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Full text of "Prehistoric and present commerce among the Arctic coast Eskimo"

Department of itlines 

Hon. LOUIS CODERRE, Minister; 
R. G. McCONNELL, Deputy Minister. 



(ftcolonicnl Surucn 

Museum Bulletin No. 6 

ANTHROPOLOGICAL SERIES, No. 3 DECEMBER 30, 1914 



PREHISTORIC AND PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG 
THE ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO 



by 



V. Stefansson 



UNIVERSITY OF C 

AT F OP A 

JUL111935 
L I B R A R ; 



OTTAWA 
GOVERNMENT PRINTING BUREAU 



1914 No. 1476 



December 30, 1914 



Canada 

Geological Survey 
Museum Bulletin No. 6. 

ANTHROPOLOGICAL SERIES, No. 3. 



Prehistoric and Present Commerce among the Arctic 
Coast Eskimo. 

By V. STEFANSSON. 

If, with reference to the Eskimo, we are to call prehistoric 
all the time that antedates the first visit to them of a v whire man 
who puts on record some information concerning them, then 
some tribes of Eskimo even now may be in the prehistoric period, 
for it is not certain that there are not tribes whose very names 
and existence are unknown to us. From this point of view, 
prehistoric time may include not only to-day but to-morrow. In 
the following discussion, it will appear just what is meant by 
"prehistoric" in the case of each tribe or section of the country. 
In general the past will be inferred from the present condition 
supplemented by some apparently reliable information through 
word of mouth. 

So far as a research might be based on the published or 
unpublished accounts of the explorers of the past, this essay 
will be found wanting, for the sources are not at hand where 
this is written. 

There are three things that chiefly determine the character 
of Eskimo commerce: the geographic conditions that make 

PHONETIC NOTE. The alphabet used in spelling Eskimo names is that 
of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, slightly modified: g =*g 
in Icelandic saga or Norwegian dag; r = the German guttural r, while r is as 
in English; 5 always has a sibilant sound, nearly, but not quite, equal to 
English sh\ tj = English ck in church. Other variations from the Bureau of 
Ethnology alphabet occur, but are of little consequence. 



003 /i 



2 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

certain routes of travel more feasible than others; the character 
of the natural resources of the different districts; and the dis- 
tribution of the peopled areas (as well as the degree of friend- 
liness of their inhabitants). 

In the Eskimo country the great highway of travel is the 
sea. This is generally known and frequently reiterated by 
students of the subject, but so habituated are many of us to 
mentally defining a sea route as a water route, that in making 
the above statement we speak a fact while we think a fiction. 
The sea is indeed the commercial highway, not, however, as 
water but as ice; not as a medium for boat travel so much as 
(in many districts) the sine qua non of rapid sled travel and the 
hauling of heavy loads by dog teams. Nowhere between Baf- 
finland and Smith sound on the east and Cape Bathurst on the 
west, did boats probably ever play a considerable part in trade; 
certain portions of the Greenland coast were about the only 
localities where the boat completely supplanted the sled. From 
Cape Bathurst west to Mackenzie delta the use of boats was not 
interfered with so much by ice conditions as by the fact that 
the summer season here was the harvest season more absolutely 
than in most districts, not only because of the annual coming 
of the caribou, but chiefly because the various sorts of whales, 
upon which the Eskimo depended for food, fuel, and light, fre- 
quented the coast during most of the summer and engrossed the 
people's attention, while in winter and spring they had plenty 
of leisure for travel and for trading. The whales pass the Alaska 
coast earlier in the season and people there have the summer 
freer; but without sleds such journeys as those of the Point 
Barrow people east to Barter island and back again, could not 
have been accomplished. They, therefore, hauled both boats 
and trading gear on sleds well towards the Colville river as well 
as a greater or lesser part of the way back, except in the most 
favourable seasons. It might be hastily concluded that on 
Bering strait at least, in the commerce between Asia and Alaska, 
the boat supplanted the sled entirely. It did not, however. 
In our camp, as I write, is a young man of Port Clarence, Alaska, 
whose father and older brothers, up to a few years ago, made 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 3 

frequent sled trips from their home to the Asiatic side to buy 
reindeer skins of the Siberian deermen. 

So far as the writer knows, it was only in Alaska and near 
Hudson bay that the rivers played an important commercial 
r61e. Indians and Eskimo made use of the Yukon. The several 
rivers north of the Yukon brought the inland Eskimo to the 
coast, where they bought wares whose ultimate source was in 
distant Eskimo, Indian, or Siberian communities. Either by 
boats, or by sleds carrying boats, parties then bent on trade 
ascended the Kuwuk and Noatak rivers, carried their boats by 
sled over to the upper Colville, and descended by boats to the 
sea to meet the Point Barrow people near the western edge of 
the Colville delta, or traversed one of the easterly delta channels, 
by which routes they sometimes made their way as far east as 
Barter island. There was some trade intercourse between the 
Athabaskan Indians, and the Mackenzie Eskimo on that river 
and between the Athabaskans and the Coronation Gulf Eskimo 
on the Coppermine or near it, but in neither of these cases did 
the waterways, as such, play an important part indeed the 
Coppermine can hardly be called navigable and, although 
portions of it were now and then used by Indians as canoe 
routes, the Eskimo probably never took their kayaks farther 
up than Bloody fall, nine miles from the sea. (They do not 
seem ever to have had umiaks). Chesterfield inlet and the 
rivers flowing into it were no doubt formerly, as now, ascended 
by Hudson Bay Eskimo for purpose of trade with the Back 
river, Arctic coast, and Victoria Island people. 

An interesting light is thrown upon the past history of the 
Athabaskans of Great Slave lake, as well as upon that of the 
Eskimo, by the fact that, in the early days of the fur trade, 
these Indians made long and difficult journeys to the Hudson 
Bay trading posts by a circuitous southern route which was 
recommended neither by abundance of game (for they frequently 
starved), nor by navigability of rivers, while (as David T. 
Hanbury's explorations have shown) there existed a direct route 
well supplied with game and consisting of readily navigable 
rivers and lakes the Akilinik River route still so much used by 
the Eskimo. Either the Indians did not know of this route, or 



4 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

else they knew it was in the possession of the Eskimo of whom 
they must in that case have been afraid. 1 

Two important overland trade routes (or two sections of 
the same route) connected the Mackenzie river and Alaska, 
probably even in the earliest times, with Hudson bay and the 
Baffinland region. One of these led from the Arctic coast near 
Ogden bay directly south across Back river (where the people 
of that river were incidentally met by the coast traders), to the 
wooded section of the Akilinik between the meridians 106 degrees 
and 104 degrees west. This route is recommended by no special 
geographic conditions other than the abundance of game and fish, 
but it must always have been an important one because it furnished 
with articles of wood a large section of the north coast of the 
mainland as well as the populous island settlements. A con- 
tinuation of this route led (and leads to-day) north across the 
ice from Ogden bay to Albert Edward bay, Victoria island, and 
on through Victoria island west by the Ekalluktok river, which 
flows into the head of Albert Edward bay, and the Kagloryuak, 
which falls into the head of Prince Albert sound. These rivers 
head close together near the middle of Victoria island. This route 
then led west through Prince Albert sound, crossed to Banks 
island from Cape Wollaston to Cape Collinson or Cape Cantwell, 
followed the coast southwest to Nelson head and crossed the sea 
south to Cape Parry, and thence followed the coast westward. 
This was in its entirety a sled route except that pack dogs were 
used between Back river and the Akilinik, and sometimes some 
distance north of Back river, as well as in the middle of Victoria 
island, for these sections were traversed in summer. The entire 
route is still in active use, except the section between Cape Parry 
and Nelson head, for Cape Parry has long been depopulated and 
the people at Cape Bathurst have been for more than half a cen- 
tury entirely concerned with white men's wares, obtained first 
from neighbours of their own race from the west, and later from 
white men directly. It is remarkable that, although a long time 
has elapsed since the Hudson's Bay Company and the Scotch 

