Charles Francis Hall.

Narrative of the second Arctic expedition made by Charles F. Hall: his voyage to Repulse Bay, sledge journeys to the Straits of Fury and Hecla and to King William's Land, and residence among the Eskimos during the years 1864-'69 online

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Online LibraryCharles Francis HallNarrative of the second Arctic expedition made by Charles F. Hall: his voyage to Repulse Bay, sledge journeys to the Straits of Fury and Hecla and to King William's Land, and residence among the Eskimos during the years 1864-'69 → online text (page 10 of 57)
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passes on board of your ships. Althoiigh my azimuth compasses are of the most
delicate construction, they are virtually of no use except to show how perfectly
fickle and unreliable compasses are in this portion of the North.

62 First Meeting with Innnits. [Scpicmbcr, is64.

Eskimo Joe now sighted -with the telescope a place on the land where the
Inniiits* had had a late encampment, the marks being several tent-poles stand-
ing erect. A few minutes later he sighted a boat which was turned over and
lying above high water on the land ahead. From this we concluded that the
natives could not be far oft', and toward this boat the Sylvia was now directed.
When within one mile of it we were delighted at the sight of a native near this
boat ; and yet the joy was mingled with something that was akin to fear, for he
appeared advancing cautiously toward us with gun in hand, and at the same
time, as Joe thought, loading it. However, I caused my small crew of three to
pull ahead, and soon leaped from the bow of the Sylvia into the muddy shallow
water and waded ashore. The nest moment my hand was in that of noble
Ou-c-laJs (Albert's), as fine a specimen of an Eskimo as ever I met. I told him
that but a few days before I had seen you, and that Captain Chapel had brought
me and the two Innuits then in the boat in his vessel from my country, America.
OM-e-?a's joy on hearing from you seemed equal to mine on meeting him. He told
us that his tupil^, skin tent, and those of several others of his people, Avere just
over a point of land from where we then were, and that if we would stop and
make our encampment there, he and his people would the next day move over
beside us and then we all would have a long talk.

* The appellations Iimmtn and Esldmos -will be used in this Narrative synonymously, as Hall
uses them. It may be as well, however, to give the probable origin of the names and their legit-
imate application. The word Esquimaux — better written Eskimo — is derived from a root indi-
cating, in the language of the,', Northern tribes, a sorcerer. The Innuit name iTniy-Hs/iccmc means
the house where the shamans, sorcerers, conduct their dances and incantations. The Avord Innuit
means peopJc, and is in use from Greenland to Bering Strait. It should take the place of Es-
kimos, the etymology of which is not clear. Mr. W. N. Dall, in a paper read before the American
As.sociatiou in I8G9, and in n number of "The Contributions to North American Ethnology" by
Major J. D. Powell, makes the following additional valued statements :

"The Orarians are distinguished (I) by their language, of which the dialects, in construc-
tion and etymology, bear a strong resemblance to one another throughout the group, and differ in
their homogeneoiisness (as well as the foregoing characters) as strongly fi-om their Indian dialects
adjacent to them ; (II) by their distribution, always confined to the sea-coasts or islands, some-
times entering the mouths of large rivers, as the Yiikon, but only ascending them for a short dis-
tance, and as a rule avoiding the wooded country; (III) by their habits, more maritime and ad-
venturous than the Indians, following hunting, andkilling not only the small seal, but also the sea-
lion and wah-us. Even the great Arctic bow-head whale (and anciently the sperm-whale) falls a
victim to their persevering efforts ; and the patent harpoon, almost universally used by American
whalers in lieu of the old-fashioned article, is a copy, in steel, of the bone .and slate weapon which
the lunuits have used for centuries ; lastly, they are distinguished by their physical characteris-
tics, a light, fresh, yellow complexion, fine color, broad build, scaphocephalic head, great cranial
capacity, and obliquity of the arch of the zygoma. The patterns of their implements and
weapons, and their myths, are similar in a general way throughout the group, and equally differ-
ent from the Indian types.

"The Orarians are divided into two well marked groui)s, namely, the Innuit, comprising
all the so-called Eskimo and Tuskis, and the Aleuts."

September, 1S64.] Holl Eucamps at Noo-wook. 63

To this proposition Hall readily acceded, and made with this
chief and his people at Noo-wook his second encampment, the position
of which has been already given. It is to be remarked, however, that
this position and the succeeding ones which may be named are approx-
imate only. His astronomical observations, reduced from his rough
notes under the superintendence of Mr. R. W. D. Bryan, will be found
in Appendix I.

