Historical Event

Labrador Eskimos' muscles are rested by a shorter period of sleep than is customary among civilized peoples. Men and women alike show the power of withstanding fatigue.

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This “inevitable doom” must have seemed even blacker to the Moravian medical missionaries who had dreamed it could be staved off indefinitely by avoiding the Europeanization of the food — by inducing healthy people to remain healthy through continuing to eat the raw foods which they loved and which they could secure in ample quantity from their own land and waters.

Ruefully Superintendent Peacock admits that the best they were able to do was to slow up Europeanization by a few generations. Among the first subversive influences, tending toward eventual dependence on the white man, was the fact that the Eskimos contracted first the tobacco habit and then the tea habit. Thereafter followed gradually the use of bread, salt, and sugar; then came increased cooking and the use of hot drinks. Still it was possible as late as the period 1902-13 for Dr. Hutton to conclude from his own observation that “cookery holds a very secondary place in the preparation of food.”

While he makes this observation on cooking as part of a suggested explanation as to why he could find no hearsay or other sign of cancer among the Labrador Eskimos, Dr. Hutton also makes, elsewhere, the general observations on the health of the Labrador Eskimo that “... his muscles are rested by a shorter period of sleep than is customary among civilized peoples. Men and women alike show the power of withstanding fatigue.” So long as their diet continued to consist exclusively of their own fresh foods, hardly cooked or raw, their robust health broke down only when they were exposed to European diseases against which they had no inherited immunity, such as the deadly measles and the almost equally deadly tuberculosis. But on the Europeanized diet they became prey to a swarm of other new diseases.

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