Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/323

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GREENLAND AND THE GREENLANDERS.

Robert Brown regard it as essentially the same as that of the north European highlands and lacustrine regions. Even on the west coast, facing America, this-European physiognomy is said to prevail, although to a less degree than on the opposite side, which appears to be much poorer in vegetable forms. But, though limited, the American element is important, supplying to the natives numerous edible berries, algæ, and fuci, which have saved whole tribes from starvation during periods of scarcity. The Europeans have also their little garden-plots, where they grow lettuce, cabbage, turnips, and occasionally potatoes about the size of schoolboys' marbles.

The great bulk of the present population consists of Danes, Danish half-breeds, and the Eskimo proper, more or less modified by crossings with the early Norse settlers. Nearly all the inhabitants, already Christianized and civilized by the missionaries, are grouped in parishes, whose organization differs from corresponding European communities only in those conditions that are imposed by the climate and the struggle for existence. There still survive, however, a few tribes of pure Eskimo stock, such as those recently discovered by European explorers beyond the Danish territory north of Melville Bay and on the east coast. Others also may perhaps exist along the shores of unvisited or inaccessible fiords. But the most northern camping-ground hitherto discovered is that of Ita (Etah), situated in Port Foulke on Smith Sound, in 78° 18' north latitude. In 1875 and again in 1881 it was found abandoned; but it is known to have been previously inhabited, and the natives had returned to the place in 1882 and 1883.[1] When visited by Hall and his party, this little group of twenty persons, who had never seen any other human beings, fancied that the strangers were ghosts, the souls of their forefathers descending from the moon or rising from the depths of the abyss. In their eyes the ships of John Ross were great birds, with huge, flapping wings.

Among the Greenland Eskimo are most frequently found men of average and even high stature, especially on the east coast. Most of those on the west side are short, but thick-set and robust, with short legs, small hands, and a yellowish-white complexion. The face is broad and flat, the nose very small, the eyes brown and slightly oblique like the Chinese; the hair black, lank, and falling over the forehead; the expression mild, suggesting that of the seal, the animal which is ever in their thoughts, and whose death is their life. They have also the seal's gait and carriage, as well as a rounded figure well lined with fat to protect it from the cold. What essentially distinguishes the Eskimo from the Mongolian, with whom he was till recently affiliated, is the extremely "doli-


  1. Greely, Three Years of Arctic Service.