The Book of Wisdom for Eskimo

The Book of Wisdom for Eskimo was first published in 1947. Demand must have been overwhelming, because a second version, with added Inuinnaqtun trans­lation, came out in 1949.

Recurring, overarching, forever unanswerable question: Did any human being, anywhere on earth, in or out of Canada, sincerely believe that the Inuit did not know and needed to be taught the information that makes up the bulk of the book? “A new baby cannot talk, so it cries.” “If you continue to kill cows and the young ones there will soon be no walrus.” “Fish is good food.”


The Book of Wisdom came out under the auspices of the Depart­ment of Mines and Resources, whose responsi­bilities conveniently included the government of the Northwest and Yukon Territories. The 1947 version credits two people—Samuel G. Ford, translator, and Betty Kosior, illustrator—leaving any and all authors unnamed.

Library catalogs eventually decided that the author was Cyril Wingnek, a name that does not appear anywhere in the 1947 edition. As it turns out, this is because he had nothing to do with it. He is only respon­sible for the 1949 Inuin­naqtun—a fact which must come as a great relief to his descen­dants, still living in the Cambridge Bay area.

So far, I haven’t been able to find out anything whatsoever about Betty Kosior. It seems safe to say that she was not a professional illustrator, just a govern­ment employee who knew how to operate a pencil. Her drawings suggest that she had heard of the Inuit but had never actually met one—and had definitely never seen an igloo.

Although Sam Ford (d. 1950) is the only named translator, he bears only half the blame. He wrote out his translation in Roman and handed off to the wholly uncredited Alex Stevenson, who did his best with the syllabics. This explains much.


The original was printed with English and Inuktitut on facing pages. I’ve largely left out the syllabics except for headings and figure captions. Blame my OCR software; I hadn’t the energy to type it all in.

Syllabics were hand-lettered using a minimalist orthography. The ᒐ series does double duty for ᕋ; the ᖓ series doesn’t seem to exist at all; the ᖃ series is simpli­fied to ᑲ, and hence ᖅ to ᒃ. There are not as many ᒃ as you would expect, though, because syllable-final consonants are never shown at mid-word, and only occa­sionally when word-final. Long vowels are never marked. So we get ᐊᓇᓇ for ᐊᓈᓇ, ᓄᑕᒐᒃ for ᓄᑕᕋᖅ, ᐊᓇᒃ for ᐊᕐᓇᖅ, ᑲᓄ for ᖃᓄᖅ.

Letters and letterforms are shown as printed, except that final -t has its now-standard form of ᑦ; in the book, it was drawn opening downward. The occasional unexpected letters like ᑌ or ᐯ are in the original. So are word-final ᐞ (now used for the glottal stop) where you might expect ᓐ or ᑦ.

Errors and Typography

The original was a combination of typescript and handwriting. Any text formatting, such as changes in size or spacing, is therefore mine. Most illus­trations were printed at the bottom of the Inuktitut pages; I have moved a few of them to mid-page to agree with section breaks.

Typographical errors are marked with mouse-hover popups and are listed again at the bottom of the page. The word “conjectural” means that the end of a line got lost, so I’ve taken my best guess about punctuation.


ᑎᑎᑐᔭᓯᒪᔪ ᑲᔨᒪᓇᑐ
ᐃᓄᑎᑐ ᐅᑲᓯᒪᔪ


Translations by Samuel G. Ford
Sketches by Betty Kosior


Issued by the

three children in Inuit clothes, playing in the snow

ᑯᕕᐊᓱᑐ ᓄᑕᑲᐞ

ᑎᑎᑐᔭᓯᒪᔪ ᑲᔨᒪᓇᑐ

ᓯᕗᓕ I

(Text supplied by the Department of National Health and Welfare)
ᑕᒪᑯᐊ ᑎᑎᑐᔭᓯᒪᔪ ᐱᕗ ᑯᕙᒪᑎᒥ ᐃᓄᐃ ᑲᓂᒪᓂᒋᒪᑕ ᐊᑎᓗ ᐃᓄᐃ ᑲᓂᒪᑌᓕᔪᑎᓴᒋᓂ

