Historical Events

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Against this background what the Nunamiuts have to tell is of interest. Paniaq says that in the past the people lived mainly on musk oxen.

November 1, 1949

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Nunamuit: Among Alaska's Inland Eskimos

Helge Ingstad

Man The Fat Hunter
Human Predatory Pattern
Facultative Carnivore
Eskimo
Carnivore Diet

The musk ox, that queer shaggy creature of prehistoric appearance, is not found in Alaska.


Some musk-ox horns have been found on the tundra north of the Brooks Mountains, and the Nunamiuts, among other things, have come upon several. A very old Eskimo at Point Barrow told me that there were no musk ox in his time nor in his father's, but that there were in his grandfather's. 


Against this background what the Nunamiuts have to tell is of interest. Paniaq says that in the past the people lived mainly on musk oxen. He also tells an old story which confirms this. He adds: "The musk oxen disappeared eastward because they were hunted so much. Old people say that when this animal has been hunted one way it continues to go in that direction."


Thus it seems that the musk ox was exterminated in Alaska about a hundred years ago. When the Eskimos came upon a herd, it was doomed. The musk ox is helpless against men; it often stands still and lets itself be slaughtered. Thus it is quite reasonable to suppose that in northern Alaska the species was wiped out in quite early times.