1 Books are not at hand for exact citations. Consult, however, Alex- 
ander Mackenzie's account of the fur trade, and Daniel T. Hanbury's narra- 
tive of his exploration of the Akilinik river. 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 5 

whalers began to trade in Hudson bay, yet articles of wood still 
form more than half the entire power-in-exchange of what the 
trading parties bring home to Victoria island from their visits to 
the Akilinik. Though we do not know how many centuries 
have elapsed since these trading expeditions first began, we can 
say definitely that their object, in so far as they were undertaken 
by northerners, must have been then the same as it is now the 
securing of materials for bows, arrows, lances and spears, snow 
shovels, dishes, sleds, snow house floors, etc. 

The rapidity of trade movement is a question of interest. 
Beginning at the west, we may trace to advantage some Siberian 
article, such as a metal knife, that might conceivably have been 
passed on eastward without falling on the way into the hands 
of anyone who delayed it by owning it for use. Whether it had 
come across Bering strait by sled in winter or boat in summer, it 
would most likely be started on its way to the Colville from (say) 
Kotzebue sound, through purchase at a summer trading ren- 
dezvous on the coast, by Kuwtik or Noatak people who had 
descended to the sea in boats. These would return up the rivers 
to hunt the caribou, while the skins were good for clothing and 
while the animals were fat (in August and September). Not 
until the days lengthened in the following spring, could the knife 
easily get to the Colville, but in March or April trading parties 
would set out to sled over the Arctic divide and in June they 
would descend the river to (say) the trading centre of Niflik 
near the western edge of the Colville delta, where they might 
trade the knife to a Barrow man going east to Barter island, or 
they might take the knife to Barter island themselves. Here 
it would be traded to Mackenzie River (Herschel island) Eskimo 
in mid-summer, just a year after leaving the coact west of Alaska. 
By open water it would reach Herschel island or might even get 
so far east as the east edge of the Mackenzie delta. If we were 
to suppose the knife to have reached the Barrow people from the 
west (viz. Point Hope, say), its course would be a little more 
devious probably, and its progress slower. 

The preceding paragraph is based on inquiries of various 
people now resident at Cape Smythe (Point Barrow) or east of 



6 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

there, who themselves came from the west coast along the Arctic 
or oftener by the Colville route. 

There is no information available as to the rapidity of trade 
movement between the western edge of the Mackenzie delta and 
Baillie island (Cape Bathurst), for the people of these places 
almost formed one community, visiting backwards and for- 
wards, and there were no set trade expeditions. It is, however, 
only conservative to say that the winter from October to March 
would easily give an article time to get as far east as Cape Parry, 
from where journeys are said never to have been made to Nelson 
head except late in March or early in April. If our hypothetical 
knife had been on its journey 200 years ago, it would no doubt 
have found then, as we would find now, that well into April the 
Prince Albert Sound people of Victoria island are at Nelson head 
hunting bears. They soon start east, however, for they do not 
spend their summers in Banks island. By the middle of May the 
entire tribe nears the head of Prince Albert sound and here a few 
sleds, bent on trade to the eastward, hurry ahead. They ascend the 
Kagloryuak, descend the Ekalluktok, and meet the Ekalluktog- 
miut on Albert Edward bay. A few sleds of this tribe join them 
and all proceed south to the Asiagmmt, whom they find near 
Ogden bay. A portion of this tribe also is going south to the 
Akilinik river, and representatives of the three tribes join forces. 
They cannot go far by sled, for summer overtakes them, but 
loading their dogs and themselves with backloads they "pack" 
south until they reach Back river, where they find people of that 
locality with whom they trade and who ferry them in their 
kayaks across the river. Resuming their "packing" they pro- 
ceed to the Akilinik above Schulze lake, reaching it in mid- 
summer, two years from the time our knife was traded for on 
the west coast of Alaska. On the Akilinik are Hudson Bay 
Eskimo, or at least Eskimo from near Hudson bay, come to get 
wood and to trade with the westerner. Sometime during the 
coming winter our knife, if bought by them, might reach salt 
water. We can say then that the minimum time in which an 
article by this route could pass from western Alaska to Hudson 
bay is about two and one-half years. Possibly so rapid a transfer 
never took place, but we may double the minimum and say with 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 7 

some conservatism that articles could easily pass from ocean to 
ocean in five years. 

It is probable that the trade route in question forked at 
Albert Edward bay the fork still in active use has already been 
described (that leading south to the Akilinik). Well known 
archaeological facts 1 indicate that another fork extended north- 
east across Prince of Wales island and North Devon towards 
Smith bay. This is made to seem likely by a glance at the 
chart, and is further confirmed by the statements made to me, 
of the Kanhiryuafmmt, who say that the Ekalluktogmiut of 
Albert Edward bay have told them of the Turnunirohifmlut, 
"whom they must have seen, for they tell long stories about 
them." According to Boas, the Tununirusifmmt (a dialectic 
variant of the same name evidently) visit North Devon and go 
"farther to the west." This may anciently have been an im- 
portant trade route, though now fallen much into disuse. 

There is at present an overland trade route from the Aki- 
linik to UminmOktok on Bathurst inlet, but it is not clear that 
it is an ancient one. It is the easterners who come northwest 
chiefly the Back River inlanders, but also members of other 
tribes. My information leads me to think they came first some 
six or eight years ago (probably as a consequence of Hanbury's 
journey). They bring chiefly iron ware. Some guns have 
through their agency even reached Bathurst inlet. In 1911 there 
were no guns among any of the five Victoria Island tribes visited 
by us, and no member of four tribes visited had ever heard a 
gun fired. 

