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The Sound people are evidently the most prosperous Eskimo we have seen; they are the most "travelled” and the best informed about their own country (Victoria Island) and its surroundings. Dietary habits surrounding bear, musk-ox, fish, seals, and even macu roots are discussed.

May 16, 1911

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My Life with the Eskimo - Chapter 18

Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Man The Fat Hunter
Facultative Carnivore
Eskimo
Carnivore Diet
Ketogenic Diet

General [ Comment). The Sound people are evidently the most prosperous Eskimo we have seen; they are the most " travelled ” and the best informed about their own country (Victoria Island) and its surroundings. While they have been to the Bay of Mercy on north Banks Island and west beyond Nelson Head on south Banks Island they do not seem any of them to have been across the [ Dolphin and Union) straits to the Akuliakattak summer hunting grounds ( near Cape Bexley on the mainland) , or to the sea anywhere on south Victoria Island except among the Haneragmiut and Puiblir miut. Those who have been to a little west of Uminmuktok have come from the east to it as visitors of the Ahiagmiut in most cases ( Hanbury's Arctic Coast Huskies? ). Hitkoak, about the most travelled of any, has been at the Bay of Mercy, well west of Nelson Head, to Uminmuktok and into Bathurst Inlet, and to the Arkilinik ( near Chesterfield Inlet]. He looks not over thirty -five. He says he has ceased travelling, for he has seen “ many places and none are so good as the [ Prince Albert] Sound country.” He told us that he and some other families with him killed not a single seal last winter - lived on polar bears alone. They got seal oil to burn from others in trade for bear fat and meat. Honesty seems on a higher level among them than among any other people we have seen except the Akuliakattagmiut and Haneragmiut. Their clothes are far the best, their tents the largest. They use far more copper than any other people — doubtless because it is more abundant [in their country ).


The Kogluktogmiut [of the Coppermine River] are very eager for metal rods for the middle piece of the seal spear. They never make any of copper, no doubt because copper is too scarce. Their ice picks are small : their seal hole feelers are all of horn or iron. In the Sound ( on the other hand] the copper ice picks are in some cases three quarters by one and a quarter inch and fifteen inches long. Most seal spears have middle pieces of copper the rest have iron (from McClure's ship? ). The seal hole feelers are most [ of them ) of copper. Some of their tent sticks are of local driftwood, some are round young spruce which they get from the Puiblirmiut who get them from our neighbors of last August. Some sleds come from Dease River; some from Cape Bexley, but in either case they have been bought of the Puiplirgmiut or the Haneragmiut. Their stone pots are said to be all from the Utkusiksialik or Kogluktualuk ( Tree River). Some they got from the Puiplirgmiut by the road Natkusiak and I came last week, some around the point [ Cape Baring) from the Hanerag miut by the road we are taking now. Their fire stones [iron pyrite for striking fire) are some from the Haneragmiut, some picked up in the mountains north of the Sound. The copper is all from the mountains northeast of the bottom of the Sound. They say some [detached ] pieces of pure copper (in those mountains) are as high as a man's shoulder and as wide as high; others project out of the hill side and are of unknown size. East of Prince Albert Sound (on the Kagloryuak River) they use willows chiefly for fuel in summer these are four to five feet high in places. Heather [for fuel] is also abundant. The musk oxen are confined to the unpeopled sections of north and northeast Victoria Island and to Banks Island. They think there are a few deer in north Victoria Island in winter but none in south Victoria Island. The charms that starved the Banks Island people ( see above] deprived that country (sea and land both ) of food animals for a time, but these have gradually increased and are Banks Island has again become a good country. Nevertheless people never hunt there summers. There is plenty driftwood along the south shore of Prince Albert Sound, some along the north shore. There is plenty (drift ]wood northwest of Nelson Head [ Banks Island) and considerably east of it, but it is hard to find in winter. There are plenty of macu roots (polygonum bistontum) on the Peninsula between the Sound and Minto (Inlet] — and elsewhere. People eat plenty of them. Many good fishing places here and there, but they do not live to nearly such an extent on fish as do the Ekalluktogmiut, who eat fish all winter, as well as seal.


These macu roots form on the mainland the chief food of the marmot and the grizzly bear, both of which are absent from Victoria Island. All Eskimo known to me use this root as food —the Alaskans extensively , but the Victorians to a negligible extent only.