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The Hudson Bay Eskimos: Encyclopedia Arctica 8: Anthropology and Archeology
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

The Hudson Bay Eskimos

EA-Anthropology
(Kaj Birket-Smith)

THE HUDSON BAY ESKIMOS

Page
Introduction 1
Exploration and Contact with White Men 4
Physical Anthropology and Linguistics 6
Culture 7
Bibliography 17

EA-Anthropology
(Kaj Birket-Smith)

THE HUDSON BAY ESKIMOS
Introduction
The term Hudson Bay Eskimos is here defined as comprising there tribal
groups to the west and northwest of Hudson Bay — the Caribou, Netsilik, and
Iglulik — all of which, though closely related to each other physically,
Linguistically, and culturally, are still sufficiently distinct to consider
themselves separate units. Each group is again a loose congeries of "tribes"
in the usual Eskimo sense of the word, i.e., not in a political or economic
meaning but as a convenient designation of minor local communities. In con–
sequence, the number both of "tribes" and of the families they comprise is far
from being stable and is, in effect, arbitrary. The following are, however,
more or less generally accepted:
I. Caribou Eskimos. In the treeless country west of Hudson Bay from
the timber line in the south to the watershed between Back River and Thelon
River-Baker Lake in the north; on the upper course of the Thelon and west of
the Dubawnt they seldom, or never, come. (1) Padlermiut ("willow* people")
from Churchill northward to Dawson Inlet and inland where lakes Hikoligyuaq
and Maguse are important centers of population. The westernmost Padlermiut
1

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

are known to the inhabitants of the coast as Ahiaqmiut ("the out-of-the-way–
ones") and those near Maguse Lake are often called Tahiuharmiut ("people of
the place like a lake"). (2) Harvaqtormiut ("people of the place abounding
in rapids") on the lower Kazan and to the northwest thereof. (3) Hauneqtormiut
("people of the place where bones abound") on the coast between Dawson and
Rankin Inlets and inland toward the Kazen. (4) Qaernermiut ("people of the
flat land," formerly erroneously called Kinipetu) in the Baker Lake region,
extending as far as Schultz Lake. Qaerneq being the name of the country be–
hind Rankin Inlet, it is probable that their territory has shifted to the north–
west. The northwesternmost Qaernermiut are sometimes called Ahiaqmiut ("salmon
berries people").
II. Netsilik Eskimos ("people of the sealing places" ). North of the
Caribou Eskimos on the middle and lower courses of Back River and the coast
from Queen Maud Gulf in the west to Simpson Peninsula in the east, whence a
number of families have migrated to Repulse Bay within the present century.
(1) Ualiarlit ("western ones") on lakes Pelly, Garry, and Macdougall. (2)
Haningayormiut ("people of that which lies opposite") between Lake Macdougall
and Lake Franklin. (3) Utkuhigyalingmiut ("people of the soapstone place")
at the mouth and the lower part of Back River. (4) Ugyulingmiut ("people
of the bearded-seal place"), originally on the Adelaide Peninsula but, after
a famine that greatly reduced their numbers, they joined the Utkuhigyalingmiut.
(5) Netsilingmiut ("people of the ringed-seal place") on the Boothia Isthmus.
The Ilivilermiut ("mainland people") now inhabiting Adelaide Peninsula, the
Qeqertarmiut ("island people")at the mouth of Murchison River, the Kitlermiut
("people living westernmost out by the sea") on Boothia Peninsula north of the
Isthmus, and the Arvertormiut ("people of the place where bowhead-whales abound")