Artifacts are now and then discovered on the Atlantic side 
of the Eskimo country that are almost or quite identical with 
others known from Alaska. This is considered by many ethno- 
logists as evidence of the extraordinary conservatism of the 
Eskimo. The inference is that although these tribes are distant 
both in time and space from the land of their common origin, 
they still though a continent separates them adhere stead- 
fastly to even the minutest and least essential details of con- 
struction employed by their forefathers when all dwelt together 

1 F. Boas, Bulletin, American Museum of Natural History, vol. XV, 1907, 



MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

in a restricted area; not that an attempt is made to minimize 
the conservatism of the Eskimo one sees and hears every- 
where evidences of its being a conservatism well-nigh incom- 
prehensible to members of our race. Language, processes, and 
modes of thought, furnish, however, more convincing evidences 
of a common origin in a restricted area than do songs, tales, 
isolated beliefs, and portable artifacts. The Alaskan Eskimo 
in our employ were not quite a year in contact with the people 
of Coronation gulf and Victoria island, yet there are few persons 
now in Coronation gulf that do not know one or more songs 
from Port Clarence, Alaska, and the Mackenzie delta, while 
songs composed at Bathurst inlet will within a year or two be 
sung at Port Clarence, Alaska. One of the most popular songs 
now heard in Coronation gulf, celebrates the merits of the tea 
sold at Fort Macpherson, Mackenzie river, and another tells 
of the wreck of the whaler "Alexander" at Cape Parry (1906), yet 
these people, when they learnt the songs from us, had never 
tasted tea nor seen a ship. They talk of mountain goats (as 
the Greenlanders talk of mammoth) wisely, after seeing my 
sleeping bag and listening to the hunting adventures of one 
of our men. They accepted fragments of Christianity promptly 
on the say-so of my companions not very orthodox Christianity 
naturally, for the mental processes of my men are not quite 
the same as those of the missionary who taught them. They 
had, when we first came to them, imitations of white men's 
articles of which few or none had seen the original e. g., scis- 
sors. Knowing the continuity of trade routes between east and 
west, the rapidity of traffic, the readiness with which new ideas 
are adopted (modified, of course, to fit into the recipient's scheme 
of thought), may we not say that identity or similarity (e.g.) 
of needlecases in Smith sound and Alaska is as likely to be an 
evidence of the activity of commerce as of a common culture 
home and rockbound conservatism ? And may not a song or 
story heard in Smith sound and Alaska have accompanied the 
needlecase from its source in Kotzebue sound ? Or, be the 
needlecase of a material peculiar to Smith sound, then may 
it not have been made in imitation of an imported article, just 
as Coronation Gulf Eskimo to-day make scissors (of caribou 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 9 

antler and bits of metal) that are imitations, at last analysis, of 
Sheffield scissors. 

Commerce of ideas must accompany commerce in articles 
and materials. One who tries to decipher culture historical 
records from among the mass of lore and legends of a tribe gets 
considerable help through remembering that, though an Eskimo 
readily adopts new ideas and beliefs, he modifies all of them so as to 
make them assimilate readily with his previous ideas and beliefs, 
and he will neither abandon nor greatly modify his previous 
stock. Hence Christianity, for instance, is not replacing the 
old beliefs in any locality known to me, but is being superim- 
posed upon them. Certain practices, it is true, are being aban- 
doned e. g., sorcery. This is not, however, from a lessened 
faith in the powers of the sorcerer, but because "it is wrong to 
practice witchcraft." There is, however, a belief (which may 
indeed always have existed) that the sorcerers of to-day are less 
powerful than those of the past. 

Turning now to the natural resources of each tribe and their 
commercial intercourse with their neighbours, we will consider 
first the region between the mouth of the Yukon and the mouth 
of the Mackenzie. The treatment will be brief, for the reason 
that the writer has little first hand information regarding Alaskan 
trade intercourse that is not already in print in one language 
or another. 

At Port Clarence, and other places whose people undertook 
journeys to Siberia, there arrived each summer, from the south, 
boats of the Unalit and perhaps other tribes loaded with wooden 
platters, buckets, dishes, and dippers, which were exchanged 
entirely for Siberian wares reindeer skins, jade and other 
beads, metal articles and (in later times only ?) tobacco. These 
wooden articles were kept at Port Clarence a year, for when the 
Unalit arrived it was considered too late in the season for visiting 
Siberia, but the next year they were taken by boat across the 
strait. Ivory, oil, and other products of sea animals formed an 
important part of the cargoes, and after the Russian fur trade 
commenced in Siberia, and perhaps earlier, furs were carried 
west also. The Siberian wares which formed the return cargoes, 
were bartered off at the summer trading centres in Kotzebue 



10 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

sound and elsewhere, and began their eastward progress by one 
of two routes along the coast by Point Hope or overland north- 
east by the Colville route. There were also winter journeys 
of less commercial importance from the Bering coast in the 
vicinity of Kotzebue sound, to the Arctic coast west of Point 
Barrow. 

The main eastward exports of the Bering communities were 
Siberian goods, beads of native stone, stone and ivory ornaments, 
and (to the inland tribes) blubber and oil. They received in 
exchange caribou skins, wolverine and wolf skins (for trimming 
their clothing), stone lamps, and stone pots. 

At Niflik in the Colville delta, the Barrow people sold 
Siberian wares, Bering coast ornaments, articles of ivory 
(mammoth and walrus the mammoth chiefly found along their 
own rivers, the walrus purchased from the west), whale oil, 
whale skin, umiaks of bearded seal, walrus or white whale 
skin, kayaks of sealskin, sealskin waterboots, unworked seal- 
skins and the skin of the bearded seal for boot sole material. 
What they chiefly received for all this was caribou skins, with 
a few wolf and wolverine skins and, in later times, commercial 
furs fox, lynx, etc. Proceeding east to Barter island or its 
vicinity, they traded all the same kinds of articles except oil, 
whale skin, boats, and sealskin articles. What they chiefly 
received were stone lamps and stone pots from the Mackenzie 
people, wolf and wolverine skins and (latterly) other furs from 
the Mackenzie people and the Indians from south of the moun- 
tains towards the Yukon. Both the Barrow people and those 
of Mackenzie river brought white whale skins to sell, though 
the Barrow traders probab ly never had as many of these as the 
easterners. The purchasers must have been the Athabaskan 
Indians from the south and those Colville people who had come 
to Barter island with Siberian and Bering Straits wares. 

It may be inferred that the farther east the trading place 
was located the fewer Siberian and other far western wares were 
brought to it. Dr. Richardson, if memory serves, states that, 
in 1846, Siberian wares were not seen by him east of Point Atkin- 
son they had not reached Cape Bathurst. Richardson had, 
however, but limited opportunities for observation. Probably 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 11 

he identifies the eastern limit of Siberian goods with the eastern 
limits of Siberian tobacco and Chinese pipes. These had not 
reached Cape Bathurst when Richardson passed ; thus far our own 
inquiries confirm his opinion, but the very fact that Siberian 
tobacco had almost reached Cape Bathurst might seem proof 
of itself that Siberian knives had reached and passed it, just as 
there are to-day knives from Hudson bay used in Banks island, 
while the tobacco habit has not passed Back river, if it has 
penetrated that far west. True, we have not found Siberian 
goods as yet in any old remains explored east of Cape Bathurst, 
but we have found fragments of pottery kettles 1 of the sort 
known to have been made by the Eskimo of western Alaska and 
supposed generally to have been made by them only. If they 

1 The pottery fragments referred to have been found at Langton bay 
and near the mouth of a small, unnamed river in the bay behind Point Stivens 
on the Parry peninsula. To date (July 12, 1911) several dozen pieces have 
been dug up. They are all small, and in no case did their position make it 
certain that any two belonged to the same pot. Only three small fragments 
of stone pots have been found in the course of the same excavations. Two 
of my Eskimo companions are from western Alaska Kotzebue sound and 
Port Clarence. Both of them have watched the making of pottery by their 
own mothers and by other women of their tribes. They say that the pieces 
we have found are of the thickness and general appearance of western pottery, 
that the corners of the pots are similar and the perforations in the brim for 
swinging the pots are similarly placed. They differ, however, from the 
pottery they have seen made in the following two particulars: ptarmigan 
feathers were always mixed with the clay by their people while we have here 
found no signs of feathers of any sort; a little fine sand was used in the west 
mixed with the clay, while here fine gravel seems to have been used in some 
cases and in others cracked rock fragments probably made by pounding a 
friable stone with a hammer. 

