Hunting Yesterday

by Arthur Munik

Arthur Munik is from Killinik (Port Burwell). He was born in Payne Bay 75 years ago on November 10th, 1902, disc number E8-245.

I am going to write some short stories that I can remember that used to be talked about. The way some people used to catch fox was by making a trap called an ulasautik. The very top of the trap is narrower than the bottom which looks like a small iglu on the bare rock. This trap is made from rocks piled against a small cliff so that the fox could fall into it faster. When it was finished, either snowy owl or seagull wings were used as baits which were tied together on a stick and securely placed over the top of the trap. These baits had to face a certain direction in which the wind was blowing so that the fox could easily get to the trap and fall in it.

The caribou also has always been sought. In those days the people hunted caribou with bows and arrows. A group of people would walk together and when they spotted some caribou that were grazing one person from the group would walk closer to the herd.  He would then raise his arms to make himself look like a caribou using his arms as antlers. He had to do this very carefully; he would show himself for just a little while to the caribou until they got curious and started approaching him. The other group of men were hiding out of sight waiting for the caribou to get passed between them, and when they did, the men then started shooting their arrows at the caribou from both sides. When they finished skinning the caribou, the men loaded up their Qamotiks since they were on dog sleds. When they arrived to their camp, they had to carry the meat through the back of the shelter instead of entering the meat through the front entrance, this was done because the animal which they caught was a land animal.

During the winter, if a seal was killed at night from its breathing hole on the ice floe, it was carried into the shelter through the front entrance and given a drink of fresh water even though it was dead. When the ice floe came from the sea, the men went out to hunt. They carried seal flippers with the hair taken off for storing water on their trips. The flippers that were used were full grown seals because they were softer. While the men were walking on the ice floe, the hunters kept the flippers between their skin and their atigiks (parkas) to melt the snow into water. When the flipper ran out of water, they just refilled it with snow and tucked it into their atigiks and kept in touching their skin so that the snow would melt. When the wind changed direction and blew the ice floe away from the shore, the hunters would start walking north so that they would be closer to the shore.

When a bearded seal was caught, they did not throw away the intestines because if you eat it, you wouldn’t be as thirsty than having eaten meat. Some hunters didn’t have flippers to keep their water so they had to crush some ice that had been softened from the moving ice floe. This ice was not salty.

My mother’s father had once drifted away on an ice floe that was blown away from the land. He was found by a ship. He was taken south by the ship. After a while, he started sending away some things which he had made such as an ulo (ulu) and a harpoon. This was told by a person named Ulialuk who was the son of Emulualuk.

When a walrus was being tracked down, many people had to be involved in trying to catch it. When the walrus got tired, it was then harpooned not only by one person. Because the walrus is heavy to lift from the water to the ice, it had to be skinned while it was still in the water. Although the hunters wished they could take the whole thing, only the best parts of the meat were taken. When the hunters could not catch a seal while hunting, they caught guillemots which are sea birds to eat since there were no ptarmigans on the ice floe.

The white people have always tried to overpower the Inuit. They used to have battles with them and to this day the battle is still going on.

Once a group of hunters recovered a part of a wrecked ship with survivors on it. The survivors were taken back to the camp of the hunters. Soon the white men were living like the Inuit. They even went out hunting with the Inuit. These white people adapted the Inuit way of life in every way. But one day the white men were killed by some Inuit that did not have anything to do with them. It was not a wonder these white people felt sorry for them.

The Inuit used to look for some material to make sewing needles. Some Inuit used to go to an old ship where they took some parts of the old anchor to make needles. They also used ivory and bone to make needles. Stones were used as well for knives. I will stop for now.

(Taqralik, September 1977, page 37)