Historical Events

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Alualuk had then been a shaman in possession of half a dozen familiar spirits which enabled him to cure diseases, wake people from the dead, and perform various miracles with the greatest ease. He told me now that since I saw him last he had become a Christian, had renounced all his familiar spirits, and was now as powerless as I or any other man in dealing with the things of the other world.

April 11, 1912

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My Life with the Eskimo - Chapter 25

Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Biblical Fundamentalism
Christianization
Religion
Eskimo

On the morning of April 11th early we started on our westward march again. By fast travel we reached the eastern edge of the Mackenzie delta proper at eight in the evening and lodged at the house of an old friend of mine, Alualuk (mentioned before), whom I had known on my first expedition in 1906. Alualuk had then been a shaman in possession of half a dozen familiar spirits which enabled him to cure diseases, wake people from the dead, and perform various miracles with the greatest ease. He told me now that since I saw him last he had become a Christian, had renounced all his familiar spirits, and was now as powerless as I or any other man in dealing with the things of the other world. He told me that not only had he found it an inconvenience to be without the assistance of the spirits which had served him so long and efficiently, but he also missed them as one misses a friend who is dead or who has gone away , for his association with them had been so intimate. Also, he said, the spirits grieved at having been separated from him and he pitied them in their loneliness . Some of them had been moved to anger rather than to grief at being cast out; one or two of them, in fact, would lose no opportunity of doing him harm if they could, so that he had to be very watchful in saying his prayers and keeping the commandments of the Christian Church in order to assure himself of the protection of Jesus from the wiles and meditated attacks of these his former servants. He reminded me that, as I no doubt knew , he had waked Taiakpanna from the dead when he had died a few years ago. That was while the spirits served him. Now Taiakpanna had died again and this time he ( Alualuk ) had been powerless to wake him from the dead. He could now only weep for the loss of his friend and pray that his soul might have found salvation . We were entertained for a day most hospitably by Alualuk's family. They were living comfortably for the present, with an abundance of fish to eat, but they complained much of prospective poverty, for they had been able to get very few foxes and would have little with which to buy tea and tobacco the following summer.