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

at Bellot Strait are all subtribes of the Netsilingmiut proper. The slow
pushing to the west, which probably took place in the 19th century and re–
sulted in the occupation of Adelaide Peninsula and King William Island, was
mainly due to the shortage of driftwood at Boothia Peninsula. (6) Sinimiut
("people of the edge") on the east coast of Boothia Peninsula, now practically
extinct as a result of disease in the beginning of the 20th century. Their
country was taken over by the (7) Arviligyuarmiut ("people of the bowhead
whaling place") at Pelly Bay. As early as the latter half of the 19th century
members of this tribe came to the Hudson Bay region attracted by the whalers
and later by the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company trading post at
Repulse Bay.
III. Iglulik Eskimos ("people of the house plare" — village). On the
west side of Roe's Welcome from Chesterfield Inlet to Repulse Bay, on Melville
Peninsula, and northern Baffin Island. (1) Aivilingmiut ("people of the walrus
place") on the coast between Chesterfield Inlet and Cape Wilson whence they
have immigrated to Southampton Island after the extermination by disease of the
aboriginal population, the Sadlermiut in the winter of 1902-03. (2) Igluling–
miut ("people of the house place") on the east coast of Melville Peninsula
north of Cape Jermain and on both shores of Fury and Hecla Strait. (3) Tununer–
miut ("people of the backside of the land") at Ponds and Admiralty inlets in
northern Baffin Island.
It is scarcely possible to give a pr e é cis of the numbers of these groups.
The constantly roving habits of the population and the fact that each person
may appear under several names make illusory the idea that a real census has
been taken. However, according to the investigations of the Fifth Thule Ex–
pedition 1921-24 the total number of the Caribou, Netsilik, and Iglulik Eskimos

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

was 467, 259 (excluding an indefinite but small number of immigrants to Hudson
Bay), and 504, respectively. Even though these numbers no doubt are rather
too small they indicate a remarkably sparse population. This is confirmed by
the official population statistics of 1947.
Exploration and Contact with White Men
The first contact with the Hudson Bay Eskimos dates back to the beginning
of the seventeenth century, after Baffin discovered Lancaster Sound, when sev–
eral expeditions, in their vain attempts to find a Northwest Passage, sailed
along the western shores of Hudson Bay. In general little is known about these
voyages, and they contributed little information on the inhabitants of the
country. Some meager details are contained in the few existing reports of the
expeditions of the following century, whereas some general descriptions of
Hudson Bay from the same period have either practically nothing on the people
or refer to those east of the bay.
A new era in the history of these regions opened up when the search for
the Northwest Passage was revived in the early part of the nineteenth century.
On their first expeditions in 1818 and 1819-20, respectively, both John Ross
and W. E. Parry visited northern Baffin Island. It was, however, their second
journeys which resulted in their most important contributions to Eskimology.
During their stay at Winter Island and Iglulik, Parry and his second-in-command,
G. F. Lyon, had intimate connections with the native population and gave excel–
lent accounts of their life. While Ross's description of the Netailik Eskimos
cannot compare with these, it nevertheless contains much valuable information.
In the following years these regions were explored by an increasing number
of expeditions all of which, however, were more engaged in geographical discoveries

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

and the search for traces of the ill-fated Franklin expedition than in ethno–
graphical observations. Three expeditions form, to some extent at least, ex–
ceptions to the rule, viz., M'Clintock's voyage on the Fox and Hall's and
Schwatka's sledge journeys to King William Island. Valuable notes, though of
a casual and sporadic character, are included in the reports of some later
journeys, e.g., those of J.B. and J.W. Tyrrell, Hanbury, Low and others.
Amundsen spent the years 1903-05 among the inhabitants of King William Island,
as the leader of the Gjøa expedition, and gave a sketch of their life which
forms an excellent supplement to that of Ross.
The fundamental ethnographical work on this region is Franz Boas's des–
cription of the Eskimos of Baffin Island and Hudson Bay, based upon the notes
of Captain George Comer. Not until the Fifth Thule Expedition of 1921-24,
however, were these people subjected to scientific investigation, viz., by
Knud Rasmussen, Therkel Mathiassen, and Kaj Birket-Smith. Their researches
have been continued by archaeologists and ethnologists, including Tom Manning,
Graham Rowley, and Jean Gabus.
It will be seen that although our knowledge is or rather recent date,
contact with white men began in the early days of arctic exploration. Of para–
mount importance was the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1670 and
the construction of Fort Prince of Wales at Churchill around 1718, whence a
regular trade with the Eskimos on the west coast of Hudson Bay was carried on.
The influence of this trade was, however, rather superficial, and the effects
of acculturation were not pronounced until American whalers appeared in Hudson
Bay around 1860. The influence of this contact was greatest among the Aiviling–
miut. Still, they retained most of their old habits except for the introduction
of certain foreign goods, and among the groups farther away from the whaling

