PASS CAPE NENNOKTOK. VISIT THE ESQUIMAUX FAMILIES AT KUMMAKTORVIK AND AMITOK. DESCRIPTION OF AN ESQUIMAUX TRAVELLING BED. MOUNTAINS SEEN AT UNGAVA. NETSEK SEAL DESCRIBED. GREENLAND HOUSES. DANGER OF BEING SHIPWRECKED NEAR KAKKEVIAK.
July 20th. We proceeded with little or no wind, and taking to our oars, doubled the great Cape of Nennoktok. Here a strong swell from the sea met us, and tossed our boat violently about, and, having no wind, it drove us nearer to the shore than was perfectly safe. We remained about an hour in this unpleasant situation, when a breeze sprung up, which carried us out to the open sea among islands. It now began to rain very hard, and the wind rose. While Brother Kmoch was assisting the people on deck, Brother Kohlmeister had enough to do below, to keep peace among the furniture of our cabin, and sometimes found himself defeated in his attempts, pots and pans, and boxes, and every thing that was not a fixture, tumbling upon him. Several of our people /34/ were in the skin- boat, and the fury of the wind and sea would not permit them to come to our assistance. The weather also became so thick and foggy between the islands, that we were unable to see any distance. Jonathan was therefore glad to have been yesterday on shore, when from the mountain he discovered the situation of the promontory, the coast, and the islands before us, and now contrived to steer in the proper direction. We soon found ourselves in smoother water, and among islands, where a vast number of seals and birds made their appearance. At six in the evening we reached KUMMAKTORVIK, and came to an anchor.
Having landed, Brother Kmoch shot a hare, close to the beach. These creatures are white in winter, and grey in summer, and in winter so numerous, that though, when roasted, they are excellent food, we were almost tired of them last year at Okkak.
The rain continuing during the whole of the night and forenoon of the 21st, we found it necessary by sufficient rest to strengthen ourselves for future watchfulness.
An Esquimaux travelling bed consists of a large bag of reindeer-skin, with the hair turned inward, covered with seal-skin, the hair turned outward. It is furnished with a broad flap to cover the mouth, and a strap to fasten down the flap. This bag comprehends the whole apparatus and furniture of an Esquimaux bed- room. Having undressed, the traveller creeps into it, and a kind neighbour having shut him up close by fastening the strap, he leaves him to sleep on till morning, when he helps him out again. In summer the flap is dispensed with. The invention, however, is of European origin, and a luxury introduced by the Missionaries; for an Esquimaux lies down in his clothes, without further preparation.
In the morning we landed, and had the usual Sunday's service with our people on shore; after which Brother Kohlmeister visited the Esquimaux in their tents, and had some /35/ religious conversation with them, to which they seemed to pay attention. Afterwards Kuttaktok, John, Nukkapiak, and Kajulik, with their wives, came to see us on board. They are the winter inhabitants of this bay. John was baptized in infancy at Okkak, but afterwards left the settlement, and not only associates with the heathen Esquimaux, but has even been guilty of murder. All of them, however, come occasionally to Okkak. They had two tents about four miles from our landing-place.
22d. The contrary wind forbidding our departure, Brother Kohlmeister, accompanied by Jonathan, Jonas, and Thukkekina, walked across the country to the N.W. bay, to return their visit. When they saw them coming at a distance, they fired their pieces, to direct them to the tents, and came joyfully to meet the Missionary and his party. Nothing could exceed the cordiality with which they received them. A kettle was immediately put on the fire to cook salmon-trout, and all were invited to partake, which was the more readily accepted, as the length of the walk had created an appetite, the keenness of which overcame all squeamishness. To do these people justice, their kettle was rather cleaner than usual, the dogs having licked it well, and the fish were fresh and well dressed. To honour the Missionary, a box was placed for him to sit upon, and the fish were served up to each upon a flat stone instead of a plate. After dinner, Brother Kohlmeister, in acknowledgement for their civility, gave to each of the women two needles, and a small portion of tobacco to each man, with which they were highly delighted.
All of them being seated, a very lively and unreserved conversation took place concerning the only way of salvation, through Jesus Christ, and the necessity of conversion. With John and his mother Mary, Brother Kohlmeister spoke very seriously, and represented to them the danger of their state, as apostates from the faith; but they seemed blinded /36/ by Satan, and determined to persist in their heathenish life. The Esquimaux now offered to convey the party across the bay in their skin-boat, which was accepted. Almost all of them accompanied the boat, and met with a very friendly reception from our boat's company. In the evening, after some hymns had been sung by our people, Jonas addressed them and the heathen Esquimaux in a short, nervous discourse, on the blessedness of being reconciled unto God.
