4. Local Assistants: Hunters, Guides, Seamstresses etc.
Alingnak, also known as "Freeman," along with his wife Guninanna
and their adopted daughter, Topsy Ikiuna, was hired by Stefansson to be a hunter
for the Expedition's Northern Party and travelled and hunted with Stefansson and
others on Banks and Melville Islands. Both Stefansson and Anderson had worked
with Alingnak on their previous expedition. Stefansson "found him to be a
cheerful and good companion and not at all lazy, although incapable of hard work
through ill health" (Stefansson 1913). For example, Alingnak was not able
to travel at top speed: "Alingnak, whose lungs are not the best, had great
difficulty in overtaking Eimu." (Stefansson 1921). As a hunter, Alingnak
was paid wages of $20 to $75 a month, depending on the work and time of year.
Alingnak's father was Iyituaryuk, from the Baillie Islands; he lived in the winter
settlement of Nogarvik in 1913 (Stefansson 1913). His grandmother, "the old
woman Panigyuk at Baillie Island (mother of Irituorak, 'Rambler')" used to
live in one of the whale-skull/sod houses at Langton Bay (R.M. Anderson Diary
September 2, 1910).
Descendants named for him include Holman artist Alex Alingnak
Banksland, creator of many fine prints.
The seamstress Amaganna was paid $240 for a year's work at Cape Kellett, Banks
Island, during the winter of 1916-1917 (Aud. Rept. 1916-1917). We know little
about this person. She is not named by either Stefansson or Jenness. It is possible
that she was the wife of Iyituaryuk, who also served
a year at Cape Kellett (Aud. Rept. 1916-1917).
Ole Andreasen came to Arctic Canada from his native Norway at some point prior
to 1912. Stefansson first met Ole in the spring of 1912 near the Mackenzie River
(Stefansson 1921 p. 25). In 1914 Diamond Jenness met Andreasen at the house he
owned near Barter Island on Alaska's northern coast. Stefansson hired Ole as a
member of his first ice exploratory party when they travelled over the ice of
the Beaufort Sea to Banks Island in 1914 and 1915. Stefansson praised Andreasen,
remarking on his "admirable quality of cheerfulness under all circumstances"
and describing him as "the man who next to Storkerson was the best ice traveller
I have ever known." (Stefansson 1921)
Andreasen left the Expedition in 1916. "Ole ...now had sufficient capital
to buy a small schooner and start out on the independent trading operations which
he belived were destined to make his fortune. He went out with Captain Lane in
the Gladiator and I learned later that he eventually purchased that ship."
Andreasen wintered with the Gladiator near Herschel
Island, then headed south to Nome where he sold Gladiator to Daniel Sweeney
(former master of Alaska for the CAE) for $2000 in August 1916. "Ole
Adreason has decided not to go back north this year, as his brother has not arrived,
nor the Polar Bear from which he was to get supplies." (R.M. Anderson
Diary Aug. 26, 1916)
By 1918, "Ole Andreasen was now in charge of a trading
post at Shingle Point" (Stefansson 1921). In the late 1920s, Andreasen was
a trader at Atkinson Point, and encouraged Inuvialuit trappers to go to Banksland.
He sold Allen Okpik an outfit and schooner in 1929 (Usher 1971). Ole operated
fur trading posts at Atkinson Point from ca.1921 to 1933 and at Richardson Island
from 1933 to 1943 (Usher 1971).
"Ole Andreasen was still at Tapkrak [Shingle Point]. But
he wanted to establish himself farther east in the Krangmalit country. The same
year  the Bay Chimo, the H.B.C.'s big boat, was hurled by the ice onto an
ice-pack" (Nuligak/Metayer 1966).
"Ole Andreassen, was a Norwegian who had come from a place
not far from where I [Larsen] was born. He had been a member of Stefansson's Expedition...
Andreassen now had his own trading post and would have been a well-to-do man had
he not been so kind-hearted that he gave away almost everything he had, both to
Eskimos and to whites" (Larsen 1967).
RCMP Commissioner Wood suggested that Henry Larsen try to get
Ole Andreasen, who was then around sixty-five years old, to join the crew of the
RCMP St. Roch for her trip through the Northwest Passage. Ole was flown out from
Coronation Gulf to Halifax, where he joined Larsen's crew (Larsen 1967). He was
awarded the Polar Medal along with other members of the St. Roch crew
(National Archives of Canada RG18 Series G Vol. 3469).
Ole Andreasen is well remembered in the western Arctic today.
"Ole Andreasen used to be manager at Atkinson Point. [He was] married to
Attugiyuuk. One day [we] had Christmas [at Ole's], and Ole's wife said, in English,
Ole, open the nose!" [In Inuvialuktun the word kinguk means nose or
nostril and is also used to describe a ventilator] (Edward Ruben, 2002).
Link and Tahoe Washburn visited Ole and his wife
Susannah at their home at Richardson Island in February 1941. At that time
his son Jasper and his two little girls were living there. "Ole was a quiet,
modest man and his description of these extended journeys over unknown sea and
lands made them sound quite matter of fact, whereas they were extraordinary."
(Washburn 2001, Under Polaris)
"Ole died in Vancouver in 1946 and was buried with full
Mounted Police honours" (Larsen 1967).
Captain Matt Andreasen
Matt (or Martin) Andreasen was Ole's brother. Although Matt was never a member
of the CAE, he did sell his schooner North Star and provisions to Stefansson.