Where Sickness Comes From ᐊᓂᐊᓂ ᓇᑭᐱᕙᐸ 2
How Sickness Spreads ᑲᓄ ᐊᓂᐊᓂ ᐱᕙᓕᐊᓱᒍᕙ 3
The Clean Camp ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᑐᐱᒃ 4
The Clean Igloo ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᐃᓗᕕᒐᒃ 5
Clean Air ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᐊᓂᓂᒃ 6
Clean Water ᑲᑭᐊᑐᒃ ᐃᒪᒃ 7
Clean Pots and Dishes ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᐅᑯᓯᐞ ᐳᒍᑕᓗ 8
Clean Food ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᓂᑭ 8
A Clean Body ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᑎᒥᕗ 9
Taking Care of Sick People ᑲᓂᒪᔪᓂ ᐯᒋᔪ ᑲᒪᔨ 10
Before Baby Comes ᓄᑕᒐᑯᓗ ᐃᓄᑲᑎᓇᒍ 11
Care of New Baby ᑲᓄᐱᔭᒋᐊᑲᑲ ᐃᓄᓕᓴᑐ 11
Feeding a New Baby ᓂᒋᑎᒋᐊᒐ ᓄᑕᒐᑯᓗ 12
Crying in New Baby ᓄᑕᒐᑯᓗ ᑭᐊᓕᒐᒥ 13
Sick Baby ᓄᑕᒐᑯᓗ ᑲᓂᒪᔨ 13
Care of Sick Baby ᐯᒋᔨ ᓄᑕᒐᒥ ᑲᓂᒪᔪᒥ 14
Lung Sickness ᐳᕙᓗᑐ ᐊᓂᐊᔪ 15
What To Do When Frozen ᑲᐊᑐᑲᐸ ᑲᓄᐱᔭᒋᐊᓕ 18

ᒪᑯ II

(Text Prepared in Bureau of Northwest Territories and Yukon Affairs)
ᑕᒪᑯᐊ ᑎᑎᑐᔭᓯᒪᔪ ᓴᓇᓯᒪᔪ ᓄᓇᓯᓂ ᐃᓚᒐᓂ

Family Allowances ᑭᓇᔭᑕᐸᑐ ᓄᑕᑲ ᓄᑕᑲ ᐃᑲᔪᑕᔪ 19
Care of Rifles ᑯᑭᐅᑎ ᑲᒪᒋᓯᒋᐊᓕ 21
Care of Boats ᐅᒥᐊᓗ ᑲᒪᒋᓯᒋᐊᓕ 22
Conservation of Game ᑐᑯᓯᑌᓕᒋᓯ ᐅᒪᔪᓂ ᐃᓱᒪᒋᓯᓗᒋ 23
Planning for Periods of Scarcity ᐃᓱᒪᔪᓴᕗᓯᓱᑐᐃᓂ ᐱᑕᒐᒋᑎᓗᒍ 27
To All Mothers With Small Children ᐊᓇᓇᓕᒪᓄ ᒥᑭᔪᓂ ᑭᑐᒐᑲᑐ 28

ᒪᑯᐊ ᑎᑎᑲ ᐅᑲᓯ ᑲᔨᒪᓕᒋᓯᐅᒡ

The first part of this book is about how to be healthy and happy. When we have good food, warm clothes, good kind friends and no sickness we are happy.

When someone is sick in the family we cannot be happy. Everyone is sad. If we learn what causes sickness then we can try to stop sickness. In this book you will read a lot about what makes us sick, how the sickness spreads from person to person and from camp to camp, and how to stop this.

You will read about why babies have sickness and are not strong. You will read about lung sickness and how to keep from it. All you read in this book is true.

The second part contains advice about how to be prosperous, how the King is helping Eskimo children, how to make your rifles and boats last a long time, how to save the food animals from becoming scarce, and how to plan for times of scarcity.

smiling young woman in a hood

ᐊᓇᒃ ᐅᕕᑲ ᑯᕕᐊᓱᑐ


ᓯᕗᓕ I

ᐊᓂᐊᓂ ᓇᑭᑦ ᐱᕙᐸ

Not long ago a lot of people got sick in the same camp. They all had the same sickness. They had lots of good food. They had a good camp. They were very happy before the sickness came. Then one young man got sick. Everyone liked him and they were sorry. Everyone went to see the sick young man. In a few days a lot of the people were sick. All had the same sickness as the young man. It was not a happy camp now. They asked for the government Doctor to come and help them. When the Doctor came he found a lot of very sick people, children, young men and women and old people. He did all he could to help. He kept the people that were not sick away from the sick. He taught a few women who were not sick how to nurse the sick and not get the sickness themselves. No more people got the sickness. All the sickness had come from the young man who first had it. We know what the Doctor did to stop the sickness spreading. Let us learn why he did this. Then we can all help to stop sickness from spreading.

man lying on shelf of igloo with woman sitting beside him

ᐊᒍᑎ ᐅᕕᑲ ᑲᓂᒪᔪ


ᑲᓄ ᐊᓂᐊᓂ ᐱᕙᓕᐊᓱᒍᕙ?

