March 2, 1577
A true reporte of the laste voyage into the west and northwest regions, &c. 1577. worthily atchieued by Capteine Frobisher of the sayde voyage the first finder and generall With a description of the people there inhabiting, and other circumstances notable. Written by Dionyse Settle, one of the companie in the sayde voyage, and seruant to the Right Honourable the Earle of Cumberland.
Settle says about the Inuit "Those beastes, flesh, fishes, and fowles, which they kil, they are meate, drinke, apparel, houses....[they] are contented by their hun∣ting, fishing, and fowling, with rawe flesh and warme bloud, to satisfie their gréedie panches, whiche is their onely glorie."
From Arctic Memories there is this quote:
As Dionyse Settle, the Elizabethan chronicler of explorer Martin Frobisher's second expedition to Baffin Island, so shrewdly observed in 1577: "Those beastes, flesh, fishes, and fowles, which they kil, they are meate, drinke, apparel, houses, bedding, hose, shooes, thred, saile for their boates... and almost all their riches."
I looked up the full text of Settle's work and copied the following, since it was written in 1577, it seems like very broken English but I think it's not worth editing.
They are men of a large corpora∣ture, and good proportion: their colour is not much vnlike the Sunne burnte Countrie man, who laboureth daily in the Sunne for his liuing.
They weare their haire somethinge long, and cut before, either with stone or knife, very disorderly. Their women weare their haire long, and knit vp with two loupes, shewing forth on either side of their faces, and the rest foltred vp on a knot. Also, some of their women race their faces proportionally, as chinne, chéekes, and forehead, and the wristes of their handes, wherevpon they lay a co∣lour, which continueth darke azurine.
They eate their meate all rawe, both fleshe, fishe, and foule, or something per∣boyled with bloud & a little water, whi∣che they drinke. For lacke of water, they wil eate yce, that is hard frosen, as plea∣santly as we will doe Sugar Candie, or other Sugar.
If they, for necessities sake, stand in néede of the premisses, such grasse as the countrie yéeldeth they plucke vppe, and eate, not deintily, or salletwise, to allure their stomaches to appetite: but for ne∣cessities sake, without either salt, oyles, or washing, like brutish beasts deuoure the same. They neither vse table, stoole, or table cloth for comelinesse: but when they are imbrued with bloud, knuckle déepe, and their kniues in like sort, they vse their tongues as apt instruments to licke them cleane: in doeing whereof, they are assured to loose none of their victuals.
They franck or kéep certeine doggs, not much vnlike Wolues, whiche they yoke together, as we do oxen and horses, to a sled or traile: and so carrie their ne∣cessaries ouer the yce and snowe, from place to place: as the captiue, whom we haue, made perfecte signes. And when those Dogges are not apt for the same vse: or when with hunger they are con∣streyned, for lacke of other victuals, they eate them: so that they are as néedefull for them, in respect of their bignesse, as our oxen are for vs.
They apparell themselues in the skinnes of such beastes as they kill, se∣wed together with the sinewes of them. All the fowle which they kill, they skin, and make thereof one kinde of garment or other, to defend them from the cold.
They make their apparell with hoods and tailes, which tailes they giue, when they thinke to gratifie any friendshippe shewed vnto them: a great signe of friendshippe with them. The men haue them not so syde as the women.
The men and women weare their hose close to their legges, from the wast to the knée, without any open before, as well the one kinde as the other. Uppon their legges, they weare hose of lether, with the furre side inward, two or thrée paire on at once, and especially the wo∣men. In those hose, they put their kni∣ues, néedles, and other thinges néedefull to beare about. They put a bone with∣in their hose, whiche reacheth from the foote to the knée, wherevpon they drawe their said hose, and so in place of garters, they are holden from falling downe a∣bout their féete.
They dresse their skinnes very softe and souple with the haire on. In cold weather or Winter, they weare ye furre side inward: and in Summer outward. Other apparell they haue none, but the said skinnes.
Those beastes, flesh, fishes, and fow∣les, which they kil, they are both meate, drinke, apparel, houses, bedding, hose, shooes, thred, saile for their boates, with many other necessaries, whereof they stande in néede, and almost all their ri∣ches.
Their houses are tentes, made of Seale skinns, pitched with foure Firre quarters, foure square, méeting at the toppe, and the skinnes sewed together with sinowes, and layd therevppon: so pitched they are, that the entraunce in∣to them, is alwayes South, or against the Sunne.
