Historical Events

Further evidence of old age Labrador Eskimos exists.

Superintendent Peacock's letter is dated at Happy Valley, Labrador, March 25, 1959

 On receiving Professor Laughlin's letters, I sent copies of them along to Superintendent the Reverend F. W. Peacock, M.A., Moravian Mission, Labrador. His records go back well toward 1771, the founding date of the mission; and there are several stations. Knowing that I had available only limited comparison figures for the Aleutians, he sent me only records from his Hopedale community and covering only the same years as Veniaminov's. 


Superintendent Peacock's letter is dated at Happy Valley, Labrador, March 25, 1959:

“Upon receipt of your letter I went to the records of the Hopedale [mission] from 1822-36. I discovered that 


110 people were born during this period ... 

29 died before reaching the age of 10 years; 

9 died between the ages of 11 and 15; 

4 between the ages of 16 and 20; 

6 between 21 and 25; 

7 between 26 and 30; 

10 between 31 and 35; 

4 between 36 and 40; 

8 between 41 and 45; 

2 between 46 and 50; 

10 between 51 and 55; 

4 between 56 and 60; 

4 between 61 and 65; 

8 between 66 and 70; 

4 between 71 and 75; 

1 reached the age of 79.


“From 1860 to 1879 there were 150 births in the same district, of which number 79 died before they were 5 years old, and a further 10 before they were 10 years old. Another 30 died before they were 60 years old; 30 died between the ages of 61 and 82. One is still living at the age of 81 [in March 1959] ...”

We have examined, then, the mortality records of 1822-36 for 1,170 cases from Alaska and 110 from Labrador. The base line of our immediate concern we shall take at 60, because of the assertion that “a primitive Eskimo over the age of 50 is a great rarity.”


According to our Russian information on 1,170 Aleutian Eskimo births, 46 died in the decade immediately past 60, 34 in the one past 70, 20 in the one past 80, and only 2 lived past 90.


According to our Moravian information on 110 Labrador Eskimo births, 8 died in the decade next past 60 and 5 in the one next past 70, only one of these reaching 79.

Thus the most nearly “primitive” sample group I was able to obtain does not support Dr. Keys very strongly in his contention that “a primitive Eskimo over the age of 50 is a great rarity.” Nor does it quite confirm Dr. Greist's statement that “the Eskimo of the North ... lived to a very great age.” More nearly do the largely non-Europeanized natives of Veniaminov and Peacock accord with the Biblical: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten ..

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