Sickness that can be passed from one person to the other is caused by very small germs.

All germs are not the same.

They do not all make the same sickness.

There is a different kind of germ for a different sickness.

Germs are very small. So small that we can only see them with very strong glasses.

A lot of them together look like a small speck.

They live best in a warm, wet place.

They like the dark, dirty places.

A few germs become a lot in a short time.

They grow well in the mouth, nose, and throat.

They grow well in our bodies.

They like meat and fish.

They grow well on our dirty bodies and on dirty clothes.

A clean body is a poor home for germs.

When we cough and sneeze the germs are in the little drops of water we make.

In spit there are too many to think of.

They get in the air and on our hands and clothes.

You see how easy it is to pass germs from one person to another.

face of young man with European haircut

ᐅᕕᑲ ᐊᒍᑎ ᑲᓂᒪᒋᑐ


ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᑐᐱᒃ

The waste from our bodies is full of germs that cause sickness. The waste from the bodies of sick people will give others the same sickness. This waste must be put where people cannot get near it.

Dogs will carry the waste to people.

Flies will carry the waste to people.

This is the way sickness is spread so much.

A clean camp is a safe camp.

When a new camp is made one person must be the camp boss.

His job is to see that all waste is put where dogs, flies, and children cannot get near it.

A good camp boss will stop a lot of sickness.

The spit from a sick person will spread sickness.

No one must spit in the Igloo.

Always spit in a can or cup or rag and empty in a safe place or burn it.

Boiling water will kill gems that cause sickness.

A good camp boss will help to stop sickness.

A dirty camp will always have someone sick. Soon all are sick.

two tents

ᑐᐱᒃ ᓴᓗᒪᔪ


ᐃᓗᕕᒐᒃ ᓴᓗᒪᔪ

Sickness and dirt are partners. The small germs that cause sickness live and grow in warm, dirty, dark places. These germs are too small for us to see unless we have very special glasses. A few become many very soon. They get on our hands and clothes. They get on our food. They get in the mouth and into our bodies.

Then we get sick.

Small children get very sick very quickly.

These germs are like poison.

The strong sunlight kills these germs.

Fire kills them and boiling water kills them.

Soap and water will kill them on the body and clothes.

These germs do not like clean people with clean bodies, clean clothes and clean igloos.

A person with these germs on the body or in the body will pass them on to someone else.

Everything that comes out of the body of a sick person will spread the germs.

Do not live all winter in the same igloo, but every so often build a clean, new one.

Every so often during the summer move your tents to clean, new sites.

two igloos without entranceway

ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᐃᓗᕕᒐᒃ


ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᐊᓂᓂᒃ

When we breathe we take air into our bodies and let it out again.

The more we work the more we want air.

If we cannot breathe we die for want of air.

The air we breathe out is bad air.

It is full of germs and poison.

A sick person breathes out a lot of poison air.

In an Igloo with poison air all will get the same sickness.

New, fresh air from outside must be let in the Igloo. A little air all the time.

Growing children need lots of good air.

If we keep fresh air in the Igloo it will help us keep well.

This is an easy way to keep well.

man in a kayak

ᓯᓚᒥ ᓯᓚᑭᑎᓗᒍ


ᑲᑭᐊᑐᒃ ᐃᒪᒃ

Germs that cause sickness can live in water.

How the water looks does not tell.

We cannot see the germs.

We can see dirt.

How water tastes does not tell.

We cannot taste germs.

Clean ice and snow is safe.

Big rivers and lakes are safe.

Small rivers and small ponds are not safe.

Boiled water is safe.

Tea is safe.

Dogs carry germs to small lakes and small rivers.

Keep dogs and children away from summer water.

This is work for the camp boss.

All body waste must be kept away from summer water.

When not sure boil all water.

sitting dog

ᑭᐃᒥᐞ ᐃᒥᑕᐅᑲᑕᑐᒥᑌᓕᓕᑦ


ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᐅᑯᓯᐃ ᐳᒍᑕᓗ ᑎᑐᑎᓗ

Sickness is carried by the dishes we cook with and eat from.

Dirty dishes start sickness.

All the family can get bad sickness from dirty dishes.

Dirty dishes make food a poison.

All dishes must be very clean.

Hot water and soap will keep dishes clean.

covered dish, open bowl, covered saucepan, teacup in saucer

ᐅᑯᓯᐞ ᐳᒍᑌᓗ ᓴᓗᒪᓭᓇᓕᑦ

ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᓂᑭ

The things we eat must be kept clean.

Dirty meat will make us sick.

Meat that is not frozen will get bad and make us sick.

