Inuit - Kigutikak Who Was Carried Off By The Whalers
[This curious story appears to be founded upon a real event, one of the numerous acts of violence committed by the first European visitors to Greenland. If we wish to appreciate properly these reminiscences of the original account given by Kigutikak on his return home, we must take into consideration first the manner in which he probably was treated by his European keepers, merely as an object of curiosity and jokes; next, the difficulty he had in explaining his strange experiences and adventures to his countrymen, who had seen nothing but Greenland; and lastly, the continued endeavours at localising and adaptation by which succeeding narrators have altered it, until it became capable of being understood by every assembly in Greenland, merely as an object of entertainment, without needing any further explanation. From this point of view the tale will be found interesting and instructive with regard to the notions of the natives, and the development of traditions in general.]
IN former times when European ships used to come to the Ameralik shore, the whalers and natives met for trading. Once a whaler warned Kigutikak and his brother: "Ye had better beware of approaching my countrymen yonder; they intend some evil." One day Kigutikak had got some gifts from the sailors; his brother on seeing this envied his good luck; and gathering some of his goods for barter, went off to the malevolent whalers. Kigutikak also collected some trifles and followed his brother; but when the brother approached the ship, a well-manned boat came off to meet him. They seized him and hoisted him on deck, kayak and all. Kigutikak having shared the same fate, the ship weighed anchor and stood out to sea. When fairly clear of land, the wind rose and the sea ran high; once a great wave came sweeping the deck, and the sailors all rushed below for safety. Kigutikak alone remained on deck, and as the sea washed over, he took firm hold of the gunwale. Except a small space where Kigutikak had planted himself, the sea carried away every part of the gunwale with a loud crash; and when the sailors appeared on deck they could not but see that he had been in great danger. Afterwards, when the storm had passed, and they had made a good distance off the land, which was now out of sight, it blew another gale. This time the sailors persuaded him to go below with them before they shipped another sea. Approaching their own country they shortened sail, although the wind was fair, lest it should be known whom they had brought with them. Only at midnight they stood in for the land and anchored. People on shore were heard to call out, "The trading ships are coming." At this news all the houses were quickly illuminated, and afterwards the seamen were invited to come on shore, but the captain would not leave the ship before next morning. The following day he went on shore, taking the Kalaleks (Greenlanders) with him. People having got news of their presence, gathered like gnats in great swarms to catch sight of them. In the boat the captain gave orders to them saying, "When I am going among people on shore, ye must not be staring about you, but keep your eyes fixed on my heels; if ye don't mind my words, and take your eyes off my heels, ye are sure to be lost in the throng;" and they answered him, "Well, we will follow thee closely." On landing there was not a spot to plant their feet, such was the crowd. At last a soldier appeared and undertook to clear a passage for them by dividing the masses, and following in his wake they managed to get through. Arriving at the captain's house the brother of Kigutikak was missing; in looking round he had lost his way, but had fortunately been picked up by some other great man, with whom he remained. When Kigutikak entered with the captain, they found his wife moody and sulking—fancy the idea! she had a fit of jealousy. However, when the captain produced a doll from his pocket, and put it on the table before her, her good temper was somewhat restored. During Kigutikak's stay at their house, one day as he was going out to the privy, on getting outside he was somewhat surprised by two big Europeans menacing him from either side with their long swords. Greatly alarmed, he ventured to tell his master. His master forthwith gave him a bit of a rope with a large knob at one end, saying, "Now go and open the door and hit away among them with all thy might;" and having taken the rope's end he did as he was told, hitting right and left without ever looking at them. Having thus cleared a way for himself, and being again ready to enter, he saw them peeping round a corner of the house, covering their faces with a handkerchief, for in lashing them with the rope he had sorely hurt their eyes. His master merely said, it served them quite right. During his stay at the captain's house, Kigutikak sometimes went out to chase partridges. On one of these excursions he happened to meet a great big European who wanted to kill him, but he forestalled him and killed him instead; and in order that no one should find out the deed, he buried him on p. 380 the spot, and afterwards made the gravel quite smooth on the top. At home he put on an unconcerned air, as if nothing at all had happened. The next day he encountered another big Kavdlunak, who had the same bad fortune; but on meeting one on the same road the third day, whom he was just about to despatch, he suddenly in time recognised his brother. After having questioned each other about various matters, they both fell a-weeping, and then Kigutikak asked his brother where he had come to live. The brother answered him, "My present master is a very grand gentleman; in following you the other day I only turned to look about once, but from that instant losing sight of you, I was happily taken up by him, and am there in want of nothing." When Kigutikak told him what had become of the two big Kavdlunait, the brother rejoined that the other day, on a similar provocation, he had acted the same way. The brother then agreed to meet the next day after the following, whereat they parted and each returned to his place. At the next encounter Kigutikak exclaimed, "What a lot of money I have got!" and the brother replied, "The same have I." And they began to deliberate whether by adding the money together they could not buy a ship with it. The brother decided that it would not be a bad plan and should be carried out, and thus they parted. At home Kigutikak took his master into counsel, asking him, "Could