Our diggings near Point Stivens are in a river-cut bank. In the course 
of the work at a depth of four feet (sand), we found a layer of clay of unknown 
depth. This clay is said by my companions to be similar in appearance and 
consistency to that used by their parents for pottery in Alaska. In hunting, 
we have seen outcrops of similar clay along the river in several places. 

At the present rate of accumulation we shall probably find half a bushel 
of pottery fragments in a hundred cubic metres of excavation. This large 
quantity, together with the presence of clay out of which the pots may have 
been made, might incline one to the view that the manufacture of pottery 
may have been carried on here, though that would be pushing east by a good 
thousand miles the known limits of the art of pottery making among the 
Eskimo. 

In the same diggings we have found (besides a quantity of horn, bone, 
and stone objects of doubtless purely local origin) a lance fore-shaft of ivory 
(imported ?), a fish hook with copper point (the hook of the western style, but 
the copper doubtless from the east), and several knife handles which show 
by the smallness of the socket that they must have held blades thinner than 
any stone blades I have ever seen probably iron blades. 



12 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

are from the Alaskan coast, they and the Siberian goods must 
have had an even start thence for the east, and there is little 
doubt any metal articles would have outstripped them, for when 
one gets east of Bathurst one who brings pots from the west is 
carrying coal to Newcastle. 

Between Herschel island and Cape Bathurst there do not 
seem ever to have been regular trading expeditions. As above 
pointed out, the Mackenzie delta and the vicinity were so much 
one community that there was promiscuous visiting back and 
forth at most seasons. Within this section the products and 
resources of one locality were so nearly identical with those of 
any other that the trading must have consisted chiefly in the 
westerners passing Alaskan wares east and the easterners pass- 
ing eastern wares west. 

From Cape Parry there were two trading routes to the east. 
The one, whose existence is to be inferred from the map, lay east 
along the mainland coast. The intercourse along this route has 
been completely forgotten by the people of Baillie island, who 
indeed, no doubt, seldom went farther east than Horton river 
they themselves say they did not. The continuous chain of 
ruined houses, graves, and such signs of travel as broken sleds, 
paddles, etc., that connects Cape Bathurst with Cape Bexley is 
in itself proof enough that there was such traffic; besides, the 
easterners have not forgotten it, though the westerners have. 

The second, less self-evident trade route led north from 
Cape Parry across the restless, never solidly frozen sea that 
separates the mainland from Banks island. The traffic here was 
carried on exclusively by the westerners at least, so the Cape 
Bathurst people say. This accounts for the breaking off of the 
intercourse as soon as the westerners began to trade with the 
Hudson's Bay Company the easterners did not know the route, 
and were afraid of the westerners, as the Rae River people were 
in Richardson's day and as they and all their neighbours still are. 
The Cape Bexley people dread the half-forgotten westerners 
with whom they once traded almost as much as the (to them) 
semi-fabulous Indians. 

What the Cape Bathurst people traded east chiefly were the 
articles they had bought from the west; what they chiefly re- 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 13 

ceived were stone lamps and stone pots. They bought some 
copper too, but (within the last century or two at least) not 
much, for they were supplied from the west with Siberian metals. 

The preceding sketch has been made briefer than even the 
fewness of facts at the writer's command makes imperative; in 
dealing with the tribes from Banks island to Back river an at- 
tempt will be made at greater thoroughness, not so much be- 
cause the information is more abundant as because this district, 
as Boas has somewhere said, "is virtually unknown." 

The tribes with which it is desired to deal more fully are 
by Boas, the foremost of living students of the Eskimo, appar- 
ently excluded from the "Central Eskimo" group. In a work 
which is fortunately at hand for definite citation, he says: "The 
last tribe of the Central Eskimo, the Utkusiksalirmiut, inhabit 
the estuary of Back river" (The Central Eskimo, Sixth Annual 
Report, Bureau of Ethnology, Washington, 1888). A century 
ago, while brisk intercourse was yet maintained, some cultural 
or other ground might possibly have been found for including 
them with their western neighbours among the Mackenzie River 
Eskimo, but the day for that is past. No geographic term 
descriptive of the district exists without being either too com- 
prehensive (as "Arctic Coast Eskimo," cf. Hanbury), or not 
comprehensive enough and therefore misleading (as "Coronation 
Gulf Eskimo" or "Parry Island Eskimo"). Tentatively we 
shall in the present discussion give them a title from the chief 
commercial resource of their country copper. Banks island and 
Back river may not define absolutely the area within which the 
production of implements of native copper had a decided influence 
on the culture of the people ; on the other hand, future research may 
show that they do. Meantime, for our convenience in the pres- 
ent paper, we will refer to the below-mentioned tribes collectively 
as the Copper Eskimo. In the list, the winter residence of the 
tribe will be given first, and then the summer residence. Tribes 
visited on their own hunting grounds are designated by (1), those 
members which have been interviewed away from home are 
marked (2). The rest are known to us only through the accounts 
of members of other tribes. 



14 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

The KanhiryuatjidgmMt, Minto inlet, Victoria island; be- 
tween Minto inlet and Walker bay. 

(1) The Kanhiryii&rmiut, Nelson head, Banks island, and Cape 
Baring, Victoria island; central Victoria island. 

(1) The Hanerd,gmi,ut, Dolphin and Union strait north of Cape 
Bexley; Victoria island south of Prince Albert sound, about long. 



(1) The Akuliakattdgmiut, Dolphin and Union strait north of 
Cape Bexley; the mainland about Akuliakattak lake, the source 
of Rae river, lat. 68N., long. 118W. 

(1) The Puiblirmlut, Dolphin and Union strait near Listen 
and Sutton islands ; Victoria island north and northeast of Simpson 
bay. 

(1) The Noahdnirmlut, Dolphin and Union strait near Lam- 
bert island; the mainland south of Lambert island. 

(1) The Ualiryudrmiut, west end of Coronation gulf; upper 
Rae river. 

(1) The Pallirmlut, Coronation gulf, southeast of Cape Krus- 
enstern; mouth of Rae river and head of Dease river. 

(1) The Kogluktogmlut, Coronation gulf, southeast of Cape 
Krusenstern; Bloody fall on the Coppermine, Dease river, and 
Great Bear lake (McTavish bay). 

(1) The Nagyuktogmlut or Killinerniiut, central Coronation 
gulf; Victoria island northeast of Lady Franklin point, the main- 
land east of Tree river. One family hunts habitually on Dismal 
lake near the head of Dease river. 

The Kllusiktogtmut, Coronation gulf off mouth of Mac- 
kenzie river of Victoria island ; Mackenzie region of Victoria island. 

The Kogluktuaryummt, Gray bay and the Gulf ice off that 
bay; mouth of the Kogluktuaryuk (which flows into Gray bay) 
up that river inland, and elsewhere. 