Fresh meat must be kept away from flies.

Flies carry germs that make us sick.

In warm days fresh food and cooked food must be well covered.

Every year people get sick and die from eating poison meat and fish.

It is very bad for small children.

Dogs carry germs that can make people sick.

Dogs must not get near our dishes and what we will eat.

We should always wash our hands before eating.

The waste matter from our bodies is full of germs.

If this is carried to our food or dishes by dogs, flies or dirty hands, we will get sick.


ᓴᓗᒪᔪ ᑎᒥᕗ

Our skin is full of very small holes, too small to see without special glasses.

We sweat through these holes.

When we sweat we get rid of poison.

Our skin breathes through the small holes.

When our skin is dirty the holes are full and the poison cannot get out.

Then we get sick.

Lice like dirty skin.

Sores come on dirty skin.

Soap and water will keep the skin clean. Then we do not get skin trouble.

Sickness does not come on clean skin.

If we keep our skin clean it will help us keep well.

Germs that make people sick live on dirty skin.

Keep clean.

young woman with braids

ᐅᕕᑲ ᐊᓇᒃ


ᑲᓂᒪᔪᓂ ᐯᐃᒋᔪᑦ ᑲᒪᔨ

Sick people spread the germs that made them sick.

The person taking care of someone who is sick must be very careful or she will get the same sickness.

Do not touch the sick person or their clothes unless you have to.

Do not let anyone sleep with them.

Wash the hands well after touching them.

All waste coming from a sick person can spread the germs. They are in the spit.

See that all this is put where other people and dogs cannot get near.

Dogs can spread the germs so keep dogs away from the sick.

Dishes touched by sick people must be washed alone.

Meat or any food touched by sick people can spread the sickness.

Remember germs that make us sick are too small to see.

So keep our bodies clean, keep our clothes clean, keep our igloos clean and keep the camp clean.

Sunshine, water, soap, fresh air and heat are enemies of germs.

boiling kettle and bar of soap

ᐅᕙᐅᑎᓗ ᐃᒥᓗ ᐅᓇᑐᒃ


ᓄᑕᒐᑯᓗ ᐃᓄᑲᑎᓇᒍ

Mother must be strong.

She must eat a lot.

She must rest a lot.

She must not go near sick people.

Sick mother will make a weak baby.

Strong mothers have strong babies.

Weak babies do not nurse well.

They do not sleep well.

They soon get sick.

Sick babies do not grow.

It is hard to raise a sick baby.

ᑲᓄ ᐱᔭᒋᐊᒐᑲ ᐃᓄᓕᓴᑐ

Feed new baby regularly.

A new baby sleeps a lot.

Baby must be kept clean and dry.

Baby will cry when wet and dirty.

Keep baby warm when sleeping.

If baby is hungry between feedings, give some clean water.

If baby feeds too fast, it will get pain.

Baby must have plenty of sleep and food, or it will get sick.

woman in plaid dress with wrinkled infant

ᐊᓇᓇᓗ ᒋᑐᒐᓂᓗ


ᓂᒋᑎᒋᐊᒐ ᓄᑕᒐᑯᓗᑦ ᐃᓄᓕᓴᑐ

Mother’s milk is best for baby.

Mother’s nipples must be clean.

Mother must eat lots of good food, long before baby comes.

Good food and lots of water for the mother makes rich milk.

A new baby should be nursed every 3 hours for the first month.

After one month, nurse every 4 hours, for five feedings each day.

Clean water should be given between feedings.

Baby must not be nursed between feedings.

Too much milk will make baby sick.

Baby’s stomach needs rest.

When four months old give baby solid food with a spoon, before nursing, morning and evening.

If mother does not have enough milk for baby, give dried powdered milk mixed with clean water. Add a little sugar (one small spoon).

If baby “throws up”, it is getting too much milk, or the milk is too strong.

Baby must eat regularly to grow big and strong.

Too much milk makes baby’s bowels loose.

baby in bed

ᓄᑕᒐ ᐃᓄᓴᑐᒃ


ᓄᑕᒐᑯᓗ ᑭᐊᓕᒐᒥ

A new baby cannot talk, so it cries.

A baby cries when it is hungry.

A baby cries when it is thirsty.

A baby cries when it is wet.

A baby cries when it is dirty.

A baby cries when it is cold.

A baby cries if it has a stomach pain.

A baby cries if it does not get enough sleep.

A baby will cry if frightened by noises.

A baby will cry if the mother moves it too fast.

If a baby thinks it is falling, it will cry.

A sick baby cries a lot.

