THE TIME is now ripe to introduce you to a few of my Eskimo friends. The place to begin is at the cabin of Big Jim and Nakuchluk, for this is the center, social, spiritual, and economic, of the native population of Wiseman. I think the economic is the most important, for Big Jim, due to his great energy and experience, has generally had more food and more worldly wealth than any of the other natives. With the prevalent Eskimo custom of "potlatching," dividing up whenever one has more than the others, Big Jim has sometimes been the chief support of the entire Eskimo community. In addition every one admires him for his cool-headed courage which about five years ago enabled him to kill a bear near Coldfoot with an ax. Furthermore, Jim is wise, kind, and without favoritism, so it is quite natural that he should be the leader, and his large, clean cabin the communal center of the Eskimos of Wiseman.
Perhaps some night, after supper and half an hour of chatting around the roadhouse, I decide to pay Big Jim a visit. I start down the main street and across the Wiseman Creek bridge, with yellow light pouring out on the snow from a couple of cabins to my right, and moonlight flooding the whole frozen valley of the river to my left. At the store I turn and cut diagonally back from the river, passing more