The tribe was one whose usual residence was at the head of Re-
pulse Bay. They had often held intercourse there and at Depot
Island with the American whalers ; had their English names from
them, and had in their possession the boats and hunting implements of
civihzed life.

Hall and his two Eskimos were soon at home among them, Ebier-
bing and Too-koo-li-too acting from the first as his interpreters, and
finding but little difficulty in this, as the difference between the new
dialect and that of the Cumberland Gulf people was readily over-
come. Hall's first notes speak of OuelaJs people as one would speak of
old acquaintances.

On the 7th [he says], first came into my tupik Artooa, Frank, with his wife
and family, with their dogs and their panniers ; in the evening, Ouela the chief,
and Armow. Armou slept with me, and aU the natives shared my breakfast,
Frank made me a present of six reindeer- tongues and some salmon.

Going off in the morning on a hunt with Artooa, Nu-ker-zlioo, and
Rudolph, Hall met with both white and black Tuk-too — reindeer — and
Ebierbing again succeeded in killing two. Returning in the evening
he joined heartily with his Eskimo brothers in their first Ankooting
service, a superstitious ceremony more than once to be noted in these
pages, and which occasioned many of Hall's subsequent troubles. His

64 First Talk about Franklin. isc-ptcmbcr, ise*.

first inconvenience was the An-ge-kds decree, this day, that no iron
should be filed by either hoh-lu-nas or Innuits till the ice formed.

Armou the next morning, on taking leave, received presents of
ammunition, tobacco, and deer-skin mittens ; and before the party sep-
arated on this day Hall had begun his inquiries as to what these na-
tives might have heard of Franklin's men and what they knew of the
geography of the country further north. He says :

I was not long in arriving at the subject wliicliled me North. When I told
these natives where I wanted to go, to wit, to I-willik (Eepulse Bay), and thence
to Boothia, Felix Peninsula (which they call ISTcitchil-le), to find out all about
some Tcoh-lu-nas, whites, that went there many years ago, they at once told me
that thfere icere two ships lost near Neitchil-le many years ago, and that a great
many Icoh-lu-nas, whites, died — some starved and some were frozen to death — but
that there were four that did not die! How astounded I was as Too-koo-li-too (the
best interpreter of lunuit language into our vernacular that ever accompanied
an Arctic expedition) told me this ! Little did I expect so soon to find natives
that seemed to know a volume of interesting and important facts bearing on the
Franklin Expedition. I had before its a large English Admiralty chart of the
Arctic Eegions from the meridian of Smith's Sound westward to that of Macken-
zie Kiver. They at once pointed out where llepulse Bay was, which they called
I-wil-lik, and thence followed the track of Dr. Eae, whom thej' saw in 1847 and
1 854. They showed the locality of where the two ships were lost, and where Neit-
chil-le is. They pointed out the bay where they themselves were when they heard
about the two ships being fast in the ice, and how the lcoh-lu-7ias left them, and
linallj^ nearly all starved or froze to death. This bay Dr. Eae named Pelly Bay.
These natives all told me that I ought not to think of wintering at I-wil-lik (Ee-
jiulse Bay) ; that 1 was too late for killing any toolc-too there, and that no seals or
walrus could be killed there in winter. Besides all these objections to my win-
tering at Eepulse Baj-, all the natives stated that I could not pass the entrance
to Wager Bay and thence to Eepulse Baj^ at this late season of the year with my
heavily laden boat without great risk of losing the boat and our lives. Indeed, I
could not induce any one of the natives to go with me on account of the reasons
now stated. Besides, they said I Avould not find any Innuits at Eepulse Bay, for
they uniformly left that part of the country in the fall of the year to spend the win-
ter where they coidd kill seals and walrus. They stated that it was their own i)ur-

September, 1864.1 Lofiely FceUfigs. 65

pose to go to Eepulse Bay next season, starting early in tlio spring, and then to
l)rocee(l thence to Neitcliille, just where I wanted to go ; and proposed that if I
wouhl spend the winter here at Noo-wook with them, they would furnish me and
my small company with all the toolc-too, walrus, seal, bear, and musk-ox meat we
wanted ; and, furthermore, they would give us plenty of reindeer furs for oui- win-
ter dresses and bedding, besides helping me in doing anything I desired. Where
else in the world could a more free-hearted, generous people be found ?

After spending several days with them and conversing seriously
on the whole subject, Hall decided, and indeed of necessity, to remain
at Noo-wook for the winter. He communicated the information
quoted above to Captain Kilmer, of the Ansel Gibbs; that this first
news might be safely conveyed to Mr Grinnell, if he himself should
never return home.