A baby cries if it is lonesome.

crying baby, facing forward

ᓄᑕᒐᒃ ᑭᐊᕙᑐ

ᓄᑕᒐᑯᓗ ᑲᓂᒪᔪ ᐊᓂᐊᔪ

A sick baby will not eat well.

A sick baby does much crying.

A sick baby has a quiet cry, except when in pain.

A sick baby does not sleep well.


ᐯᒋᔪ ᒥᐊᓂᓯᔪ ᓄᑕᑲᒥ ᑲᓇᒪᔪᒥ

A sick baby must be kept warm.

Give small amounts of clean water or weak tea often during the day.

Most sick babies do not eat well, therefore give nursing oftener and for shorter time.

If sick baby “throws up” milk, give a little weak tea many times during the day.

When “throwing up” stops, then start nursing again.

As baby gets better, nurse it for full time regularly.

Keep sick baby quiet.

Fussing with sick baby makes it worse.

woman sitting outdoors with baby in her lap

ᓄᑕᒐᒥᓂ ᑲᓂᒪᔪᒥ ᐯᐃᒋᔪ


ᐳᕙᓗᑐ ᐊᓂᐊᔪ

Lung sickness is everywhere.

It goes from person to person.

Everyone can get it.

A person with lung sickness gives out the germ when he coughs or sneezes or breathes heavy.

It is in the spit.

It is on the lips and hands, and clothes.

One person with lung sickness can give the same sickness to everyone in the igloo.

New babies get lung sickness very easy.

The young baby will get it from mother if mother has lung sickness.

A mother with this sickness must not nurse the baby. The baby must not be near the sick mother.

Some other mother with milk must feed the baby.

If a mother with lung sickness nurses the baby the mother will get worse.

Lung sickness is slow working.

At first the person does not feel sick.

There is a little cough that does not get better.

You do not feel like eating.

You get tired easy.

You feel lazy.

Slowly the cough grows worse.

You sweat easy and even sweat in bed.

You get thin slowly.

woman washing in a stream

ᐊᓄᒐᓯ ᐃᒥᒐᑕᓗᒋ ᐱᔪᓇᑐᐊᒍᓯ


As the cough gets worse you have more and more spit.

The spit may have some blood.

The spit is full of germs of lung sickness. Now anyone will catch the sickness. A person with lung sickness now must be kept away from everyone. Only one person must take care of him.

What must a person that may have early lung sickness do?

Right away he should go to the doctor or nurse.

Then he must do what he is told.

People with early lung sickness get better in a hospital.

Then they cannot spread the sickness to other people.

What must a person do who has lived with a lung sick person?

Right away he should go to the doctor or nurse.

The doctor can tell who has the early start of lung sickness.

He will tell you what you must do.

People with early lung sickness can get better. They must obey the doctor.

male doctor and female nurse tending to Inuit child

ᑕᑕᓗ ᐯᐃᒋᔨᓗ ᐃᑲᔪᑎᐅᕗ ᑲᓂᒪᔪᓄ

Lung sickness can move from the lungs to anywhere in the body.

It spreads to the bones often.

It spreads to the kidneys and bladder.

It spreads to the brain.

It is a slow disease and hard to stop unless caught early.

Young men and young women get it often. They spread it often.


A young woman with lung sickness must not marry.

When she has a baby she will get worse and die.

The new baby will get the same sickness.

Lung sickness will be no more when we all do our best to stop it.

It is our big enemy.

man with sunken cheeks, looking just like the adjoining picture

ᐊᒍᑎ ᓴᓗᐊᓗ ᑲᓂᒪᔪᒃ

man with covered head, looking just like the adjoining picture

ᐊᒍᑎ ᓱᒍᔪ ᑲᓂᒪᒋᑐ


ᑲᐅᑐᑲᐸ ᑲᓄ ᐱᔭᒋᐊᓕ

If face, nose or ears get frozen do not rub. That will make it worse. At first sign of freezing cover the part and leave alone.

When feet and hands are clean and dry they are hard to freeze.

So keep feet and hands clean in cold weather.

Keep socks and mitts clean and dry.

If feet get wet change to dry socks at once. Do not wait for a warm place to change.

If you do freeze your feet put them in cold water until the frost is gone. Do not rub.

Make sure frozen part is clean.

Boil seal oil and let it get cold.

Boil thin cloth (cotton).

Soak the cold cloth in the seal oil and wrap the foot. Keep the covering loose.

Be sure that only very clean hands are used to dress the frozen foot.

Change dressing every day.