They haue other sortes of houses, whiche wée found, not to be inhabited, which are raised with stones and What bones, and a skinne layd ouer them, to withstand the raine, or other weather: the entraunce of them béeing not much vnlike an Quens mouth, whereto, I thincke, they resort for a time, to fishe, hunt, and fowle, and so leaue them for the next time they come thether againe.
Their weapons are Bowes, Ar∣rowes, Dartes, and Slinges. Their Bowes are of a yard long of wood, si∣newed on the back with strong veines, not glued too, but fast girded and tyed on. Their Bowe stringes are likewise sinewes. Their arrowes are thrée pée∣ces, nocked with bone, and ended with bone, with those two ends, and the wood in the middst, they passe not in lengthe halfe a yard or little more. They are f•∣thered with two fethers, the penne end being cutte away, and the fethers layd vppon the arrowe with the broad side to the woode: in somuch that they séeme, when they are tyed on, to haue foure fe∣thers. They haue likewise thrée sortes of heades to those arrowes: one sort of stone or yron, proportioned like to a heart: the second sort of bone, much like vnto a stopte head, with a hooke on the same: the thirde sort of bone likewise, made sharpe at both sides, and sharpe pointed. They are not made very fast, but lightly tyed to, or else set in a nocke, that vppon small occasion, the arrowe leaueth these heades behinde them: and they are of small force, except they be ve∣ry néere, when they shoote.
Their Darts are made of two sorts: the one with many forkes of bone in the fore ende, and likewise in the mid∣dest: their proportions are not muche vnlike our toasting yrons, but longer: these they cast out of an instrument of wood, very readily. The other sorte is greater then the first aforesayde, with a long bone made sharp on both sides, not much vnlike a Rapier, which I take to be their most hurtfull weapon.
They haue two sorts of boates, made of Lether, set out on the inner side with quarters of wood, artificially tyed toge∣ther with thongs of the same: the grea∣ter sort are not much vnlike our Wher∣ries, wherein sixtéene or twentie men may fitte: they haue for a sayle, drest the guttes of such beastes as they kyll, very fine and thinne, which they sewe toge∣ther: the other boate is but for one man to sitte and rowe in, with one oare.
Their order of fishing, hunting, and fowling, are with these sayde weapons: but in what sort, or how they vse them, we haue no perfect knowledge as yet.
I can not suppose their abode or ha∣bitation to be here, for that neither their houses, or apparell, are of no such force to withstand the extremitie of colde, that the countrie séemeth to be infected with all: neyther doe I sée any signe likely to performe the same.
Those houses, or rather dennes, which stand there, haue no signe of foot∣way, or any thing else troden, whiche is one of the chiefest tokens of habitation. And those tents, which they bring with them, when they haue sufficiently hun∣ted and fished, they remoue to other places: and when they haue sufficient∣ly stored them of suche victuals, as the countrie yeldeth, or bringeth foorth, they returne to their Winter stations or ha∣bitations. This coniecture do I make, for the infertilitie, whiche I perceiue to be in that countrie.
They haue some yron, whereof they make arrowe heades, kniues, and other little instrumentes, to woorke their boa∣tes, bowes, arrowes, and dartes withal, whiche are very vnapt to doe any thing withall, but with great labour.
It seemeth, that they haue conuersa∣tion with some other people, of whome, for exchaunge, they should receiue the same. They are greatly delighted with any thinge that is brighte, or giueth a sound.
What knowledge they haue of God, or what Idol they adore, wée haue no perfect intelligence. I thincke them ra∣ther Anthropophagi, or deuourers of mans fleshe, then otherwise: for that there is no flesh or fishe, which they finde dead, (smell it neuer so filthily) but they will eate it, as they finde it, without any other dressing. A loathsome spectacle, ei∣ther to the beholders, or hearers.
There is no maner of créeping beast hurtful, except some Spiders (which, as many affirme, are signes of great store of Golde:) and also certeine stinging Gnattes, which bite so fiercely, that the place where they bite, shortly after swelleth, and itcheth very sore.
They make signes of certeine peo∣ple, that weare bright plates of Gold in their forheads, and other places of their bodies.