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

grounds there was hardly any change at all. Whaling was at its height about
1870; since 1900 only a few whalers have wintered in Hudson Bay. In 1903 a
station of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a Hudson's Bay Company trad–
ing post were established at Fullerton, but were removed to Chesterfield a
few years later. Here a Roman Catholic mission was also established in 1912.
Since then contact in the Hudson Bay area has vastly increased, with the
establishment of additional trading stations, and the operations of weather
reporting stations and air bases.
Physical Anthropology and Linguistics
Physically the Hudson Bay Eskimos are typical representatives of their
race, especially as it occurs among the eastern tribes. The average stature,
calculated from measurements of 105 adult males, is 160.6 cm., i.e.., sub–
medium without being small in the anthropological sense of the word. The hair
is black and generally straight, although slightly wavy hair is not so uncom–
mon as might be supposed. The beard is decidedly less prolific than among
Europeans. The color of the skin is rather light and of a grayish-yellowish
tone. A bluish, so-called "Mongolian" patch is commonly observed across the
loins of infants. The iris of the eye is almost always brown, and there is
sometimes an epicanthic ("Mongolian") fold, though not as commonly as often
supposed. The head is relatively large, with a mean cephalic index of 77.3,
i.e., mesocephalic with a distinct leaning toward dolichocephaly. The cheek
bones are wide, the jaws massive, and the face often gives a flat impression.
As a rule it is mesoprosopic, with a mean facial index of 86.4. The nose is
usually well shaped, with a straight or slightly sinuous ridge. The mean nasal
index of 71.3 is within the mesorrhinic group, but close to leptorrhinism.

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

The body is robust and muscular, with a well-developed chest. The length of
the leg is remarkably great compared with the short-legged Greenlanders. On
the other hand, the arms are rather short, as are also the hands and feet.
The language of the Hudson Bay region Eskimos is closely related to that
of other eastern Eskimos. With very little practice a native of Greenland or
Labrador is able to converse freely with them. Although there are some slight
differences in the vocabulary, the most striking difference is in certain
phonetic distinctions. Most prominent among these is a retrogressive labial–
ization and vularization of the consonants which has taken place in Greenland.
In Labrador, on the southern part of Baffin Island, and among the Iglulik
Eskimos we find uvularization, but no labialization; among the Netsilik and
Caribou groups neither of them occurs.
Culture
The establishment of trading posts and missions within the territory of
the Hudson Bay Eskimos has caused profound changes in native life during the
last few decades. Rifles and steel traps have superseded the old-fashioned
bows and stone traps; matches have displaced the use of fire drill or pyrites;
flour, tea, sugar, etc., have been introduced; and cast-off European clothing
is often worn in summertime. The social and religious life has been affected
far less. In the following sketch these recent traits are ignored, and only
aboriginal conditions are taken into consideration. For convenience, the present
tense is used throughout.
Numerous house ruins at the coast testify that the so-called Thule culture
once prevailed in these regions, but succumbed when groups from the interior,
the ancestors of the present Netsilik and Iglulik people and close relatives

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

of the Caribou group, pushed down to the sea. This event, which is supposed
to be mainly the outcome of an upheaval of the land that caused the great whales
and walruses to disappear from the shallow waters of the Northwest Passage,
probably took place only a few centuries ago. There isevidence that an off–
shoot of the Thule culture survived on the west coast of Hudson Bay up to the
middle of the eighteenth century; it existed on Southampton Island until 1902-03,
when the original inhabitants were exterminated by disease. Moreover, it is
likely that the Thule people, at Least to some degree, mixed with the intruders.
Netsilik and even more so Iglulik culture still contain a rich inheritance from
their Thule predecessors; their implements and methods of sea-mammal hunting
as well as a considerable number of other culture elements all seem to be more
or less copied from Thule patterns.
We find the simplest culture type among the Caribou Eskimos. Of these
only a few Qaernermiut families have an intimate connection with the sea, and
it is evident that it dates only from the wintering of the American whalers in
the 19th century. Only the Hauneqtormiut and scarcely half of the Padlermiut
visit the coast of Hudson Bay every summer, where they are engaged in hunting
walrus, and ringed and bearded seals at the ice edge. Kayaks and harpoons are
the common implements used. Nevertheless, even this group is far from being
attached to the sea. Their annual sojourn at the coast does not exceed two
months, and winter camps are never found there. The meat of sea mammals is
rarely eaten when caribou meat is at hand; blubber is used only for lighting,
never for heating or cooking.
Probably more than half of the Caribou Eskimos live on the arctic prairies
all the year round without ever coming down to the sea, and depend entirely
upon caribou hunting and on fishing in rivers and lakes. In autumn the founda–
tion of the following year's economy is laid by the important hunts when the

