qilaut, an Eskimo drum.

Sam Oliktoak: They would gather there to play games and dance for one bit one day. They danced until late at night and after that day, we were all ready to travel down onto the ocean. We had to wait for the sea ice to be covered with hard packed snow so we could build snow houses out on the ice. We also had to wait until the snow on the ice was good for drinking water.

Renee Taipana: That's right. We had to wait until our snow wasn't salty-tasting for snow water. Even without any doctors, people knew back then that the snow on the sea ice is salty with the first snowfall. So they didn't go out on the ice right away.

The Northern Copper Inuit - A History

Jenness describes the hunting and fishing habits of the Northern Copper Inuit and was impressed by their ability to endure long walks without food in the hunt for caribou. The effect of the white men's economic habits start to make the Eskimos dependent upon civilization for survival, while making famines less likely.

Jenness did not make it to Prince Albert Sound But he had satisfied his curiosity that the Prince Albert people were as to language and culture very similar to The Copper Inuit of Dolphin and Union Strait. Toward the end of the summer Jenness and his adopted family made the slow migration back to the southern coast fishing and hunting caribou along the way. At that time of year food shortages were common and the Inuit would go for days without sighting caribou or catching fish. Jenness was impressed by the endurance and patience of his traveling companions the experience [of starvation] was no novelty in their lives they merely tighten their belts trudge steadily forward a dozen or 15 miles and said smiling smiling lately if we sight no Caribou today we will tomorrow or if not tomorrow certainly the day after (Jenness 1928:219).

After his extended research visit to the land of the copper Inuit, Jenness wrote two definitive books about the people with whom he lived and traveled: The Life of the Copper Eskimo(1922) and The People of the Twilight(1928). Stefannson, working to the north, and Jenness, to the South, documented well the traditional culture of the Copper Inuit. The scholarship was completed just in time, for the isolation of the Copper Inuit was soon shattered permanently by the activities of traitors, missionaries, and other representatives of southern culture. As Jenness wrote years later in his epilogue to The People of the Twilight:


Even as we sailed away traders enter.e their country seeking fox-furs; and for those pelts so useless for real clothing they offered rifles, shot-guns, steel tools, and other Goods that promise to make life easier so the Eskimos abandoned their communal seal hunts and scattered and isolated families along the coast in order to trap white foxes during the winter when the fur of that animal reaches its prime. Their dispersal loosened the old communal ties that had held the families together. The men no longer labored for the entire group, but hunted and trapped each one for his family alone... The commercial world of the white man had caught the Eskimos and its mesh destroying their self-sufficiency and independence, and made them economically its slaves. Only in one respect did it benefit them: it lessened the danger of those unpredictable famines which had overtaken them every 10 or 15 years, bringing suffering and death to young and old without distinction (Jenness 1928:240).

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