Kummaktorvik bay runs N.E. and S.W. and is defended by some islands from the sea. It is about four or five miles long, and surrounded by high mountains, with some pleasant plains at their foot, covered with verdure. Its distance from Nachvak is about twelve miles. This chain of mountains, as will be hereafter mentioned, may be seen from Kangertlualuksoak, in Ungava Bay, which is a collateral proof, that the neck of land, terminated to the N. by Cape Chudleigh, is of no great width. Both the Nain and Okkak Esquimaux frequently penetrate far enough inland to find the rivers taking a westerly direction, consequently towards the Ungava country. They even now and then have reached the woods skirting the estuaries of George and South rivers.
23d. We set sail at sun-rise, but the wind being too high to suffer us to proceed with safety, we again anchored in a commodious harbour in AMITOK island. Our people were here busily employed in repairing the damaged rigging and sails. Towards evening Jonas caught a seal, to the great gratification of our party. It was dressed immediately, and we joined them in their repast with a good appetite.
The NETSEK is the only species of seal which remains during the winter under the ice. They form in it large caverns, in which they bring forth their young, two at a time, in March. More than one cavern belongs to one seal, that he may, if disturbed in the first, take shelter in the second. No other kind of seal is caught in winter by the Esquimaux.
/37/ 24th. Brother Kmoch rose at two, and went on shore to examine the island more minutely. The morning was beautiful, and the sun rose with great splendour. AMITOK lies N.W. from Kummaktorvik, is of an oblong shape, and stretches out pretty far towards the sea. The hills are of moderate height, the land is in many places flat, but in general destitute of grass. On the other side are some ruins of Greenland houses.
The Esquimaux have a tradition, that the Greenlanders came originally from Canada, and settled on the outermost islands of this coast, but never penetrated into the country, before they were driven eastward to Greenland. This report gains some credit, from the state in which the abovementioned ruins are found. They consist in remains of walls and graves, with a low stone enclosure round the tomb, covered with a slab of the same material. They have been discovered on islands near Nain, and though sparingly, all along the whole eastern coast, but we saw none in Ungava bay. The rocks on Amitok contain large masses of a crumbly, semi- transparent garnet, of a reddish hue. (From some specimens sent out, it rather appears to be a rose-red quartz, or beryllite).
As it appeared as if we should be detained here, Brother Kmoch had made a fire, and was leisurely cooking a savoury mess of birds for breakfast, when Jonathan returned from the hills, with intelligence that the wind was abating in violence, and he therefore would proceed. The tent was struck, and all hurried on board: yet we had long to combat both an unfavourable wind and a strong current, which compelled us to double the East point of the island, and seek shelter among some small islands, steering for NIAKUNGU point. From hence we got the first sight of TIKKERARSUK, (the Esquimaux name for a low point stretching from the continent into the sea), of the island AULATZEVIK, and the high promontory of KAKKEVIAK. The whole country to /38/ the west of NIAKUNGU is called SERLIARUTSIT. It fell calm as we doubled the point, and we took to our oars, and came to an anchor in an open bay, south of Tikkerarsuk.
25th. At 6 P.M. we got under weigh with a fine S.E. wind, and made for the island of AULATZEVIK, which is about the same size as an island of the same name, near Kiglapeyd. The passage between the island and the main is too shallow for an European boat like ours. The wind rising we sailed towards Kakkeviak at a great rate. To the right lay a chain of small islands called by the Esquimaux Pikkiulits, (the habitation of young eider-ducks). Having nearly doubled KAKKEVIAK cape, we perceived two tents on shore, which occasioned loud rejoicings on board. They belonged to KUMIGANNA of SAEGLEK, with his party, who being bound to Killinek, had promised to accompany us thither. The wind was very high, and the Cape encircled with numerous visible and invisible rocks, but there was a clear passage to the shore, keeping outside of the breakers. But whether from the violence of the wind, or from the eagerness with which our trusty captain wished soon to join his countrymen, he steered right through the midst of them, when suddenly the boat struck with great violence upon a sunken rock. The shock was so great, that all on board were thrown down, and every thing tumbled about. Poor Agnes, Jonas's wife, got a severe wound in her head. We immediately took in all our sails, and after hard labour, succeeded in pushing the boat off the rock. On examination we found that all was safe, and thanked God, with hearts filled with humble acknowledgements of His mercy, for preserving us from danger and death. The boat had struck in such a manner, that the keel, which was new and strong, being constructed of one solid piece of timber, sustained the whole shock. Had she taken the rock with her bottom, she would most likely have bilged, or upset, and it is a great question, whether our lives, but particularly the lives of the /39/ little children, could have been saved, the sea running very high. The skin-boat was thrown right over the rocks on shore, by the violence of the surf.
Kumiganna soon came off in his kayak, and advised us to steer for the land right before us, where he thought we should find UTTAKIYOK; nor was there any safe anchorage in this place. We therefore took a young Esquimaux on board as pilot, and steered between the main land and the islands, for OPPERNAVIK, twenty English miles off. Having left the skin-boat to follow us, we cut swiftly through the water, and soon reached the place of our destination.