(2) The Uminmuktogmiut, Bathurst inlet at all seasons. Have 
talked with one woman of this tribe and obtained some informa- 
tion of them, but neglected the opportunity of getting from her 
the names of the other tribes of the vicinity. To the people 
about the Coppermine all those resident east of Gray bay on 
the mainland are known as Ummmuktogmlut, and all those of 
Victoria island east of Mackenzie river are collectively known as 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 15 

Kflusiktogmiut. This is really no indication of what names 
may exist in that district. The people of western Coronation 
gulf travel little and the second tribe from them in any direction 
is likely to give its name to all beyond. (A striking parallel 
case is found in Alaska, where a small, never important, and 
now nearly extinct tribe, the Nunatagmiut, has given its name 
to a dozen more important tribes and now appears in their 
place on ethnological maps and the census schedules of the 
United States government. I have talked with hundreds 
who are called Nunatagmiut, and have found only three who 
are Nunatagmiut). 

(2) The Ekalluktogmiut, Albert Edward bay; central Victoria 
island. 

The AhiAgmlut, Ogden bay (?); inland towards Back 
river and to the Akilinik river. 

The Kaernermiut or Kainermmt, Back River inland at all 
seasons. 

It will be noticed that as to the geographic distribution 
of the tribes, there is a blank in our information for the south 
coast of Victoria island from Mackenzie river to Albert Edward 
bay. This district is said to be everywhere populated, but my 
informant knew no name for the population other than Kilusik- 
t6gmmt. There are also sure to be several tribes between 
Gray bay and Ogden bay on the mainland, though I could find 
out only the one Uminmtiktogmmt. Banks island is unpeopled 
in summer, for it was depopulated by a series of famines, the 
last of which took off the last few survivors about fifteen years 
ago. There are no people any longer north of Minto inlet on 
the west coast, and there may never have been any on the north 
coast, for so the Prince Albert Sound people believe. It is 
doubtful if there are inhabitants on the east coast of Victoria 
island north of Albert Edward bay. 

We have now named, and located to the best of our present 
ability, the tribes whose natural resources and trade activities 
are to be discussed. The treatment is based on information 
secured on the mainland between Cape Bexley and Gray bay, 
and in southwestern Victoria island, between May 13, 1910, 
and May 17, 1911. For the first three months spent with 



16 



MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 



these people we were handicapped by difficulties in understand- 
ing their speech and in making ourselves understood. After 
that I had little difficulty with the language, and my native 
companions (from Port Clarence, Alaska, and Mackenzie river) 
still less. There wore off, too, during this period, the distrustful 
reserve with which we were in the beginning treated as the 
first complete strangers who had to their knowledge ever come 
to live among them. Naturally the main part of what we 
know about their present and past commerce consists of what 
they have told us, and of apparently safe inferences therefrom. 
Some things we know "of our own knowledge," however, e.g., 
the sources of copper, kettle-stone, pyrites; certain of the land 
and ice trade routes; methods of travel, rate of travel, etc. 

From the point of view of what an Eskimo wants and needs, 
the most westerly of the now existing tribes, the Kanhifyuafmiut, 
had natural resources within the limits of their annual migra- 
tions as a tribe, which must formerly, even more than now, 
have made them nearly or quite the most prosperous tribe of 
the district we are considering. Their winter seat in Banks island 
(near Nelson head) is well supplied with seals for food and 
fuel, but so abundant are the polar bears whose meat and fat 
they prefer to seal, that in 1910-11 over 150 of the tribe's total 
of about 200 lived almost exclusively on bears "and so it was 
with our forefathers too". The muskoxen, whose horns furnish 
them material for spoons and dippers for their own use and for 
trade, as well as for knife handles and a dozen other articles, 
are perhaps more abundant in Banks island than anywhere else 
in the region. Certainly the Hanefagmlut and Puiblirmiut 
have long been purchasing muskox horns and articles made 
of them chiefly from the Kanhiryuarrmut. Prince Albert 
sound (Kanhiryuak) from which the tribe gets its name, supplies 
them well with caribou in summer and autumn, and seals in the 
spring. The three chief rivers that fall into the head of the 
sound are all rich in fish which they spear and hook nets are 
unknown. The south coast of the sound supplies them with 
driftwood sufficient for arrows and other small articles, but bows, 
sleds, pails, etc., they obtain by purchase. The mountains 
to the northeast of the sound furnish the chief article of com- 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 17 

mercial importance copper. The metal is so abundant that 
not only do they gather in the summer enough to supply the 
wants of all their neighbours and to pay for most of their 
own imports, but it is found in such large, pure and easily 
workable masses, that they are induced to make of copper 
various articles which even among other copper gatherers 
(e.g., the Kogluktogmmt of Bloody fall) are made of bone 
or horn, such as the middle-piece of the seal harpoon, snow 
testers for discovering suitable building sites in winter, "feelers" 
for locating seal holes, etc. They find enough fire stone (pyrites) 
for their own use, though not equal in quantity or quality to 
that found among the Hanefagmmt. Since 1855 or thereabout 
M'Clure's abandoned ship the "Investigator" and her caches 
on shore in the Bay of Mercy on north Banks island have helped 
the tribe to retain the mastery of the commercial situation 
locally. Though their last expedition to the wreck (which 
has long been broken up by the waves) was some fifteen or 
twenty years ago, articles of iron are even now more abundant 
and cheaper among them than among the more eastern groups 
who are nearer the present source of supply Hudson bay. 

At present the Sound people trade chiefly with three tribes 
the Hanefagmmt, Puiblifmmt, and Ekalluktogmmt. For a 
hundred or so years ago there are to be added, to our knowledge, 
the now extinct tribes of northwestern Victoria island and Banks 
island and the vanished inhabitants of Cape Parry. There may 
be copper in the district north of Minto inlet; there is almost 
certainly none in Banks island ; there is quite certainly none on 
the mainland near Cape Parry so far as the Eskimo have dis- 
covered ; this whole now deserted territory they must, therefore, 
have supplied with copper through indefinite periods of the 
past, as they now supply both southwestern and southeastern 
Victoria island (but not south-central Victoria island) . What the 
western limits of the copper traffic were in early times future 
archaeological research may show; certainly some of it got 
beyond the Mackenzie delta. 

Next in importance to their activities as original producers 
of copper, comes their traffic as middlemen in stone lamps and 
stone pots. They say (and the uniformity of type and material 



18 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

of the pots and lamps bears witness to it) that they "always" 
got all their supply from the Haneragmiut and Puiblifmiut, 
while we know that these tribes bought them from the Nagyuk- 
togmiut and others whose summer hunting grounds gave them 
access to the common source (I believe) of most stone lamps 
and pots east of Point Hope, Alaska the Kogluktualuk river. 
It may seem at first sight that some lamps might have come 
from the more easterly, and long ago known to us, quarries 
near Back river, but in that case the Sound people would have 
received them from their most intimate friends, the Ekalluktog- 
miut, who are, and no doubt always were, their intermediaries 
in dealing with Back river. That this was so, is strongly 
negatived by the oldest now living Sound people, who say that 
formerly frequently, and now occasionally, they sold pots to 
the Ekalluktogmiut instead of buying from them. 

The Cape Bathurst people still definitely remember that 
pots and lamps were the chief objects of the trips across from 
the mainland at Parry to Banks island. The Sound people now 
occupy Nelson head at the season (March) when these trips 
used to be made, and they say it was always so. I have, there- 
fore, supposed they were the ones with whom the Parry people 
traded. The Sound people seem to have forgotten about this 
trade which the Bathurst people tell of, but this might be ex- 
plained by supposing that the trade to them was never of great 
importance, that they did not know whence the visitors came, 
and that possibly only a few participated in the trading the 
westernmost village of those which then, as now, stretched north- 
east from Nelson head to beyond De Sails bay. Possibly, 
however, the people met at Nelson head were of the proper 
inhabitants of Banks island who acted as middlemen between the 
mainland and Victoria island. 

