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Trapping in enclosures and hunting from the kayak were of special value to the Eskimos; they could thus obtain large quantities of meat at one stroke and provide for the future. Hunting with bows and arrows was also important, but to a lesser degree.

February 15, 1950

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Nunamiut, Among Alaska's Inland Eskimos

Helge Ingstad

Man The Fat Hunter
Facultative Carnivore
Eskimo
Carnivore Diet

At another place I found the remains of a kangiraq, i.e. a large enclosure into which caribou are driven. These were usually set up on a height near a river and might be a hundred yards or more in diameter, consisting of a number of tall willow rods driven into the earth or snow. Along the inside of this enclosure snares are made of animals' skins were placed at suitable intervals and fastened to a stone or stick. There were usually several enclosures, one inside another; the maximum number was four, and then the contrivance was called a sisamailik. There were snares along each line totalling several hundreds.


The caribou found their way to the gate by following two lines of cairns which began several miles out in the open country, and which led across the river up the slope to the enclosure. Close to it there might be two snow walls. Thus a "street" was formed outside which the animals did not venture; far from the enclosure it was broad, and then gradually became narrower. 


A herd of caribou had to be driven into this "street" often from a long way off; there are stories of drives which took several days. The drivers worked together, running continually. This was child's play to them, thoroughly trained as they were.


When the caribou had at last been driven up the slope towards the enclosure, people ran up from both sides, clapping their hands, hooting, and yelling. The beasts rushed in panic throught he opening and into the inner enclosure. A number went straight into the snares; others broke through the willows into the other enclosures and were snared there. Some of the hunters sent a rain of arrows at the beasts trying to escape, while others were busy with their flint spears. There was sometimes a large bag, which was divided equally among the families participating.


The Nunamiuts used this method for capture especially in the months of February and March, for that was usually the most difficult time with caribou and it was light enough for a long drive.


Trapping in enclosures and hunting from the kayak were of special value to the Eskimos; they could thus obtain large quantities of meat at one stroke and provide for the future. Hunting with bows and arrows was also important, but to a lesser degree.