The Countries, on both sides the streightes, lye very highe with roughe stonie mounteynes, and great quantitie of snowe thereon. There is very little plaine ground, and no grasse, except a li∣tle, whiche is much like vnto mosse that groweth on soft ground, such as we gett Turfes in. There is no wood at all. To be briefe, there is nothing fitte, or profi∣table for ye vse of man, which that Coun∣trie with roote yéeldeth, or bringeth forth: Howbeit, there is great quantitie of Deere, whose skinnes are like vnto Asses, their heads or hornes doe farre ex∣ceed, as wel in length as also in breadth, any in these oure partes or Countrie: their féete likewise, are as great as oure oxens, whiche we measured to be seuen or eight ynches in breadth. There are also Hares, Wolues, fishing Beares, and Sea foule of sundrie sortes.
As the Countrie is barren and vn∣fertile, so are they rude and of no capa∣citie to culture the same, to any perfec∣tion: but are contented by their hun∣ting, fishing, and fowling, with rawe flesh and warme bloud, to satisfie their gréedie panches, whiche is their onely glorie.
June 1, 1586
The Private Journal of Captain G.F. Lyon, of H.M.S. Hecla
Navigator John Davies is quoted as saying about the Inuit "The people are of good stature, well proportioned. They did eat all their meat raw."
In drawing out this long account of one visit, my prolixity may be excused, when I state, that it is merely intended to amuse my own fire-side circle; yet, voluminous as it is, I have withheld any account of the stature, and general appearance of the people; or any description of their boats and instruments, being certain of seeing more of them. In the mean time, however, it may not be uninteresting to quote the brief but accurate description of them as given by that able old navigator John Davies, in the year 1586.
“The people are of good stature, well proportioned, with small slender hands and feet, broad visages, small eyes, wide mouths, the most part unbearded, great lips and close teethed ; they are much given to bleed, and therefore stop their noses with deer's hair, or that of an elan. They are very simple in their conversation, but marvellously given to thieving, especially of iron; they did eat all their meat raw."
July 22, 1824
The Private Journal of Captain G.F. Lyon, of H.M.S. Hecla
"Sugar was offered to many of the grown people, who disliked it very much, and, to our surprise, the young children were equally averse to it. The fatigued and hungry Eskimaux returned to their boats to take their supper, which consisted of lumps of raw flesh and blubber of seals, birds, entrails, &c.; licking their fingers with great zest"
Sugar was offered to many of the grown people, who disliked it very much, and, to our surprise, the young children were equally averse to it. Towards midnight all our men, except the watch on deck, turned in to their beds, and the fatigued and hungry Eskimaux returned to their boats to take their supper, which consisted of lumps of raw flesh and blubber of seals, birds, entrails, &c.; licking their fingers with great zest, and with knives or fingers scraping the blood and grease which ran down their chins into their mouths. I walked quietly round to look at the different groupes, and in one of the women's boats I observed a young girl, whom we had generally allowed to be the belle of the party, busily employed in tearing a slice from the belly of a seal, and biting it into small pieces for distribution to those around her. I also remarked that the two sexes took their meal apart, the men on the ice, the women sitting in their boats. At midnight they all left us, so exhausted by their day's exertions, that they were quite unable either to scream or laugh . The men paddled slowly away, and the women rowed off with half their party asleep. A few went only to a piece of floating ice astern, where they lay down for the night, while the others made their way to the shore, which was about eight miles distant.
October 9, 1870
Arctic Passage, Whaleman's Shipping List and Merchants Transcript Letter
Captain Frederick A Barker of the Japan shipwrecks in the Arctic Ocean in 1870 and is rescued by Eskimo natives who restore the frostbitten and dying men and then feed them a diet of raw walrus meat through the winter, despite suffering from famine themselves. Captain Barker realizes that his whaling and walrus slaugtering had reduced the natives only remaining food resources and wrote to authorites for help.