If frozen badly, get to the doctor or nurse as soon as you can.

two igloos without entranceway, up against miniature mountains



ᒪᑯ II

(Helping Eskimo Children)
ᑭᓇᐅᔭᑕᐸᑐ ᓄᑕᑲᑦ
ᓄᑕᑲ ᐃᑲᔪᑕᐅᔪ

The King is helping all the children in his lands. He is giving aid to the Eskimo children also and has instructed His servants the Police to proceed in this way.

All parents and foster parents must register with the Police all children up to sixteen years old giving their names, identification numbers, ages and relationship to the head of the household such as son, daughter, adopted, etc. The Police will then arrange that every child will receive help from the trader when it is needed.

In the past you have had years of scarcity and this has caused much hunger and sickness to the children. Now the King is giving a monthly allowance to each child under 16 years old. But this is to be controlled and only when in real need must an Eskimo mother or father ask to draw this allowance to help their children. If you have a good year of hunting and trapping you will not need the allowance that year and it will be saved for you and issued only when there is a dire need for it. When you do not use all the allowance it will be saved for the child who will receive it at the age of 16 years.

Mountie in hat, striding to the right

ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐃᑲᔪᑎᒐ


The traders are working with the Police to help you and your family, and the King has instructed them to issue goods only when it is necessary. He does not wish you to become lazy and expect to receive goods any time. You are to continue to work hard at hunting and trapping, teaching your children to be good hunters and workers.

When the foxes are scarce and you are unable to obtain food, clothing and other things for your children, the King will pay the trader to give you these things for your children. You must work hard to get foxes and food for your family and the King will help you in times of scarcity. In this way Eskimo families will be prosperous, their children will be healthy and everyone will be happy.

Every Eskimo should have a disc bearing his identification number. Do not lose your disc. You will need it to obtain the King’s help.

Inuit couple at shop counter

ᐃᓄᐃ ᑭᑐᒐᒋᑦ ᑭᓇᔭᑕᕙᑐ ᓄᑕᒐᓄ ᐊᑲᐅᕗ


ᑯᑭᐅᑎ ᑲᒪᒋᓯ ᓗᒋ

In the old days your fathers used the harpoon, bird darts and bow and arrow when they hunted game. Then the white man brought you the rifle. Today very few of you could hunt the caribou, walrus, white whale and square flipper without the rifle.

You trap foxes which you trade for rifles and other things made by the white man. It takes many foxes to purchase a rifle and yet some of you are very careless and do not take care of your rifle. Soon it is useless and you must trade more foxes to secure a new rifle. When you use your fox skins to buy a new rifle you have less with which to buy other things which you need.

How much better it is to take good care of your rifle so it will last a long time. Then you will be able to use foxes for the other things which you need and will not go hungry and cold when the foxes are scarce.

Always carry your rifle in a sealskin bag so it is protected from the rain and snow.

Do not throw it roughly on the ground or in a boat.

Clean your rifle after each time you use it.

Keep your rifle clean and dry, aim it straight and if you hunt patiently you will not lack food.

Ammunition is expensive, do not waste it. Why use many cartridges when one well aimed shot will do? When you waste cartridges you waste foxes which you could trade for white man’s food and other things you need.

Take good care of your rifle;

Aim carefully when you shoot;

Do not waste cartridges;

Then you will not go hungry.


ᑯᑭᐅᑎ ᑲᒪᒋᓯᐊᓯᒪᔪ


ᐅᒥᐊᓯ ᑲᒪᒋᓯᐊᒋᐊᓕ

In the years when the foxes are plentiful some of the Innuit trade many foxes for boats. It takes many foxes to secure a white man’s boat. Take good care of it so it will last a long time.

Do not drag it over rocks which will break the bottom.

Be sure you have a safe anchorage so the boat will not be broken or carried away by the wind.

Keep the boat well painted and the seams caulked so it will not leak.

If you do these things your boat will last a long time for hunting seal, walrus, and whale. You will be able to use your foxes to obtain other things you need from the trader and you will not go hungry.

two small European boats with mast

ᐅᒥᐊᓗ ᑲᒪᒋᓯᐊᒋᐊᑲᒥᔪ


ᑐᑯᓯᓗᐊᑌᓕᕙᒋᓯ ᐅᒪᔪᓂ ᐃᓱᒪᒋᓗᒋ

You must have food. You must have clothing. You must have dog food. You must have foxes with which to trade.

Hear then words of wisdom showing how you may always have a good supply of these things.

In the old days your fathers used the harpoon, spear, and bow and arrow when they hunted game. They worked hard and with great skill and were usually able to get enough animals to meet their needs. They never killed more animals than they needed and did not wound them with rifles and allow them to escape to die. There were always plentiful supplies of caribou, seal, walrus, and whale.