After stoneware, the chief import of the KanhiryUafmiGt 
was wood, which came chiefly from the same two tribes as the 
stoneware, by routes which may here be conveniently described. 
The map shows it to be less than sixty miles across the penin- 
sula south from the Sound to Dolphin and Union straits, but 
this short distance is over mountains and the Eskimo preferred 
to go around the southwest corner of Victoria island. The trips 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 19 

were, it is said, in recent times at least, usually made by the 
Sound people, and always in winter, for they do not hunt on the 
peninsula in summer, though the Hanefagmiut do. Besides 
pots and lamps they purchased ready-made bows, sleds, snow- 
shovels, wooden platters, etc., and material for arrows, tent 
poles, and lance shafts. For these they paid with copper and 
copper implements, horn dippers and spoons, caribou skins, 
and possibly with articles received from Cape Parry. 

The second route by which wood and stone were imported 
was across the neck of the peninsula from the southeast. This 
was a summer route. A party of the Sound people every year 
hunts southeast to meet the Puiblifmmt, who hunt northeast 
from Simpson bay. Here in midsummer they exchange exactly 
the same articles as they do with the Hanefagmiut in winter 
the pots and lamps they get from both tribes have a common 
origin as above pointed out; the wooden ware received from 
the Hanefagmiut is all of Mackenzie drift wood, that received 
from the Puiblffmhlt is partly driftwood gathered by themselves 
or purchased from the AkuliakattagmiQt, and partly live wood 
from Great Bear lake, chiefly purchased from the KOgluktSgmiQt 
and Pallifmmt. 

The main trade resource of the Hanefagmiut is firestone 
(pyrites), from a creek mouth east of Point Williams, with 
which they supply the entire Dolphin and Union strait, and 
Coronation gulf as far east as Cape Barrow, at least. Wood 
they trade only to the Kanhifyuafmiut. This they gather 
in the fore part of winter on the mainland shore in the 
Akuliakattagmiut territory or purchase it of the Akuliakattag- 
miut the two tribes camp together at Cape Bexley where 
they are visited before or during the dark days by most of the 
Puiblffmiut and by members of other tribes as far east as the 
Nagyuktogmiut. This constitutes at Cape Bexley a sort of 
midwinter fair, which probably is an ancient institution. Except 
as onlookers at this trading gathering, the HanefagmiQt do not 
ever seem to have played an important part in the traffic between 
east and west they were not situated geographically so as to 
be the natural middlemen between any other tribes except in 



20 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

handling stone ware, and here they were probably always far 
second in activity to the Puiblfrmmt. 

Of the still existing tribes the Akullakattagmiut have 
about the fewest natural resources in fact, wood only, and 
in the sale of it they have to compete not alone with the Hanerag- 
mmt and Puiblifmlut who come to gather wood at their very 
door, but also with all the tribes members of which habitually 
or occasionally visit Bear lake. They no doubt were once an 
important link in the commercial chain along the coast from 
the Gulf to Cape Parry. This traffic and the intercourse with 
the western (just where located?) Eskimo, whom they call 
Ualinefmuit, is remembered by them as well as by the Noahonif- 
ralut, Uallifyumiut, and Pallirrmut. The westerners are dis- 
liked and feared by all, next to the Indians. There are living 
at Cape Bexley and elsewhere persons whose parents had their 
homes west along the coast well towards Cape Lyon none of 
these belonged to that part of the westerners who are disliked, 
but welcoming from farther west, were considered to do so, 
and when we were found to be comparatively harmless we were 
said to be an improvement on our ancestors (I was by the 
Akullakattagmiut considered of the same race as my com- 
panions). 

What west-going traffic there was through the hands of the 
Akuliakattagmiut must have consisted almost exclusively of 
stoneware, as the copper needed for the district beyond Parry 
would come logically from Nelson head. Of course the popu- 
lation between Capes Parry and Bexley may have received 
through the Akullakattagmiut, copper, the ultimate source of 
which was either Prince Albert sound or the Coppermine river 
and Dismal lake. This trade may have been of some volume, 
for the remains indicate a considerable population along the 
entire coastline. What they received from the west must 
have been confined pretty strictly to Alaskan goods, for the 
country between the Colville river and Cape Bexley does not, 
so far as we know, produce anything which formerly or now is 
not as abundantly to be had east of Cape Bexley, unless it were 
fishnets, and of their ever having been known to the people 
(except by hearsay) we have found no trace- 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 21 

A cosmopolitan gathering meets every summer on the north 
shore of McTavish bay, Great Bear lake. This is not compara- 
ble with the annual fairs of Barter island, the Colville delta, or 
Kotzebue sound; a parallel is found, however, even to-day, in 
the Akilinik River concourse the "mysterious Akilinik of the 
Greenlanders" (Murdoch, quoted by Rink in a work not now at 
hand). 1 The characterizing thing common to Bear lake and the 
Akilinik river is that though there is plenty of game yet people 
do not come primarily to hunt; and though there is much trad- 
ing, trade is not the chief object every one who comes to either 
place comes to get wood for his own use and for trade with others. 

In the area bounded roughly by the Coppermine on the east, 
Dismal lake and Kendall river on the north, Dease river on 
the west, and Great Bear lake on the south, there met, the sum- 
mer of 1910, members of every tribe, except the Hanefigmmt, 
of those that frequent either shore of Dolphin and Union strait 
and Coronation gulf from Cape Bexley to the Kent peninsula, 
while we know that other years people from even as far east as 
Ogden bay may be found here. In other words, people who 
usually go to the Akilinik for wood, come to Bear lake occasion- 
ally for the same purpose. A glance at the map will show what 
a unifying influence these two gathering regions must have had 
on the culture of a large part of the Eskimo race. Even the 
Greenlanders knew of the Akilinik vaguely; it would be strange 
if careful inquiry on this head in Smith sound and Hudson strait 
did not bring out similar or more definite knowledge. 

It may be thought that the flocking of the Eskimo to the 
vicinity of Bear lake is a thing of recent years, the opinion being 
based on the fact that none of the numerous travellers who have 
visited Bear lake have informed us on the subject. That they 
did not do so ceases to be strange when one remembers that the 
first and last of these had Indians for guides who know about 
where the Eskimo may be expected, who are in deadly fear of 

1 The Akilinik would not have remained so long "mysterious" (known 
only, so far as the writer is aware, through Greenlandic folk-lore) if travellers 
in northeastern Canada had taken the trouble to make geographic inquiries 
and to record the native names of conspicuous natural features.. It is one 
of the large rivers of Canada and one of the chief foci of commercial activity 
and cultural development of Arctic America. 