From Artic Passage Book - Page 135 Physical Hardcover:
Captain Frederick A. Barker of the Japan was one of the few whaling men to cry out against the wholesale destruction of the walrus herds of the Bering Sea. In a letter to the Whalemen's Shipping List and Merchants Transcript he warned New England whaling men that the practice "will surely end in the extermination of this race of natives who rely upon these animals alone for their winter's supply of food." 28 If the butchering of the walrus did not cease, the fate of the Eskimo was inevitable: "Already this cruel persecution has been felt along the entire coast, while a wail like that of the Egyptians goes through the length and breadth of the land. There is a famine and relief comes not." 29 Eskimos had often asked Barker why the white men took away their food and left them to starve, and he had no answer to give them. They told him of their joy when the whalemen first began to come among them, and of their growing despair as the hunters began to decimate the walrus. "I have conversed with many intelligent shipmasters upon this subject," wrote Barker, "since I have seen it in its true light and all have expressed their honest conviction that it was wrong, cruel and heartless and the sure death of this inoffensive race." 30 Captains had told Barker that they would be glad to abandon walrus hunting if the ship owners would approve it, "but until the subject was introduced to public notice, they were powerless to act." 31 It would be hard to give up an enterprise that provided 10,000 barrels of oil each season. My advocacy "may seem preposterous and meet with derision and contempt, but let those who deride it see the misery entailed throughout the country by this unjust wrong." 32
Captain Barker was not the only shipmaster to appeal for an end to the walrus slaughter, but he knew better than to most what was happening to northern natives. Barker had taken his Japan into the Arctic Ocean in 1870 and had made a good catch. Whales were plentiful and the weather was good, so Barker was reluctant to return south through the Bering Strait. As the days grew colder and the shore ice thickened, Barker was forced to give up the chase and work the Japan toward the strait. Unfortunately, he encountered heavy fog which slowed his progress, then a storm which buffeted the Japan for four days. On October 9, 1870, the Japan was off East Cape, Siberia, and in serious trouble. "The gale blew harder, attended by such blinding snow that we could not see half a ship's length." 33 Although Barker had taken in most of his sails, the Japan was racing at breakneck speed before the gale. "Just then, to add to our horror, a huge wave swept over the ship, taking off all our boats and sweeping the decks clean." 34
The situation was critical. Barker steered for the beach and hoped for the best. An enormous wave hit the Japan and drove it upon the rocky shore. Miraculously, all the men got ashore safely, but their travails were just beginning. The weather was bitterly cold, and clothing and provisions had to be recovered from the disabled ship. Barker and his men struggled through the surf to the ship and back to the shore again and suffered fearful consequences. All were severely frostbitten, and eight of the thirty-man crew died in the effort. Natives came to the mariners' assistance. Barker was dragged out of the breakers, breathless and nearly frozen, loaded onto a sled, and taken to village. "I thought my teeth would freeze off." 35 Barker scrambled out of the sled and tried to run, hoping the exertion would warm him. Instead he fell down as one paralyzed. The natives picked him up and put him on the sled once more.
In the village the survivors received tender care. "The chief's wife, in whose hut I was," wrote Barker, "pulled off my boots and stockings and placed my frozen feet against her naked borom to restore warmth and animation," 36. With such care the seamen who had not died on the beach recovered. But for the natives "every soul would have perished on the beach... as there was no means at hand of kindling a fire or of helping ourselves one way or the other." 37
Barker and his men wintered with the Eskimos, They had no choice in the matter as the entire whaling fleet had returned south before the Japan started for Bering Strait, It was during these months that Barker leaned someching of the Eskimos' way of life and became their advocate. Except for a few casks of bread and flour that had washed ashore, the seamen were entirely dependent upon their hosts. The men ate raw walrus meat and blubber that was generally on the ripe side. The whalemen did not relish their diet, but it sustained them. Prejudices against a novel food inhibited Barker for a time. He fasted for three days. "Hunger at last compelled me and, strange as it may appear, it tasted good to me and before I had been there many weeks, I could eat as much raw meat as anyone, the natives excepted." 38 Barker soon understood that the natives were short of food. "I felt like a guilty culprit while eating their food with them, that I have been taking the bread out of their mouths."39 Barker knew and the Eskimos knew that the whalemen's hunting of walrus had reduced the natives to the point of famine, "still they were ready to share all they had with us." 40 Barker resolved to call for a prohibition of walrus hunting when he returned to New Bedford and further resolved that he would never kill another walrus "for those poor people along the coast have nothing else to live upon." 41
In the summer of 1871 Barker and his men were rescued when the whaling fleet returned. Some recompense was made to the Eskimos for their charity; they were given provisions and equipment from the ships. The natives plight was observed by other captains too. One wrote a letter to the New Bedford Republican Standard to describe the "cruel occupation" of walrus killing. Most of those killed were females which were lanced as they held their nursing offspring in their flippers "uttering the most heartrending and piteous cries."' 42 Many whalemen felt guilty about this butchery, and they had to have very strong stomachs to carry out the bloody job under such circumstances. "But the worst feature of the business is that the natives of the entire Arctic shores, from Cape Thaddeus and the Anadyr Sea to the farthest point north, a shoreline of more than one thousand miles on the west coast, with the large island of St. Lawrence, the smaller ones of Diomede and King's Island, all thickly inhabited are now almost entirely dependent on the walrus for their food, clothings, boots and dwellings." 43 Earlier there were plenty of whales for them, but the whales had been destroyed and driven north. "This is a sad state of things for them."
