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The Giant

In days of old an enormous man lived with other members of the Inuit tribe in a village beside a large inlet. He was so tall that he could straddle the inlet, and he used to stand that way every morning and wait for the whales to pass beneath him. As soon as one came along he used to scoop it up just as easily as other men scoop up a minnow. And he ate the whole whale just as other men eat a small fish.

One day all the natives manned their boats to catch a whale that was spouting off the shore; but he sat idly by his hut. When the men had harpooned the whale and were having a hard time to hold it and keep their boats from capsizing, he rose and strolled down to the shore and scooped the whale and the boats from the water and placed them on the beach.

Another time when he was tired of walking about, he lay down on a high hill to take a nap.

“You would better be careful,” said the people, “for a couple of huge bears have been seen near the village.”

“Oh, I don’t care for them. If they come too near me, throw some stones at me to waken me,” he said with a yawn.

The bears came, and the people threw the stones and grabbed their spears. The giant sat up.

“Where are they? I see no bears. Where are they?” he asked.

“There! There! Don’t you see them?” cried the Inuit.

“What! those little things! They are not worth all this bustle. They are nothing but small foxes.” And he crushed one between his fingers, and put the other into the eyelet of his boot to strangle it.

3.

Kalopaling

Ka-lo-pa-ling is a strange being who lives in the northern seas. His body is like that of a man except that his feet are very large and look like sealskin muffs. His clothing is made of the skins of eider ducks and, as their bellies are white and their backs are black, his clothes are spotted all over. He cannot speak, but cries all the time, “Be, be! Be, be!”

His jacket has an enormous hood which is an object of fear to the Inuit, for if a kayak upsets and the boatman is drowned, Ka-lo-pa-ling grabs him and puts him into the hood.

The Inuit say that in olden times there were a great many of these creatures, and they often sat in a row along the ice floes, like a flock of penguins. Their numbers have become less and less, till now there are but a few left.

Anyone standing on shore may see them swimming under water very rapidly, and occasionally they rise to the surface as if to get air. They make a great noise by splashing with their feet and arms as they swim. In summer they like to come out and bask on the rocks, but in winter they sit along the edge of the ice or else stay under water.

They often chase the hunters, so the most courageous of the men try to kill them whenever they can get near enough. When the Kalopaling sits sleeping, the hunter comes up very cautiously and throws a walrus harpoon into him. Then he shuts his eyes tight until the Kalopaling is dead, otherwise the hunter’s boat would be capsized and he be drowned. They dare not eat the flesh of the creatures, for it is poisonous; but the dogs eat it.

One time an old woman and her grandson were living alone in a small hut. They had no men to hunt for them and they were very poor. Once in a while, but not often, some of the Inuit took pity on them and brought them seal’s meat, and blubber for their lamp.

One day the boy was so hungry that he cried aloud. His grandmother told him to be quiet, but he cried the harder. She became vexed with him and cried out, “Ho, Kalopaling, come and take this fretful boy away!”

At once the door opened and Kalopaling came hobbling in on his clumsy feet, which were made for swimming and not for walking. The woman put the boy into the large hood, in which he was completely hidden. Then the Kalopaling disappeared as suddenly as he had come.

By and by the Inuit caught more seals than usual and gave her plenty of meat. Then she was sorry that she had given her grandson away, and was more than ever sorry that it was to Kalopaling she had given him. She thought how much of the time he must have to stay in the water with that strange man-like animal. She wept about it, and begged the Inuit to help her get him back.

Some of them said they had seen the boy sitting by a crack in the ice, playing with a whip of seaweed, but none of them knew how to get him. Finally one of the hunters and his wife said, “We may never succeed, but we will see what we can do.”

The water had frozen into thick ice, and the rise and fall of the tide had broken long cracks not far from the shore. Every day the boy used to rise out of the water and sit alongside the cracks, playing, and watching the fish swim down below.

Kalopaling was afraid someone might carry the boy away, so he fastened him to a string of seaweed, the other end of which he kept in his hand. The hunter and his wife watched for the boy to come out, and when they saw him they went toward him. But the boy did not want to go back to live with his grandmother, and as they came near he called out:

“Two men are coming; one with a double jacket, the other with a foxskin jacket.”

Then Kalopaling pulled on the string and the boy disappeared into the water.

Some time after this the hunter and his wife saw the boy again. But before they could lay hold of him the lad sang out:

“Two men are coming.”

And again Kalopaling pulled the string and the boy slipped into the water.

However, the hunter and his wife did not give up trying. They went near the crack and hid behind the big blocks of ice which the tide had piled up. The next time when the boy had just come out they sprang forward and cut the rope before he had time to give the alarm. Then away they went with him to their hut.

As the lad did not wish to return to his grandmother, he stayed with the hunter, and as he grew to be a man he learned all that his new father could teach him, and became the most famous hunter of the tribe.

 

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At the height of Rome one indefatigable traveler during his many travels saw an Inuit.  The native heard of the glory of Rome and at the end of palaver he asked the visitor: ‘Do the Romans get to see ice as I see about me?’