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

caribou herds, during their migration southward, cross the rivers and lakes.
For this purpose line of stone cairns, sometimes several miles long, are built
in such a manner that the animals, on coming over a ridge, are suddenly confronted
by them. The caribou then move along, guided by the lines of cairns, to the
place where the hunters lie in wait with kayaks and lances or, if the row does
not end at a river or a lake, with bows and arrows. During the autumn trout
run, fishing is also pursued with leisters at stone weirs. In this manner a
store of food is collected sufficient for a great part of the winter, while at
the same time caribou skins are procured for winter clothing. Some caribou [: ]
always remain on the prairie even in the most severe winter, and these are
hunted by means of pitfalls. Musk-ox hunting is now prohibited by the Canadian
government, but fox trapping has become important. The occupation subject to
fewest changes perhaps is fishing, which is first practiced with the leister,
later with the hook. It seems that formerly the Caribou Eskimos were also aware
of the method of fishing with harpoons from snow huts on the lake ice. Never–
theless, there usually occurs a period of want at the end of the winter. Only
with the arrival of the caribou herds in spring is the turning point reached.
The first to come are the cows with young, then the cows with year-old calves,
and lastly, well into the summer, the old bulls. The hunting methods are essen–
tially the same as during the autumn. When the summer trout run starts, fishing
is carried on at the weirs.
The Netsiliks at Back River now live in much the same way as the inland
Caribou Eskimos, but, formerly at least, the Utkuhigyalingmiut visited the sea
in the late winter and carried on sealing at the breathing holes, not so much
for the sake of eating at the time but to procure oil for the next autumn and
early winter. As a whole, life in summer and autumn among all Netsilik people

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

differs little from that of the Caribou group. The principal difference is
in the way they spend the winter.
When the autumn caribou hunts have ceased and the women have finished
the new winter clothing, the Netsilik Eskimos start for the sea ice where the
seals have their breathing holes. Here hunting is carried on with harpoons.
When most of the seals in a given vicinity have been secured, the camp is moved
to another place on the ice. Sometimes a snow house is built over one of the
narrow cracks formed by the currents, and the seal is harpooned from the inside
of the hut. Another method, where two hunters work together, one lying on his
belly looking into the water and guiding the harpoon while his companion holds it
ready to thrust, is now obsolete.
In late spring when the seals climb up on to the ice and bask in the sun,
the hunter pretends to be a seal and, with seal-like behavior manages to get
near enough so he can use his harpoon. This method is not much practiced, how–
ever, because basking seals are not numerous until so late in the spring that
the ice is more or less covered with water pools.
Thus the winter and spring occupations of the Netsilik group show an adap–
tation to the sea ice foreign to the Caribou Eskimos. Among the Iglulik the
connection with the sea is even closer, although not nearly so intimate as,
for example, among the inhabitants of southern Greenland or the west coast of
Alaska. The Iglulik, like the Netsilik Eskimos, spend most of the year in
caribou hunting, trout fishing, and sealing on the ice; but, as soon as the
ice breaks up, seals, walrus, and, more rarely, white whales (beluga) are pur–
sued from kayaks, and this form of hunting is continued as long as there is
open water. The length of the open season varies, of course, according to local
conditions, but generally lasts from the beginning of August to the middle of
September.