Other captains reported that they had seen natives thiry to forty miles from land on the ice, trying desperately to catch a walrus or find a carcass that had been abandoned by the whalemen. "What must the poor creatures do this cold winter, with no whale or walrus?" 45 Such appeals might have been effective eventually, though whether they would have led to a prohibition of walrus killing in time to spare the northern natives from famine is unlikely. But events took an unexpected turn in 1871: The ships which passed through the Bering Strait that season did so for the last time. The entire fleet was caught in the ice near Point Barrow, as the men including the Japan survivors-hunted walrus and whale. Thanks to the Revenue Marine, the seamen were saved, but the ships were lost. This disaster, coming six years after the Shenandoah's destructive cruise, dealt the whaling industry a blow from which it never recovered. But it may have saved the walrus and the northern natives from extinction. It was clear enough to the Bering Sea natives that they had benefited by the loss of the fleet. As an Eskimo or Chukchi of Plover Bay put it to a whaling captain when word of the loss reached Siberia: "Bad. Very bad for you. Good for us. More walrus now." 46
September 5, 1878
Summer on King William Land helps make Search Complete
Schwatka explains the Arctic diet. "When first thrown wholly upon a diet of reindeer meat, it seems inadequate to properly nourish the system and there is an apparent weakness and inability to perform severe exertive, fatiguing journeys. But this soon passes away in the course of two or three weeks. Our trip was also our first continued experience with a raw meat diet"
The search of Terror Bay was an extremely difficult one owing to the many long finger-like points that constituted its interig outlines. While only about ten to twelve miles between its bounding capes its contour furnished me with nearly ninety miles of very bad walking, which took seven days to complete. The game (luckily for us) was very plentiful in the neighborhood. On one day alone I saw no less than thirty-four reindeer grazing among the different valleys through which I passed. Colonel Gilder killed five. Without leaving the route of my other duties I killed three. Some had an abundance of substantial food and, better than all, its condition was rapidly improving from the lean stringy quality which characterized our spring supply of venison.
The Arctic reindeer is an awkward clumsy animal, and when trotting along, unless closely pursued, it goes stumbling over the grough ground in a manner that often leads the amateur hunter, (who perchance has risked a long shot at him) into the belief that his fire has been effective. But the reindeer was the most reliable game in which dependence for regular continuous subsistence can be placed. Without the reindeer my expedition of from nineteen to twenty-two souls and forty to fifty dogs could not have accomplished the journey it did, having only about a month's ration when it started at Camp Daly. I have never enountered a larger band than some three or four hundred which I saw on the Seroy Lakes, near North Hudson Bay in the autumn of 1878. During the subsequent autumn on King William Land, I saw no less than a thousand in a single day.
When first thrown wholly upon a diet of reindeer meat, it seems inadequate to properly nourish the system and there is an apparent weakness and inability to perform severe exertive, fatiguing journeys. But this soon passes away in the course of two or three weeks. At first the white man takes to the new diet in too homeopathic a manner, especially if it be raw. However, seal meat which is far more disagreeable with its fishy odor, and bear meat with its strong flavor, seems to have no such a temporary debilitating effect upon the economy. The reindeer are scattered during the spring and summer which is the breeding season, but as the cold weather approaches they herd together in vast bodies.
Toolooah, my most excellent Innuit hunter, never failed to secure one during every hunt. I knew him to kill seven out of a band of eight reindeer with the eight shots in the magazine of his Winchester before they could get out of range. On ten different occasions he killed two deer at one shot and once three fell at a single discharge. The number of times he dispatched one and wounded others, or wounded two or even three at a single shot, which he afterwards secured, seemed countless.
That he supported an average of nine souls (not counting double that number of dogs dependent upon him for about ten months), coupled with a score of 232 reindeer during that period, besides a number of seal, musk-ox and polar bear, demonstrates his great abilityas a hunter in these inhospitable climes.
On our journey a thorough search was made of that portion of the coast that Frank and Henry had not previously looked over, but nothing rewarded either our or their labors except an oar found
near the head of Washington Bay. Our trip was also our first continued experience with a raw meat diet and, whenever the weather was sufficiently cold to freeze it into a hard mass, we
found it not altogether unacceptable. Raw versus cooked meat brings up the interesting subject of the different methods of eating by the Innuits, and we no longer considered ourselves aliens in this