22 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

them, and carefully avoid their haunts. Besides, the white men 
usually had boats and always sought to follow routes where wood 
could be had for fuel; this confined them to the wooded valleys 
of the Coppermine, Kendall, and Dease, all of which (in so far as 
they are wooded) the Eskimo pretty rigidly avoid, through fear 
of the Indians. A journey made the summer of 1910 along the 
routes of Dease and Simpson, Richardson, Rae, or Hanbury 
would have revealed not a single Eskimo, nor would a coasting 
voyage of Great Bear lake have done so either. The Eskimo 
frequent the barren highlands, camp usually among mottled 
boulders where their mottled little tents are seldom discernible 
with the naked eye at over half a mile; they do not often make 
fire and never make large ones, and they keep a remarkably keen 
watch day and night, always ready to flee on hearing the report 
of a gun or seeing a man, a smoke, or a fresh trail or other sign 
of human presence. Even after we had been with them four 
months it was hard to keep them from fleeing precipitately on 
sighting a tipi camp, which proved to be that of the English 
travellers Melvill and Hornby (September, 1910), near the east- 
ern treeline of the Dease river. 

The Eskimo themselves say they "always" hunted to the 
shore of Great Bear lake (eastern part of the north shore of Mc- 
Tavish bay). The oldest of the active hunters (perhaps 45 or 
50 years old) told us that, when they first remember, people in 
greater number than now used to hunt to the lake shore. Some 
had never seen signs of the immediate presence of Indians; one 
man had twice been in a party which had had occasion to flee 
from the very beach of the lake once on hearing the report of 
a gun; another time on seeing smoke. (It may have been 
through hearsay from Hudson bay that they were able to identify 
the report of a gun as a sign of the nearness of Indians, for this 
happened when a man now forty years old, at least, was a small 
boy, and most of them had never seen a gun fired until we hunted 
with them. It is possible, of course, that the memory of fire- 
arms was preserved by the Pallirmiut ( ?) whom Richardson and 
Rae met some fifty years ago). 

As the object is woodgathering rather than trade, the people 
who frequent the district never have occasion to come together 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 23 

at a single time and place. The largest camp we ever saw prob- 
ably did not have over forty individuals and the total seen by 
us was not far from two hundred. There were, however, parties 
whom we never had the chance to see some had come and gone 
before the band we were with reached Dease river (the first week 
in August), others came and went while we were hunting west 
and south of the main woodgathering place, which is a clump of 
remarkably heavy trees located on an eastern (unmapped) 
branch of the upper Dease which heads near the east end of Mc- 
Tavish bay and flows north, northwest, west, and last southwest 
to join the main Dease about twenty miles above its mouth. 
This clump of trees is known to the Bear Lake Slaves as "Big 
Stick island" and is about 25 miles, as the crow flies, from the 
mouth of the Dease, in a direction a little north of east. 

The most westerly route from the sea to "Big Stick island" 
leads from the mouth of Richardson river to the narrows of Dismal 
lake. Here those parties that have kayaks ferry across while 
those without boats approach the lake some three miles farther 
cast, where it is fordable along the west side of a group of willow- 
grown islands. From the narrows the road leads south about 
eight miles to the crest of the Great Bear Lake-Coronation Gulf 
divide and another eight miles down a small stream that runs 
through a chain of ponds to Imaernirk lake, the source of the 
middle branch of the Dease. The road then skirts the east 
shore of this lake for five or six miles, passes south over another 
small divide (between the middle and south branches of the 
Dease) to "Big Stick island." This route is followed generally 
by members of the Puiblifmiut, Noahdnirmmt, Ualliryumiut, 
Pallifmlut, Nagyuktogmmt, and Kogluktogmiut. In 1910 the 
Kogluktogmmt were the only tribe whose full strength was found 
south of the Dease the others were represented by groups of a 
few families. There were three families from Cape Bexley (Aku- 
liakattagmiut). Some years the entire Kogluktogmiut tribe 
spends the whole summer on Bloody fall of the Coppermine, 
and portions of other tribes occasionally fish there too. In 1910 
there were no people at all anywhere on the lower Coppermine. 

Other routes, whose minutiae are unknown to me, lead from 
the sea to various points west of the Kent peninsula to the Cop- 



24 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

permine east of McTavish bay, cross the river there and strike the 
northeast corner of the bay. Those who followed this route some- 
times did not get quite to "Big Stick island," for they found suit- 
able wood in the Coppermine valley. In 1910 one party that 
came by it did not return by this route, but joined the Kogluk- 
togmmt (or followed them, rather) going by the western route 
to the mouth of the Coppermine, and then proceeded homeward 
east along the ice of Coronation gulf. 

Some of those bound for Great Bear lake come a greater or 
lesser part of the way by sled in the spring, others pack the entire 
distance from the sea. Some carry kayaks for spearing caribou, 
but these are seldom if ever brought farther south than the head 
of the middle Dease. In the autumn all go back to the sea by sleds 
made during the summer. Most returning families have, there- 
fore, a sled to sell, for their old sleds are waiting for them on or 
near the coast. It is these sleds that eventually find their way 
to all parts of Victoria island and along the mainland towards 
Ogden bay until they meet the sleds that have come similarly 
from the Akilinik. 

Immediately on arrival in the summer, at a source of suit- 
able timber, trees are chopped down (with adzes it is a half- 
day's job to chop down a tree 18 inches in diameter) and adzed 
into planks or "roughed" into other suitable shapes. These are 
then set to dry and the party proceeds south or west in search 
of game. In the autumn when ice begins to form on the smallest 
ponds the parties straggle to "Big Stick island" or to wherever 
their wood has been set to dry. Sleds are first made, and if the 
season is early, few other articles are finished, but are carried 
"in the rough" to the seacoast by the first suitable fall of snow. 
In 1910 the season was late, however, and while they waited on 
it, the men finished new bows, spear shafts, platters, pails, 
tables, planks for snowhouse floors, etc. Finally their supply 
of dried caribou meat ran low and some of them started off 
carrying their belongings on their backs north towards the 
divide, for they can always be sure of finding snow for their sleds 
at that season (the middle of October) when they near Dismal 
lake. 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 25 

In travelling by sled these Eskimo make short halts every 
four or five miles. Every such place is marked by a pile of 
shavings, for they are eager to get their wares in shape for sale 
on the coast ; besides, the finished article is lighter to carry than 
the "rough" out of which it was made. 

All the people who come to Great Bear lake by a route west 
of the Coppermine river find copper enough for their own use 
in the mountains north of Dismal lake. There seems to be 
plenty of the metal, but it is not found in such large masses nor 
so pure as in Victoria island. It is well suited for arrow and 
spear heads, however, though a piece large enough for a good 
knife or ice-pick is only rarely found. Some of the copper 
found here each summer is traded to members of the same 
tribes who have hunted in copperless districts, but little or 
none is sold to other tribes indeed, both Victoria island and Bath- 
urst inlet are better supplied than they. Those who come to 
Great Bear lake by a route east of the Coppermine river ap- 
parently get their copper mainly from Bathurst inlet. 

The above-mentioned tribes that come to "Big Stick 
island" embrace most of the people who seek the kettlestone 
(soapstone) quarries on the Kogluktualuk (Tree river, about 
long. 117 30' on the south coast of Coronation gulf). I have 
heard of one case from Cape Bexley of a family going all the way 
to the quarries to get a pot for their own use. This was con- 
sidered at Cape Bexley a remarkable thing to do and the story 
is frequently told even now, though the event took place over 
twenty years ago. The woman of the family is still living. A 
song she composed to commemorate the event is still one of the 
most popular songs in Coronation gulf, as well as in the strait. 
What the eastern limit of the pilgrimages may be, we had no 
means to determine. It is probably not far east of the Kent 
peninsula. 