Then the white man brought you the rifle which enabled you to secure your food with greater ease than your fathers did. But you did not use the rifle wisely. You killed the caribou in much greater numbers than you needed, often leaving them on the ground to rot. You shot the walrus and allowed him to sink. You also wasted many seals in the same way. Today there are many areas where no caribou can be found and the walrus too have disappeared from many parts.

two figures in a small boat, seen in the distance


How to Save the Animals
ᐃᒪᑕᕙ ᐱᔭᒋᒐᐳᓯ ᐅᒪᔪᓄ


Never kill more caribou than you can use before the meat spoils. Rotten caribou meat can bring sickness and death.

A wise hunter will always try to kill bulls and not cows. It is against the law to kill cows when the young are suckling them or to kill the young. If you save the cows and the young the caribou will increase in numbers.


In regions where caribou are scarce do not use the meat to feed dogs. Feed the dogs on fish and save the caribou for your own food and clothing. With good nets and with skill and patience you should be able to lay up supplies of fish as food for the dogs and yourself. If you dry the fish in the sun and, if possible, smoke it, it will not spoil.

head of caribou



In past times your fathers hunted the walrus with the harpoon and spear in a small boat. Not many walrus were lost and there were enough for everyone.

Today you hunt walrus in power boats with rifles and can follow them much more easily and safely than your fathers did. But you shoot many walrus which sink and are lost and sometimes when you get excited you wound many walrus which escape and die. Because of this waste the walrus are becoming fewer year by year.

Always harpoon the walrus with a float attached to the line before you shoot him. Then you will not lose him by sinking.

Do not kill cows or young walrus. If you continue to kill cows and the young ones there will soon be no walrus.

Do not kill more bulls than you can take home. Avoid waste.

If you follow this advice the walrus will not disappear but will increase in numbers to provide food for you and your dogs.

head of walrus, emerging from water



In some areas the seals too are becoming scarce. This is because:

Many are lost by sinking after they are shot.

Too many young ones are killed.

Too many seals are used to feed dogs.

How to save the seals:

Use the harpoon when possible to prevent loss from sinking.

Make greater use of seal nets.

Do not kill many “white coats”.

Use fish nets to obtain good supplies of fish for dog food.

Feed your dogs on fish and save the seals.

Do not keep more dogs than you need.


It is against the law to trap foxes during the breeding season or when the fur is not prime.

If a man traps foxes during the breeding season he stops the young foxes from being born and foxes become scarce.

If he traps foxes when the fur is not prime the trader will not accept them and the foxes are wasted.

It is necessary for every man to “strike up” his traps on the day appointed by law. If any man is in doubt about what day he must stop trapping let him ask the Police or the trader.

standing fox



Many Eskimo do not use enough fish.


Fish is excellent food for man and dogs.

You should lay up caches of fish for the hungry period.

You should obtain twine from the trader and learn from someone who knows how to make a net.

You should also learn how and where to set nets to get the best results.

Fish go up the rivers in the fall to winter in the inland lakes. They come down the rivers in the spring.

You can catch fish with nets at the times they are going up or down the rivers but you must never completely block a small river with your net or there will be no fish next year.

You can net fish in the sea in summer if you learn the right places to get them.

You can net fish under the ice in winter in the inland lakes.

Fish taken in warm weather must be split in two and dried on lines in the sun so it will not spoil.

If there are many flies the fish should be smoked in a tent before hanging outside to dry.

Fish is good food.

Learn to net fish.

Learn to dry it in warm weather so it will not spoil.

Put up good caches of fish for yourselves and your dogs.

In this way you will save the other food animals and you will never go hungry.

pile of fish with no visible scales

ᐃᑲᓗᐃ ᓂᑭᓯᐊᒍᕗᑦ


ᐃᓱᒪᔪᓴᕗᓯ ᓱᑐᐃᓀ ᐱᑕᑲᒋᑎᓗᒍ

Every Eskimo knows that there are some years when the foxes are scarce and other years when they are plentiful.

In the good years the trapper has many foxes to trade but in the poor years he may have very few or none.

In a good year the trapper should bring all the foxes he can get to the trader. He should buy only those things he needs and leave the rest of his foxes with the trader on credit. The trader will give him a paper showing how much his credit is. Then when the foxes are scarce and he cannot get enough, he can take the credit paper to the trader and buy with it the things he needs.

In this way the trapper will be able to secure supplies from the trader in the years when he has no foxes.

It is much better to have a credit with the trader to use in poor years than to go in debt to the trader.

Everyone knows that there are times during the winter when food is hard to get.

The wise Eskimo will store up in caches enough food to feed himself, his family and his dogs during the hungry period.