we not put our money together and buy a ship, my brother and I? Pray count it over." "Why, ye have plenty to get one for," his master gave answer; and Kigutikak soon proceeded to carry out his plan, finding materials and hiring the workmen. The hull being finished in spring-time, he began to talk to his master about the masts. "They are easily got," he answered; "a little south of this is a place with many straight and tall trees, just the thing for masts:" and when the time for his departure arrived his master added, "But mark my words: when you cut trees, have great care in looking about on all sides and listen attentively. If you happen to hear any noise, then flee at once, and if you think the way hither too long, betake yourself to a steep rock a little to the north, and there you will find people." He promised to remember this piece of advice; and starting for the forest he at length reached it. He soon found out the highest and most beautiful trees, and very cautiously began to cut them down; but when he was about to fell the second one, he fancied he saw another tree moving, and at the same time heard a noise, but did not take any notice of either as long as he saw nothing (although he had been warned beforehand). No sooner had he caught sight of a horrid beast emerging from among the trees, than he flung down his axe and took to running with all his might. On turning round he plainly saw that the beast was gaining upon him, and his master's home being too far off, he retreated towards the cave, which opened all of itself, and closed in the same manner as soon as he had got within, and almost instantly he heard the pursuing beast bounding against the door with a terrible roar. Inside the cave he found a lot of dissolute women, with whom he remained without caring much for getting home. As time passed and he did not return, his master supposed him to have been devoured by the wild beast; but at that very time he was preparing for his departure, having first had his pockets filled with money by the women as a recompense for having slept with them. On his way home he first repaired to the forest to cut down the second tree and fetch off the tools, and then returned to his master. On seeing him enter, the latter exclaimed, "I thought the wild beast had made thee his prey; where hast thou been all this while?" He answered him, "I was with the solitary women in the cave; they made themselves very pleasant towards me." The master replied, "Oh, that's just what they always do; when once one gets in to them, it is no easy matter to free one's self from them and get away."
When the ship had been masted and was ready for sea, it was put into the water, and two men set to work loading it; but on going to leave port, they were only three for the ship all told—viz., the brothers and a cook. At this time the brother unfortunately fell ill, and, getting worse and worse, at length died, whereupon Kigutikak set on fire and burned his ship, and buried all his stores in the sea. This was about the usual time of departure for the whalers going to Greenland. His master said, "Thou art sad and low-spirited; a walk would be a change and diversion for thee." They set out, and arriving at a small lake, found a boat moored off the shore; in this they rowed across to the other side, and soon reaching another lake and a small boat, they crossed this in the same manner, and then proceeded to the next lake, where they likewise found a boat, such being the regular means of conveyance for travellers going this way. Having moored the last boat and proceeded on their way, they soon arrived at a town in the middle part of the country, where they entered a house to get refreshments. Whilst they were eating, they heard a cry, "The whalers are leaving! the whalers are off!" At this news Kigutikak started, and leaving his meal unfinished, he sped down and unmoored the boat, his master following at a little distance. He travelled back across the lakes all by himself, his master being continually somewhat behind. When Kigutikak at last reached the main harbour, he heard that the whaling ships were all gone, excepting one, whose crew had just gone ashore to undo the cables. Kigutikak was just in time to jump into the boat and get on board. His master, who all this time had been unable to keep pace with him, was now calling to the sailors to take good care of him, and watch him closely during their stay in Greenland.
After a voyage of many days, they got sight of the southern point of the land; and from that time Kigutikak would no more undress himself; he wanted to make use of his time and collect as many odd bits of old iron as he could with which to stuff his pockets before leaving the Europeans. As soon as he recognised his own country, and the places where he used to live, he proposed to the sailors to land and go out partridge-shooting. To this they consented, but without leaving him alone for a single moment, fearing he would either be lost or run off for his home. Kigutikak then told them, "Ye need not fear my being lost, but just go after your game;" and so they left him for a short time. No sooner had they turned their backs upon him than he hid himself in a deep cleft; and immediately after he heard them shouting for him, and saying to each other, "We were charged to keep a good watch over him, and it will be a bad job for us if he is not found." As soon as he thought them sufficiently far off, he emerged and proceeded onwards. Having wandered a long while, he observed a steep rock, and began to descend it. Half-way down, he was somewhat perplexed at finding himself utterly unable either to advance or retreat. At length he determined to ease himself of all the things he had carried away in his pockets, and slid down the rest of the way. He proceeded still further, and came in sight of a great many tents. Seeing him approach, people came running and crying aloud, "Kigutikak is coming!" and then all the rest hastened out to have a look at him. He asked them in the Kavdlunak language, "Where is my family?" but they could not understand him. Asking them in their own language, however, their place of abode was pointed out to him. His own people had long ago given him up, and since then an old bachelor had undertaken to provide for them. Kigutikak rewarded him by allowing him to choose himself some trifles among the pieces of iron he had brought along with him.
Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, by Henry Rink; London  and is now in the public domain. [Greenland]