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

The prominent place occupied by caribou hunting means that bows and arrows
are of paramount importance among the weapons. The bow stave is of wood, or
spliced together of pieces of antler or musk-ox horn, and is simple or double–
curved, or with reflex wings. In most cases there is a backing of sinew braid
of the types known as secondary eastern or primary arctic, the latter only among
the Netsilik Eskimos. The arrows are provided with heads of antler, either
barbless or with single or double barbs, and sometimes with a separate iron
blade. The feathering consists of two tangentially placed feathers. The re–
lease is the so-called Mediterranean. Bows and arrows are carried in cases and
quivers of skin.
There are different types of harpoons. The ordinary ice-hunting harpoon
has a detachable toggle head with a line of sealthong or braided sinew. It is
placed on a shaft of wood or antler with a firmly attached, long and slender
foreshaft, likewise of antler. For walrus hunting on the ice a similar harpoon
with a heavy wooden shaft and a short ivory foreshaft is used. Narwhal and
white shale are hunted by means of harpoons similar to the walrus harpoon; the
foreshaft is, however, detachable, and to the end of the line a float made of
a whole sealskin is attached; a drag, consisting of a piece of sealskin is stretch–
ed over a wooden frame, is made fast to the line in front of the float. For
sealing from the kayak they use a light harpoon, likewise with a detachable
foreshaft, but the line is lashed to the shaft to which also a bladder, instead
of the big float, is made fast.
The lance for caribou hunting is a simple spear with an iron blade set
into a long shaft of wood or antler, whereas the walrus and sealing lance is
heavier and has a blade inserted into a detachable foreshaft of bone or ivory.
Among the Iglulik, birds are caught with a two- or three-pronged bird dart,

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

sometimes with sideprongs, and thrown by means of a throwing board. Fish are
speared with a three-pronged leister used in connection with a fish-shaped de–
coy. Barbed harpoons (among the Netsilik Eskimos) and gaffhooks are also used
for fishing. The fish hook is made of iron and inserted into a sinker of antler
or musk-ox horn. The line is of braided sinew and fastened to a curved reel
of antler or wood. Simple gorges are used for catching fish and gulls, and
bolas occur both at Back River and among the Haunequormiut. Snares and stone
traps (deadfalls, box and tower traps) for foxes should also be mentioned.
Wolves are killed with relled-up strips of baleen or musk-ox horn which straighten
out when the blubber in which they are enveloped is digested. Besides the hunt–
ing implement proper, several small accessories are used: wooden pegs on which
the harpoon is placed while waiting at the breathing holes, curved antler probes
with which the shape of the hole is investigated, indicators of swan's down or bone
for showing when the seal arrives, scoops for removing ice from the breathing
hole, bone needles for closing the wounds of the seal, etc.
The means of communication may also be considered hunting devices as they
are indispensable in the daily struggle for food. They comprise dog sledges
and kayaks; the open skin boat or umiak is quite unknown. The sledge can be
used during three-fourths of the year. The construction is simple, as among
all eastern Eskimos. It consists merely of runners and cross slats lashed to–
gether with sealthongs or babiche. Iglulik sledges often have uprights made of
antler. A typicak Iglulik traveling sledge is about 5 meters long, whereas
among the southern Caribou Eskimos, who have easy access to wood, it may attain
nearly double that length with a width of less than 50 cm. Especially in the
Netsilik territory, where wood is extremely scarce, runners are sometimes made
of rolled-up and frozen musk-ox skins. A large bear hide may also be used as a

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

substitute for a sledge. In the winter a shoeing of peaty muck is applied
to the runners and smeared with water that freezes to a crust of solid ice;
bone shoeing is preferred for use in the wet spring snow. The dogs are harness–
ed fanwise to the sledge and are driven with a short-handled whip. As a rule
they are very few in number owing to the shortage of food. The kayak for in–
land hunting at the deer crossings is a long and narrow craft, 6 or 7 meters
being no unusual length. The Caribou Eskimos use deerskin for covering, where–
as otherwise sealskin is preferred. For sea-mammal hunting the Iglulik Eskimos
also have a heavier and more solidly built kayak. Two-bladed paddles are the
only one used.
In contrast to the early Thule population, the present Hudson Bay Eskimos
always live in snow huts during the winter. Suitable snow is found by means of
an antler probe, and the blocks are cut out with a knife of the same material.
The huts are dome-shaped, with a long entrance passage and a sheet of freshwater
ice for a window. Some Iglulik Eskimos line their huts with sealskin, but this
custom is not found among the two other tribes. For heating the Netsilik and
Iglulik have soapstone blubber lamps. The Caribou Eskimos, however, never
heat their habitations and only use small saucer-shaped lamps for lighting, all
cooking being done over fires in open shelters annexed to the passage. The rest
of the furniture is simple: soapstone cooking pots, drying racks (where blubber
lamps are found), wooden trays and skin water pails, ladles of musk-ox horn,
skin bags, deerskin blankets, etc. Fire is obtained with a drill or two lumps
of pyrites.
In summer the snow huts are displaced by tents, two types of which are in
use. The common Caribou Eskimo tent is conical and covered with a deerskin
sheet somewhat like the Indian tipi but, unlike the latter, closed at the top,

