Historical Events

twitter-icon_edited.png
Copy Link

The Eskimo of Banks Island and Prince Albert Sound would live chiefly on polar bears through the winter because they didn't know how to hunt caribou on the ice.

May 13, 1911

rollo-meat-diabetes_edited.jpg

My Life with the Eskimo - Chapter 18

Facultative Carnivore
Eskimo
Carnivore Diet

Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Range of the Kanghirgyuargmiut. In summer some of them (a few) hunt towards Minto Inlet; some hunt southeast and meet the Puiblirgmiut; most, however, hunt east and meet the Ekallugtogmiut and Ashiagmiut who live “on the east coast of our country, which is not far from here overland, and good sledding because we go by the rivers.” Some join the Ekallugtogmiut for a time and with them visit the Arkilinik (near Baker Lake above the head of Chesterfield Inlet] “where there are trees, and where the people have guns and white men's clothes.” (Have seen many metal articles, one shirt, one red knit woollen hood, etc., brought from these trips. ) They never met the Nagyuktogmiut. One man at least — Hitkoak has been both to the Akilinik and to Umingmuktok.


In the fall they (the Kanghirgyuargmiut] come to Prince Albert Sound and proceed to Banks Island where in winter they live chiefly on bears (some entirely; others partly on seals) off Nelson Head and east of it. When bear hunting they often see Cape Parry [on the mainland to the south ]. Nelson Head can be seen from Parry only from the hill tops, and that rarely, and it is much higher than Parry, so they must hunt almost to the middle of the strait.


They usually have houses on or by the shore when in Banks Island. They often see caribou but “do not know how to hunt them in winter.” They know there are musk-oxen inland but they do not go after them. In spring they return to the Sound and soon scatter to the various hunting places. Those going to the Ekallugtogmiut are already on the way intended starting the day after we came to the village and delayed for us). Those going north towards Minto do not leave the sea till “ the snow gets soft on the ice.” Wednesday, May 17. Have given up going farther in direction of Banks Island, as there are no people that way. Started 3:30 P.M. heading for Cape Back about true southwest. Camped 7:30 P.M. to get chance to write up some of my briefer notes before the fillings-in are forgotten or misremembered. Game. No seals seen on top the ice -- ugrug (bearded seals) are to be expected nearer land and seals are not up yet. Crossed about 400 or 500 caribou tracks, i of them over a week old. Migration seems over, or at least there is a lull. Saw three bands of eight, seven, and three. The latter two Natkusiak tried but got shot at last only three misses on the run at 200 yards. Ptarmigan seen every day, mostly ( or all ?) rock ptarmigan. Crows every day. No snow buntings since leaving Walliraluk. Distance traveled: 12 miles.


Pamiungittok tells : The Banks Island people used to be well off. They killed so many deer and [musk ] oxen that their dried meat sometimes lasted the year round. They got to killing each other. One man killed had relatives in the Sound. For this reason (i.e. because of witchcraft practised by the dead man's relatives in the Sound ) food became scarce [ in Banks Island ); there were no seals for food or fuel and the people died of hunger -those that had not been murdered in the feuds. This happened some fifteen years ago i.e. when Agleroittok (who is now about twenty - five) was a boy but [after] his two brothers (were] grown up.