On the two following days whales were seen close to shore, their
backs being above water for nearly a half hour. On the 1 0th, Hall
sent his two Eskimos with Rudolph and some of the natives to his last
encampment to bring away his stores. While awaiting their return
the feelings awakened by his now isolated situation were thus recorded
in his note-book : " I have felt lonely all day, although within a stone's
throw are three tupiJcs filled with these kind-hearted children of the
North. They have been very kind, some going to the lakelet for
water, some getting the dwarf shrub used in these regions for fuel, and
some preparing my food."

The experience of his former Expedition having eai'ly taught him
the helplessness of these poor beings when suffering with sickness or
bodily injuries, he was not unprepared to render assistance, and he
had early calls upon him from Ar-too-a and Ou-e-la. The case
of one of his patients is illustrative. Ooh-bar-loo^ an old woman, suf-
fering with inflamed eyes, was constantly rubbing them with her
S. Ex. 27 5

66 Br. Mae's Ou-Ug-bUCk. [September, IS64.

uncleanly fists. Having first sponged off with soap and water "the
thick coat of primitive soil " which covered Ook-har-lod's whole face,
and then presented her with a piece of cotton cloth for her own use
in cleansing her eyes, he received her profound thanks for this appli-
cation of nature's remedy, with the declaration that he was the best
of An-ge-lcos. This woman remembered that when very young she
had staid aboard Parry's ship, and showed tattooing done upon one
of her legs at that time by Orozier's men.

The acquaintance made with the Eskimos was now daily im-
proved by inquiries in regard to the expeditions of Parry, Ross, Eae,
and Franklin, in order that, by comparing with the official narratives
of those officers what could now be heard from these people. Hall could
learn what confidence to place in their accounts of Franklin. He was
much encouraged by the seeming correctness of their replies. Among
these, Ar-too-a, whose age was about thirty, gave him a long account
of the very serious wounds received by Ou-lig-buck, one of Dr. Rae's
interpreters. Ar-too-a's story, as found in Hall's journal of the day,
coi'responds closely with the record given by Rae himself of the acci-
dental wound and the healing of Ou-lig-'buck to be found on pages
95 and 96 of the Narrative of Rae's Expedition to the Arctic Seas in
1846-'47. Ar-too-a further said that he and his brothers Ou^e-la and
Shu-she-ark-nook had seen Rae on each of his expeditions of 1846 and
1854, and that "although Ou-lig-huck, father and son, and most of
the white men smoked. Dr. Rae never did." They all knew Rae's
" merry IvitchukP Hall was much gratified on receiving such details
of incidents which occurred nearly eighteen years previous.

The 15th was a day of gale from the north. The Welcome was
lashed into a fury, and the cold winds drove far inland everything

September, 1SU4.] Change of the Season. 67

like game, the hunting parties of the day failing to see a single living
thing — not even a partridge. The moon was full at B*"- 9"'- Greenwich
time. On the going down of the sea, Hall, with his new man Friday,
Ar-too-a^i and Ebierbing, went out in swift pursuit of an ook-gook (Phoca
harbata) which they had seen drifting down with the tide, and seem-
ingly asleep. The Syhaa had been gotten off the rocks by the help
of the women. But although the party approached the seal cautiously,
the noise of the oars awakened him, and he disappeared. The chief
Ou-e-la, with one of his wives and a daughter, had early gone off to
hunt; the man, gun in hand, carrying on his back a roll of reindeer-
furs, his dogs being heavily laden with the provisions and cooking
utensils placed on their backs saddle-bag fashion, as is the Innuit

Hall now experienced the beginning of a suffering like one on
his first Expedition — the breaking out of boils — brought about by the
change of food from the salt meats of ship-life to the raw or partially
boiled meats of the Eskimos. The rapid change of the season was also
sensibly felt. The nights began to be cold, ice formed on the fresh-
water lakes, and there were signs of an approaching snow-storm.
He determined to secure a less exposed place for the tupiks.

On the 18th, in company with Ar-too-a, Shoo-she-ark-nook, and
Ebierbing, he selected a location for himself and his friends on the east
aide of a low ridge of rocks, which would serve to shield them from
the cold west and northwest winds that would probably prevail for
many months to come. His journal says :

It has been moving-day with us, and an interesting picture might have been
seen; the Innuits and the two Kod-lu-nas, with packs on our backs, tramping
along toward our destined new home. Old Mother Ook-bar-loo had for her pack a
monstrous roll of reiadeer skins, which was topped with kettles and pans and


On the Move.