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

the fire being immediately at the side of the entrance. The conical tent is
also said to be the oldest type among the Netsilik people, but many of them
have adopted the Iglulik type. The latter has, almost in the middle of the tent,
a single pole with a short cross-bar, or two or three obliquely set poles crossed
at their upper ends. Two similar posts are placed at the entrance and connected
with the former or the central pole with a stout sealthong. The tent cover is
either caribou or sealskin. In the spring and autumn, when snow huts and tents
are uncomfortable or even impossible to use, other dwellings may be found: snow
shelters with skin roofs, houses of freshwater ice, etc.
The dress is nearly always of deerskin, seal- and musk-ox skins being used
only to a very limited extent. The men wear an inner set of clothes with the
hair inside, consisting of a hooded coat, trousers, and stockings, and an outer
set with the hair outside, consisting of coat, wide breeches, and boots. To
these are added shoes, in summer made of depilated skin and in winter of hairy
skin with a double sole. Women wear only one pair of trousers. The main dif–
ference in the dresses of the two sexes are the enormous hood and the long hind
flap of the women's coat, and the baggy woman's boots with a sewn-on legging at
the top. Tattooing is common among the women.
The principal materials in use are wood, antler, walrus ivory, and skins.
Stone was used formerly; scrap iron is now common but is always worked cold.
The ordinary men's tools are whittling knives, adzes, and bowdrills. The ulu
is the universal instrument of the women, who have also bone and stone scrapers
for skin dressing. All skins are prepared by scraping and, if depilated, with
hot water; urine tanning is unknown except, perhaps, to some Caribou Eskimos at
the coast. Skin dressing and sewing have reached a high degree of perfection,
but all work in wood and antler is rather poor, and there is nothing like the

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

decorative skill shown by the East Greenland and Alaska Eskimos.
The family is the fundamental unit in society. Polygyny on a limited
scale is common among the most skillful hunters, but shortage of women owing
to the killing of newly born girls often entails polyandry among the Netsilik
tribes. Besides the family there is no social grouping of a permanent char–
acter, and even though an especially prominent personality is generally accept–
ed as the leader of the camp, the acknowledgment of his authority is entirely
voluntary. On the other hand, the camp is an economical unit in so far as the
inhabitants have certain customary obligations toward each other in the division
of large game or, in the case of small seals and caribou, in the distribution
of presents of meat. Trapping grounds and hunting fields are considered res
nullius , and personal possession is in the main conditioned by actual use of
the property. A rather considerable trade is carried on, especially between
the Back River and Caribou groups, but the importance of this intercourse prob–
ably increased after the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company posts at the
bay.
According to the view of the Hudson Bay Eskimos, a person consists of a
body, a name, and a soul. The name, in fact, is a kind of soul that is trans–
mitted from a dead person to a newly born child. When a person dies, the body
is wrapped up in skins and left in the open surrounded by a ring of boulders.
The soul, according to the Caribou Eskimos, goes to the sky and is later brought
back to the earth by the Moon Spirit. The Netsilik and Iglulik Eskimos believe
that the soul [: ] goes either to the sky or to the underworld, and both places are
equally pleasant. The former, however, also know a third land of the dead, just
below the crust of the earth. This, however, is a dismal place inhabited only
by the souls of unskillful hunters and untattooed women. The soul is essential