But these distant tribes that occasionally send a family 
to the quarries get most of their pots and lamps by purchase. 
Wood and stone are, therefore, the export wares of the western 
half of Coronation gulf to the eastern half of it, to Victoria island, 
and to the Strait to the west. 



26 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

The market for wooden wares extends to-day to the north 
to the extreme limit of the inhabited districts; it may have been 
so in the past too, when that limit was farther north Prince 
Patrick island, Melville island, and the others where ruins 
testify to a former population that may once have furnished the 
Gulf with customers. To the west the limit no doubt always 
was near Cape Bexley and to the east, as now, wares from Akilinik 
met those from the Gulf halfway. The stoneware has and had 
a wider field. Banks island and Victoria island almost certainly 
never had any other source of supply and the islands north of 
them may not have had any other; to the west Bering strait 
even may not have been the extreme limit of stone lamps made 
in the Gulf; to the east, however, there are competing stone- 
workers at Back river and perhaps even nearer than that. 

The EkallQktSgmiQt, so far as our inquiries could bring 
out, have no special commercial resources. They are, however, 
an important link in the chain of traffic from the Akilinik to 
Cape Parry and to Alaska a chain that has now been broken at 
Nelson head. There are still, however, the important tribe 
of the KanhiryuSrmmt and a remnant of the Kanhiryuatji- 
5gmIQt who deal with Hudson bay chiefly through the Ekal- 
iQktSgmiut. They also meet the Turnunirohifmiut of North 
Devon and the NetjiligmlQt of King Williamsland, with whom 
they have dealings the nature of which we did not make out. 

East of Victoria island among the islands and east of Kent 
peninsula on the mainland, our information is unfortunately 
as yet too scant to allow us to add anything of value to what 
was said above in the discussion of the trade routes. 

It really follows from the preceding, but may be worth 
definitely pointing out, that a certain tribal specialization of 
industries and to a less extent a division of labour among indi- 
viduals, has resulted from the differing natural resources of the 
various districts and the attendant intertribal commerce. I 
have found it characteristic of Eskimo generally (and especially 
of those west of Cape Parry) that each tribe believes the arti- 
facts made by its own members to be superior to the correspond- 
ing articles made by ousiders. A few exceptions are known to 
me from western Alaska few because of limited opportunities 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 27 

of investigation, no doubt, for industries there varied considerab- 
ly among tribes. By the Port Clarence people the Unalit were 
considered to excel in the making of wooden ware, and practic- 
ally none was made by the Port Clarence people, though materials 
were abundant. They depended almost exclusively on purchase 
from the Unalit and acted as middlemen between them and 
Siberia, though they could easily have made their own trading 
stock had they cared to. The Diomedes people were considered 
to excel in the making of waterboots and many were purchased 
of them, though sealskins were plenty at Port Clarence. Stone 
lamps were made occasionally, but they were considered poor 
compared with the "lamps from the east." The eastern lamps 
were supposed to "save oil" apparently in a (to our minds) 
miraculous way. It was said that though a home-made lamp 
were a duplicate in shape and size of the imported article, it 
would use twice as much oil and give no more light or heat. 

Among the Copper Eskimo the Hanefagmmt are considered 
by the Kanhiryuarmmt to excel in bow making, though bows 
are purchased also from the Puiblfrmiut. On the other hand, 
the sleds and tent sticks purchased of the same two tribes are 
under a reverse estimation those from the Puiblifmiut are 
preferred. As said above, the Puiblirmlut make only part of 
the wooden ware they sell; a large part comes from the Pal- 
lifmiut and KoglQktogmiut, who, therefore, deserve much of what 
credit there is in the sleds, etc., sold to the Kanhiryuafmlut. 
The Kanhiryuafmlut make bows only in an extremity, and 
consider them poor bows. 

In general, those who get wood on Dease river finish only 
a few of the articles intended for sale they finish all sleds 
and tent sticks and most tables, lamp stands, and floor planks. 
Snowshovels, bowls, dishes, etc., are generally sold "in the 
rough" and finished by the buyer. 

Among the Nagyuktogmiut I found during the winter 
1910-11, that a large snowshovel is one of the most valuable 
of a man's possessions. One I bought was valued at two butcher 
knives and sold reluctantly at that, while the same man offered 
me the better of his two dogs or a big new sled for one knife, 
selling the shovel for two knives only when he found he could 



28 MUSEUM BULLETIN NO. 6. 

not get even one of them for anything he had to offer for I 
had long tried unsuccessfully to get a shovel. 

It may be said, then, that the people who frequent Great 
Bear lake are not so much manufacturers of wooden ware as 
the gatherers and distributers of wood. 

The people who have access to the mouth of the Kogluk- 
tualuk are manufacturers of lamps and pots still, though their 
market now can be but a small fraction of what it once was. 
To make a large pot (inside measure say 9 X 40 inches and 7 
inches deep) is said to take all a man's spare time for a year, 
and some take two years to the making of a pot. Lamps are 
more quickly made. Certain individuals are considered expert 
pot makers, and many others attain old age without ever having 
made a large pot, though all have owned one or more. A man 
who spends the summer making a pot must live that summer 
on fish and must, therefore, to clothe himself and his family, buy 
caribou for the winter from those who have been at the caribou 
grounds while he was stonecutting. No man of these tribes 
probably ever devoted even half the summer of his active life 
to stonework, yet we have here the beginning of division of labour, 
the germ of a "trade". These pot and lamp makers furnish 
the best example known to me both of specialization of industries 
by tribes and of the division of labour among individuals. The 
division of labour between the sexes hardly finds a logical place 
under the title chosen for the present paper, as its dependence 
on natural resources and commerce is not close nor self-evident, 
though to a degree there no doubt is such dependence. 

Though the KanhifyuSrmiut are the largest producers and 
exporters of copper within the district, they have not developed 
into manufacturers of copper implements as the tribes near the 
soapstone quarries have developed into pot-makers, probably 
because copper is more portable and its uses are more varied 
for cutting and stabbing weapons, fish-hooks, tools, shafts and 
rods, ice picks, patches for articles of horn, bone and wood, 
rivets, needles, etc. The material for a copper knife weighs less 
than the made knife the caribou horn handle can be added by the 
member of any tribe: a pot probably does not weigh over 10 per 
cent or 15 per cent of what the block weighed that went to make it, 



PRESENT COMMERCE AMONG ARCTIC COAST ESKIMO. 29 

which explains why the pot must be made by anyone who wishes to 
profit by the accessibility of pot-stone. The Kanhiryuarmiut do, 
however, sell a considerable number of made copper snow- 
knives long two-handled double-edged knives which they and 
other tribes copy faithfully in iron, when the iron is available. 

The Parry Peninsula 
July 25, 1911. 



The first number of the Museum Bulletin was entitled, Victoria Me- 
morial Museum Bulletin Number 1. 

The following articles of the Anthropological Series of Museum Bulletins 
have been issued. 

Anthropological Series. 

1. The archaeology of Blandford township, Oxford county, Ontario; by VV. J. 

Wintemberg. 

2. Some aspects of puberty fasting among the Ojibwas; by Paul Radin. 



University of California. Los Angeles 



L 006 853 654 9