VIII ESKIMO BIOGRAPHIES

ONE NIGHT when I was over alone with Big Jim, learning to sing, there was a frenzied knocking at the door. Jim opened it, and there were Bessie and her daughter Jennie, almost choked with crying.

"My Charlie dying," Bessie wailed. "He coughed up blood, he's bleeding from the lungs, come quick."

Then she and Jennie started back on the run to their tiny cabin, about fifty yards away, and Jim and I followed. On the way, Jim made a very practical division of labor. He said: "Me make praying business, you give him medicine."

And so it was arranged. As soon as we got inside the cabin Jim dropped on his knees, and, with bowed head, commenced an earnest Christian prayer for Charlie's recovery. Charlie was sitting at the edge of his bed, bent over an old butter can which was used as a cuspidor, and now and then spitting out a little blood. It was a slight hemorrhage, and on the spur of the moment I could think of no medicine except to make him lie down, as quietly as possible, and to loosen everything tight about his clothing, which was almost nothing. When these simple performances were completed I joined Jim on the floor, and helped with the "Amen" in which Jennie also chorused, but Bessie shook so with sobbing she could not enunciate a sound.

-88-

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Arctic Village
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgment vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I the Background 11
  • Geography 13
  • Climate 19
  • Iii History 29
  • Part II the People 45
  • Iv the Whites 47
  • V an Evening at the Roadhouse 57
  • Vi the Eskimos 72
  • Vii an Evening at Big Jim's 83
  • Viii Eskimo Biographies 88
  • Part III the Economic Life 99
  • Ix Labor 101
  • X Capital 117
  • Xii the Advent of the Mechanical 132
  • Xiii Food 138
  • Xiv Clothing 144
  • Xv Shelter 151
  • Xvi the Quest for Gold 156
  • Xvii Living off the Country 164
  • Xviii Financial Summary 176
  • Part IV the Communal Life 185
  • Xix Law and Law Enforcement 187
  • Xx Voluntary Communal Responsibility 198
  • Xxi Sickness and Health 204
  • Xxii the Hazardous Koyukuk 214
  • Xxiii Quarrels and Unpopularity 222
  • Xxiv Inter-Racial Relations 230
  • Xxv Children and Education 238
  • Part V the Sexual Life 247
  • Xxvi Marriage 249
  • Xxvii Promiscuity and Taboos 264
  • Xxviii Chickens 273
  • Part VI the Recreational Life 283
  • Xxix White Conversation 285
  • Xxx Eskimo Conversation 297
  • Xxxi Dancing 305
  • Xxxii the Arts 315
  • Part VII Koyukuk Philosophy 327
  • Xxxiii the History of the World 329
  • Xxxiv Medicine Men and the Supernatural 340
  • Xxxv Christianity Among the Eskimos 352
  • Xxxvi the Religion of the Whites 358
  • Xxxvii White Happiness 364
  • Conclusion 373
  • Appendix 381
  • General Index 383
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