The wayfarer said it was a luxury only Caesar and a few senators could afford. The Inuit sadly shook his head and said,’Save me and my folks from the glory that you speak of.’

benny

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Changing values

In a curious town like Pye-in-the Skye there are many ways to be considered ‘mad.’ Max was not an idiot but the folks thought he was a borderline case. They didn’t take kindly to those who did not live unto their expectations. Nor did they warm up to those who stuck to their guns. As soon as he learned to assemble a refrigerator he knew he wanted to sell one. Where did he go but to the North Pole and naturally the rest sighed and said, ‘Good riddance.’
He wanted to sell refrigerators to the natives.
The Inuit didn’t buy a single one and he died a very poor man. All that he left behind was some ice boxes and a technical manual.
On the other hand Dr. Faustus having made a pact with the devil became the most celebrated scholar. He knew everything that went under the Sun, which passed for knowledge. How the crowned heads and scholars alike feted him! Then came the computers that made him redundant. He died in grief. He said that a machine beat him. Yes.
The world went a-changing! Then came a thaw and ice melted. The polar caps vanished as an icicle in a furnace. The people in Nunavut learned to live with the climate changes. Then someone found the papers of ‘Mad’ Max and it was a discovery that electrified the whole region. They began to make fridges themselves and control their houses to the right temperature.
The world in their own muddling ways saw a great injustice was done to Inuit. They owed to them a great debt for destroying their old way of life. How to repay them?
Nunavut became synonymous the home of refrigerators. The world leaders came to an agreement that fridges made there could be sold worldwide duty-free. Buying fridges made in Nunavut was consistent with principles of ethical living. Inuit prospered.
Who contributed to the welfare of the world more? A fool or a scholar?
benny

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Great Britain was interested in charting the Northwest Passage and there was some 500 kilometres left unexplored so the British Admiralty sent a well equipped Arctic expedition to complete it. Sir John Franklin received the command HMS Erebus on 7 February 1845. Captain Francis Crozier in command of HMS Terror accompanied him. The crew were mostly Englishmen and the ships were fitted with steam engines and carried three years’ worth of conventionally preserved or tinned preserved food supplies. Unfortunately, the latter was supplied from a cut-rate provisioner who was awarded the contract only a few months before the ships were to sail. He had canned using his own process that led to sloppily-applied beads of solder on the cans’ interior edges and allowed lead to leach into the food.The expedition was last seen by Europeans on 26 July 1845, when Captain Dannett of a whaling ship Prince of Wales encountered Terror and Erebus moored to an iceberg in Lancaster Sound.

It is now believed that the expedition wintered in 1845–46 on Beechey Island. The ships became trapped in ice off King William Island in September 1846 and never sailed again. According to a note later found on that island, Franklin died there on 11 June 1847. To date, the exact location of his grave is unknown.

After two years and no word from the expedition, Lady Franklin urged the Admiralty to send a search party. Because the crew carried supplies for three years, the Admiralty waited another year before launching a search. Eventually, more ships and men were lost looking for Franklin than in the expedition itself.

In 1854, Dr.John Rae while surveying the Boothia Peninsula for Hudson Bay Company discovered the true fate of the Franklin party from talking to Inuit. He was told both ships had become icebound, the men had tried to reach safety on foot but had succumbed to cold and some had resorted to cannibalism. Rae’s report to the Admiralty, in a letter headed “Repulse Bay, July 29, 1854,” was published in The Times the day after his arrival back in London on 22 October 1854. This report to the Admirality somehow leaked to the press, which led to widespread revulsion in Victorian society, enraged Franklin’s widow and condemned Rae to ignominy. One of the most eloquent and outspoken critics was the novelist Charles Dickens. It was inconvenient truth. The British Establishment wanted a hero and they made Sir John Franklin one and as the discoverer of Northwest Passage. In the process Dr. Rae the hero of Orkeny was denied the fame due to him.

Reasons why a man is wrongly euologized as the discoverer of North West Passage on insufficient grounds and a man who was entitled to it on patent merits are diffuse: that officers and men of the Royal Navy should be accused of cannibalism or word of Inuit could be trusted as Dr.Rae did was unthinkable in the prevailing mindset of Victorian England. Rae was criticized because he had not gone to the scene of the tragedy to confirm the story, and he was accused of having rushed home to collect the 10,000pounds offered by the British government to anyone who ascertained the fate of Franklin and his party. Rae defended the credibility of the Inuit accounts, and insisted he had not received sufficient information to locate the site of the tragedy until it was too late in the season to continue the search.( Despite the protests of Franklin’s widow, the government’s reward of 10,000pounds for discovering the fate of the missing officers and men was finally granted to Rae and his men.)His adoption of native methods of travel in the Arctic was disapproved of by the Royal Navy.He was, however, accepted as a friend by the Inuit, for whom he had great admiration. Dr. Rae did not softpedal when he found the British naval officers and others who formed snap judgements after spending only a short time in the Hudson Bay company’s territories: “These self-sufficient donkeys come into this country, see the Indians sometimes miserably clad and half-starved, the causes of which they never think of enquiring into, but place it all to the credit of the Company.”

After long and fruitless search it fell to Lady Franklin to send an expedition by her own means. The Fox (177 tons), a three-masted schooner with auxiliary steam power, was purchased, and she put Francis Leopold M’Clintock, who had been promoted to captain in charge.His charge was to recover any survivors, retrieve relics, and to confirm that her husband’s expedition had discovered the Northwest Passage. Money was raised by subscription; the British Admiralty generously contributed many of the supplies. Refitted and strengthened, carrying twenty-eight months of provisions, the Fox left Aberdeen, Scotland, at the end of June 1857.

Tailspin: In his lifetime Rae was a controversial figure. In the 20th century Rae has been recognized as an innovator in techniques of survival in the north, and as the forerunner of the great Arctic explorers Roald Amundsen and Vilhjalmur Stefansson, both of whom acknowledged their debt to him.

I owe this post to BBC- Ray Mears’ Extreme Survival series

( Ack: wikipedia,libweb5.princeton.edu;www.biographi,ca-R.L Richards)

benny

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