Work hard when the fish and game are plentiful to lay up a supply of food for the hungry period.

Inuk of indeterminate sex cleaning a fish

ᐃᓄ ᐃᓱᒪᑲᓯᑐ ᓂᒍᓕᕙᐳ ᐃᑲᓗᓂ ᐱᑕᑲᒋᓗᐊᑎᓗᒍ ᓂᑭᓴᒥᓂ


ᐊᓇᓇᓕᒪᓄ ᒥᑭᔪᓂ ᑭᑐᒐᑲᑐ

Our King has made a law that all mothers of children will get help in seeing that these children grow up to be strong and healthy.

One way this help will be given is by bringing to them good baby foods. All the traders will have these foods at the stores and will let you have them. These foods are for small children up to three years old.

These foods are like flour and will not get bad unless they get wet. Keep them dry. They do not need to be cooked. All that you need is clean water.

There are two foods. Dry Milk and Pablum.

Here is how to get them ready to eat.


Boil water and let cool

In a bowl put 1 cup of warm water

Add 1 dessert-spoon (2 small spoons) of dry milk

Beat well with whipper till all lumps are gone

This milk is a good drink.

ᓂᑭᓴᔭᐅᔭᑐ ᐳᓚᐅᒐᐅᔭᑐ ᐸᐊᓚ

In a bowl put one (1) cup of prepared milk.

Add 1 dessert-spoon (2 small spoons) of Pablum

Mix well by stirring.

This is good baby food.

items as described in caption, laid out at the edge of a table

ᐃᒧᒃ ᑯᒧᔪᒥᑐᒃ. ᐃᒍᓯᕕᒃ. ᒪᓇᓇᒃ ᓴᑲᓕᔪᑎ. ᐃᓯᕕᐊᐱᒃ
ᓴᓇᐅᒐᐅᔭᑐᒥ ᐃᓗᓕᓕᒃ. ᐃᒧᓗ ᓴᓇᐅᒐᐅᔨᑐᓗ ᓂᑭᓯᐊᒍᕗ ᓄᑕᑲᓄ

Notes and Corrections

[Contents] ᑭᓇᔭᑕᐸᑐ ᓄᑕᑲ ᓄᑕᑲ ᐃᑲᔪᑕᔪ
[Text unchanged; the duplication is probably an error.]

[1] how the King is helping Eskimo children
[In the course of the text, I count eight occurrences of the word “King”. It seems to have escaped the authors’ notice that the Inuit did not traditionally have a monarch, so the whole concept of benevolent paternalism would be meaning­less to the target audience.]

Part I

[4] When a new camp is made one person must be the camp boss.
[Option A: The Inuit already had the custom of a “camp boss”, a person in charge, making this sentence a waste of ink. Option B: Inuit culture did not recognize a “camp boss”, making the next few sentences useless.]

[9] Our skin is full of very small holes, too small
text has holes,too without space

[17] Lung sickness will be no more when we all do our best to stop it.
final . conjectural

Part II

This part will have much to say about foxes. In 1947, Canada was very big on Arctic fox pelts; it is taken for granted that you will hunt foxes alongside what­ever you take—fish, caribou, marine mammals—for your personal needs.

[19] The King . . . has instructed His servants
[Capitalization in the original. Possibly the authors had read that God is an Englishman, and got confused.]

relationship to the head of the household
[Anglophone governments love the “head of household” concept. Compare the assorted Oklahoma land grabs of the early-20th-century U.S., which had different rules for native and non-native people.]

[20] to help you and your family,
comma conjectural

[21] to buy other things which you need.
final . conjectural

[21] ᑯᑭᐅᑎ ᑲᒪᒋᓯ ᓗᒍ
spacing unchanged

[23] They . . . did not wound them with rifles and allow them to escape to die.
[This strikes me as a fairly ridiculous point, since traditional (non-firearm) weapons are more likely to wound without killing.]

[25 illustration] ᑎᒋᑲᓂ
[This is probably an error for ᑎᒋᒐᓂ (i.e. ᑎᕆᒐᓂ) as in the text. But if we start trying to fix the syllabics, we will be here all day.]

[27] Every Eskimo knows (ᑭᓇᑐᐃᓇ ᐃᓄᒃ ᑲᔨᒪᕗ)
[Refresh my memory. What was the purpose of this book again?]

[28] Add 1 dessert-spoon (2 small spoons) of dry milk
[It’s hard to pick among so many good choices, but this is my candidate for Most Witless Instruction. Perhaps I missed the page that lists the measuring implements every semi-nomadic household is expected to own.]

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.