[Svpleiiibi-r, 1M64.

various little iustruments used by luuuits iu their domestic affairs, while in her
haud she carried spears aud iioles aud other tilings that need not be mentioned


here. Ar-too-a had for his pack his tent and pole, his gun and et ceteras in his
hands. His wife had for her pack a huge roll of reindeer-skins aud other things
nuicli (if lUe character of Ook-bar-loo's. The dogs had saddle-bags, and topi)ing

September, 1864.1 Reindeer Deposits Visited. 69

them were pannikins and such varied things as are always to be found in Innuit
use. Ebierbing had for his pack our tent and some five or six tent-poles, while
in his hands he carried his gun. Charley Eudolph had a large roll of reindeer-
skins, in his hands carrying numerous tent-poles. Too-koo-li-too had also deer-
skins, and in her hands various things. I carried on my shoulder two rifles and
one gun, each in covers ; under one arm my compass tripod, and in one hand my
little basket, which held my pet Ward chronometer, and in the other my trunk of

A snow-drift set in on the 20th, but during its continuance about
twenty bags of fire-shrub were gathered. It was not the usual Andro-
meda Tetragona, but something of like character, and was collected
for fuel and for a covering on the tupiks.

During the rest of the month a continuance of stormy weather
prevented astronomical observations The land began to look winter-
like. The tracks of a wolf were now first seen ; it had been busy
with the bear-skins which had been left to dry near the third encamp-
ment. The ground was already covered with snow to the depth of a
half inch ; the ice on the lakes bore the weight of a man, and the
heavy weather on the coast drove inland more of the game.

The Innuits, warned of the necessity for procuring winter clothing,
made a journey of five miles down the coast to their deposit of rein-
deer-skins. On their return, it was a matter of surprise to Hall to see
what heavy loads they were bearing on their backs, one of the
youngest of the men carrjang no less than 125 pounds, and Too-loo-
ar-a, one of Ou-e-laJs wives, 100. In binding their packs they passed
thongs around them, and these across their foreheads and breasts.
When appropriating these furs, on the following day, a gay and novel
scene presented itself The best skins being arranged in an outside
circle, the women were gallantly allowed each to make her selection
from these; the remainder of the one hundred and fifty skins being

70 Too Frequent Visits. (September, i864.

then chosen by the men from the inner circles. Several women
had young children at their backs. "The gilt bands on their heads,
the spiral tails hanging on each side of their broad faces, the boys and
girls at play, made altogether a fine subject for a picture." Oti-e-Ja,
speaking for his companions, had requested Hall to take out his
choice of furs, first of all.

The reindeer by this date had nearly all gone south, not to come
again till spring. Returning from a lonesome tramp, on which Hall
had made a discovery of wolf-tracks, he was visited by almost all of
the Innuits of the village, with their congratulations on his escape
from a seeming danger. Their visits were, however, fast becoming
so frequent and protracted as to give him much concern. Fully dis-
posed to do nothing but rest in the enjoyment of the fruits of their
summer labors, they did little else than visit and eat; "laying off
and eating, eating, eating." Lounging in Hall's tent the day long end
talking with Ebierbing and Too-koo-li-too, they became ''quite a
bore "; particularly as these talks were already bending Too-koo-li-
too's mind to an inconveniently slavish obedience to their customs
She gave the first proof of this by going off among the rocks to mend
her took-too stockings for fear of offending these natives by working at
all on took-too within a tent. It was only when all these Innuits had
retired to their several tupiks that Hall's company could have a full
meal. They must always share it with the unsophisticated children
of the North ; " such voracious eaters that they always get the lion's
share." The evening meal, however, usually consisted of but cold
rock-pemmican, tallow-candles, and degenerated meat, and even of this
Ebierbing and Too-koo-li-too were fortunate if they got half a dozen
mouthfuls before all was gone. In very pleasant contrast with this

itcptcnibcr, lii64.]

Winter Game.


is found an occasional note of the bringing- in by Rudolph of a fat
rabbit, in its winter garb, all white except the tips of its ears, ''jet
black ;" or of as many as eight or ten snow-partridges. Flocks of
these birds, in their winter dress, snow white, except their tail-feath-
ers, were found in numbers on the sea-shore, after each fall of snow.
In the depth of the winter they are scarcely distinguishable from the
snow at a distance of 10 feet.

PTAEMiGAN {Tetvao Lagojpus).