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

to life and good health, and if it is stolen away, the person to whom it happens
will sicken and finally die. Human beings and animals have souls. In addition,
however, all things, including inanimate objects, have this "owner" inua , which
should not be confounded with the souls. Most important of all among the Cari–
bou Eskimos is Hilap-inua; hila ( sila ) means "air," "weather," "universe" and,
in a deeper sense, the magical power that permeates existence, and Hilap-inua
is a personification of that power. Sometimes Hilap-iuna is also spoken of as
Pinga, "he (or she) up there." There seems to be no indication, however, that
Pinga is regarded as a Supreme Being or creator of the world. Other spirits of
distinction are the Moon Spirit and Nuliayuk, the woman living on the bottom of
the sea, often referred to simple as Kavna, "she down there" or Takanakapsaluk,
"the terrible one down there." She is the master of the sea mammals and will
keep them back when she is offended, for which reason she is especially feared
by the coast tribes, whereas she is not known inland at all.
In order to obtain good luck and avoid evil the Eskimos resort to magic
spells, amulets, and, above all, to the observance of numerous taboos. Amulets
are common especially among the Netsilik. Generally they consist of belongings
of deceased persons or pieces of animals which are supposed to confer super–
natural force to the owner. It is a characteristic fact that a person may lose
his amulets and still retain their power. Taboos mostly consist in abstinence
from certain foods and activities such as sewing and hunting. Many of them are
connected with childbirth, menstruation, and death, while other are observed
in deference to the game animals, many of which are supposed to be extremely
sensitive to offense; as a general rule everything belonging to land and sea
animals should be kept strictly apart.
When danger is imminent the Eskimo will fall back upon the assistance of

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

the shaman ( angatkoq ). A shaman may be either male or, more rarely, female
and obtain his power through the help of his assisting spirits. As a rule he
has to undergo training under the guidance of another shaman, but the psycho–
logical qualification for his success, of course, is his ability to be entranced.
He wears a belt hung with all sorts of objects — pieces of skin given by people
he has helped, or miniature carvings said to be the implements of the spirits;
buthis most effective aid for obtaining connections with the spirit world is
the drum. The principal tasks of the shaman are the healing of the sick and the
ensuring of fine weather and good hunting. There is, however, a remarkable dif–
ference between inland and coast shamanism. The former is much more simple than
the latter, which often involves elaborate conjuring performances, tricks, and
ventriloquism, one of the main feats being the visit of the shaman to Nuliayuk
in order to fetch the game, when it has disappeared. Compared to the highly
specialized Siberian shamanism, however, even that of the Netsilik and Iglulik
people remains at a low stage of development.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Amundsen, R. The Northwest Passage . London and New York, 1908.

2. Birket-Smith, Kaj Five Hundred Eskimo Words. Report of the Fifth Thule
Expedition,
Vol. III, p. 3. Copenhagen, 1928.

3. ----. The Caribou Eskimos. Ibid . Vol. V. Copenhagen, 1929.

4. ----. Anthropological Observations on the Central Eskimo.
Ibid . Vol. III, p. 2. Copenhagen, 1940.

5. ----. Ethnographical Collections from the Northwest Passage.
Ibid . Vol. VI. P. 2. Copenhagen, 1945.

EA-Anthrop. Birket-Smith: Hudson Bay Eskimos

6. Boas, F. The Eskimo of Baffin Land and Hudson Bay. Bull. Amer.
Mus. Natur. Hist
. Vol. XV, New York, 1907.

7. Gabus, J. Vie et coutumes des Esquimaux Caribous . Lausanne, 1944.

8. Lyon, G. F. Private Journal . London, 1824.

9. Mathiassen, Th. Archaeolgy of the Central Eskimos. Report of the Fifth
Thule Expedition
. Vol. IV. Copenhagen, 1927.

10. ----. Material Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos. Ibid . Vol. VI,
p. 1. Copenhagen, 1928.

11. Parry, W. E. Journal of a Second Voyage for the Discovery of a North–
West Passage
. London, 1824.

12. Rasmussen, K. Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos. Report
of the Fifth Thule Expedition
. Vol. VII, p. 1. Copen–
hagen, 1929.

13. ----. Observations on the Intellectual Culture of the Caribou
Eskimos. Ibid . Vol. VII, p. 2. Copenhagen, 1930.

14. ----. Iglulik and Caribou Eskimo Texts. Ibid . Vol. VII, p. 3.
Copenhagen, 1930.

15. ----. The Netsilik Eskimos. Ibid . Vol. VIII. Copenhagen,
1931.

16. Ross, J. Narrative of a Second Voyage in Search of a North-West Passage .
London, 1835.

17. Turquetil, A. L'Esquimau . Montreal, 1927.

Kaj Birket-Smith
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