72 An Aurora. [sepicmb™-, ]sc4.

Hall's journal closes the month of September with an imagina-
tive comparison between the early snow-storms and Arctic aurora :

While out on a walk amid tlie suow-wtorm this p. m., I was struck with tho
similitude, in some respects, of the appearance of the snow, as it was swept along
by the winds over the glassy siirface of the new-made ice of the lakelets, to that
of the aurora in these regions when in its full play. I refer to certain x>G^'"^^li'>i'
movements of the one corresponding to the other. If I v>-ished a friend at home
to get a fair idea of the movements of the aurora here iu its general exhibitions,
I should say go out during the first severe snow-storm and get within sight of
some smooth ice covering some river, pond, or lake, and watch the snow as it is
driven along. Noav and then puffs of wind come sweeping along, so to speak,
rays or beams of snow that seem to play fantastically. Innumerable numbers
of these go to make up a most interesting scene. While the aurora, iu rays or
beams, shoots up vertically, and is of golden hue, and often of prismatic colors,
the snow is swept along horizontally, and is white, the same as the aurora iji
the sunlight. — White.

On the 5th of October, Joe brought to Hall some imtk-tuk, the
black skin of the whale, which was much relished ; but Plall ^vas still
suffering from boils on his eyelids. His whole jDart'y wfere s-icl?^ and
were confined to their tents for several days by a storm. On their
recovery, Ebierbing, assisted by Ou-e-la and Armou built for him a
large igloo near those which the Innuits had already erected for them-
selves. Hall's was built with much care, although it cost but two
hours' labor; he found it quite strong and comnK>dious. Its diam-
eter was 10 feet.

The construction of one of these snow-houses, built by the Innuits
of this region, is described by him substantially as follows :

After making trial of several banks of snow, by plunging in theii-
long knives, on finding the proper compactness, they cut blocks 2 to
2^ feet in length and about 18 inches in thickness. One set is cut
from the spot on which the igloo is to be built, its floor being thus

October, 1864.1 Igloo-BuMing. 73

sunken 18 inches below the general surface. In placing the blocks
around this excavation, of about 10 feet diameter, the first tier is
made up of those which, by increasing regularly in width, form a


spiral from right to left. They are laid from within, each being
secured by a bevel on the one last laid and another bevel on the next
one below. The joints are well broken. The blocks incline inwardly,
thus regularly diminishing the diameter of the igloo and fitting it for
the dome or keystone. Thirty-eight blocks were here used. For
ventilation, a small hole is usually made by the spear. The crevices
are well filled with snow within and without, making it nearly an
air-tight structure. For a window, a small opening cut in the dome
is filled in usually with a block of clear ice ; in some cases with the
scraped inner linings of the seal ; this last makes a light on which
the frost does not settle as upon the ice-blocks. The passage-way to
the igloo is always long and points toward the south. The Repulse
Bay natives shovel up much more snow upon the hut than the Green-
landers do. The igloo lamp is sometimes nothing more than a flat
stone, about 6 inches in length, placed in a niche cut out of the wall,
and having on it a little dry moss for a wick, which is supplied with
oil by a slice of blubber from the bear or the seal. A stone lamp of
better form, although poor enough, will give something of a fair light
and warmth.


HalVs Igloo.

[October, 1864.

The comforts within such buildings are of necessity very limited.
It is a matter of surprise that during the very many tedJOTS Arctic


hours spent within them by Hall he could bear with fortitude their
st evils ; and could, at the same time, write his notes with such


October, 1S61.] Winter Quarters. 75

fullness, study and correct typographical errors in his Bowditch, and
work up his observations. He often "wondered at the simplicity to
which the necessities of life may be reduced. His house was a


(Deposited hj Hall in tlie Smithsonian Institution ; the fracture mended by the natives, with
sinew. Dimensions : Length, 26 inches ; depth, 11^ inches to base of flange ; flange, 2J
inches thick, 2 inches high. )

building without a corner, without props or braces ; the wall, roof,
and door a unity, yet so strong as to defy the power of the fiercest
Arctic gales."

Hall was now fairly established in his winter quarters. His
instruments for making his observations were as yet unhurt. He had
no apprehensions as to a want of provision. The Sylvia and other
boats were safely housed. And it may not be a matter too trivial in
this case to be noticed that Ebierbing, by the use of scissors, 'plied the

Online LibraryCharles Francis HallNarrative of the second Arctic expedition made by Charles F. Hall: his voyage to Repulse Bay, sledge journeys to the Straits of Fury and Hecla and to King William's Land, and residence among the Eskimos during the years 1864-'69 → online text (page 10 of 57)