He also owned a shack and provisions at Point Atkinson, N.W.T. Matt Andreasen
had a house at Point Atkinson which Jenness on North Star visited in August
1914. Matt was also known as Cheechako Anderson.
James Asaela (Jim Fiji)
Jim Fiji was working for Captain Fritz Wolki on the schooner, Rosie H as
a harpooner in 1910 (R.M.Anderson Diary 1910). In 1915 Nuligak refers to Jim living
on the schooner, Rosie H. and taking 110 foxes, still employed as a harpooner
for one of the the Rosie H.'s whaleboats (Nuligak/Metayer 1966).
Jim Fiji worked for the Northern Party of the CAE from August
1915 to September 1917. He was paid $75 per month with a bonus of $2.50 a day
for watching a cache probably the caribou meat cache on the east coast of Banks
Island for 60 days (Auditor General's Report 1919-20).
Jim Fiji was still living at Baillie Island in 1925 (Gillingham
1955). Metayer gives the following note on Jim's death: "Jim Fiji, Hawaiian
also (with Tom Emsley), stayed in the neighbourhood of Booth. He lived in a shack
still visible today. He never married. According to the Eskimos, he was partially
blind. In 1925 he disappeared; it is believed that having gone seal hunting out
on the sea ice, his poor sight caused him to mistake the black colour of open
water for the reflection of land, and he went through the ice" (Nuligak/Metayer
"Jim stayed at Booth Island, in a little harbour with
schooner, called Fiji Island. Nice people. [He was] trapping. After [I don't know
how many] years, he drifted out by ice, never came back. Too bad, [he was] getting
old too. From Booth Island, between Cape Parry, fifteen miles, [he was] trying
to cut across from Booth Island to Cape Parry. Didn't know [about] current, opened
(Interview with Edward Ruben, September 2002, Paulatuk.)
Emiu was known also as "Split-the-wind" due to his fondness for fast
dogteams. Originally from Nome, and formerly cabin boy on the schooner Polar
Bear, Emiu took part in all of the "New Land" sled trips in the
Arctic islands between 1916 and 1918 (Stefansson 1921 p. 450, 569).
Emiu had spent two years in Seattle and most of the rest of his life in Nome,
"Split was a game little fellow, like a compact bundle
of fine steel wires. He had a habit of pulling his belt tight which made him look
even more gaunt than he was, and at camp-time he used to delight in talking about
the fine beefsteaks we would order when we finally got back to civilization"
"Split began it. He told us... how on such a date he had
trained the team of racing dogs that won the All Alaska Sweepstakes in so many
hours, 'Twenty-three minutes and eighty-nine seconds flat!'" (Noice
Split was one of several former members of the Canadian Arctic
Expedition who succumbed to the influenza epidemic of 1918. "Little Split
died of influenza a few days after he reached Nome" (Noice 1924).
Wife of Alingnak, and mother (adoptive) of Topsy Ikiuna, Guninanna, or "Kuninana"
worked as as a seamstress for the Northern Party of the CAE from September 1915
to May 1917, at wages of $20 or $40 a month (Auditor General's Report 1919-20).
Stefansson hired her primarily as a seamstress, but found her knowledge of Inuit/Inuvialuit
customs to be invaluable. "Guninana is one of the best Eskimo informants
I have ever had and some of the chief ethnological results of my former expedition
were based on her information" (Stefansson 1921).
"I found that Guninana was far better versed in the ancient
lore of her people, spoke the Baillie Islands dialect with undoubted purity of
accent, and was the most cheerful and long-suffering person I have ever encountered
in answering what must necessarily be tedious questions..."
"Guninana ....told me of how diseases were controlled, how famines were averted,
how people were killed or cured by magic, how the future could be foretold and
the secrets of the past uncovered, how people could see through hills and fly
to the moon, and various things of that sort of which the Christian Eskimo pretend
an ignorance and of which they will either tell you nothing or else half truths
and untruths.... Guninana alone could have told me stories, she said (and I suppose
it to be true), that it would have taken me years to write down" (Stefansson
The adopted daughter of Alingnak and Guninanna, Topsy Ikiuna travelled with the
CAE to Banks and Melville Islands from 1915 to 1917. She was paid for ten months
work as a seamstress, at a wage of $40 a month (Auditor General's Report 1919-20).
In October 1916, Topsy and Natkusiak were married on
Melville Island. "I saw Ikiuna, Natkusiak's newly wedded wife chewing gum...
using ... the black pitch they had found in the [coal] mine" (Noice 1924).
[link to Natkusiak biography, below]
Elizabeth Banksland of Holman, Topsy's daughter-in-law, remembers
her as a fine seamstress. "Topsy (Ikiuna) was quarter breed; dark and with
curly hair" (Elizabeth Banksland interview, September 2002, Holman).
In September 2002, Jimmy Memogana recalled a drum dancing song
about Melville Island that he had learned from his Mother, Topsy Ikiuna. This
song was composed by Kikoak, adopted son of Atenoyuk from Alaska, on Melville
Island during the Canadian Arctic Expedition. The song laments the long winters
on the northern islands and remarks on the numbers of muskoxen.
"Pungmagok Pungma" (Above Us)
Our weather around us
Our land (here) with us
It doesn't become spring
It doesn't become summer
Going around the seasons (the circle)
Too many muskoxen
Too many muskoxen.
Illun, originally from Herschel Island, was a member of the Polar Bear crew,
and travelled with Stefansson's Northern Party to the Arctic islands in 1915 and
1916. He and his wife Kutok, a seamstress for the Expedition, worked on Victoria
and Melville Islands, and Illun was a member of the 1917 exploratory party. When
travelling with Stefansson, Illun provided him with information on many interesting
aspects of Inuit supernatural beliefs (Stefansson 1921). Illun established a hunting
camp at Ramsay Island near Walker Bar, Victoria Island.
Illun's wages from August 1915 to February 1916 ranged from
$20 per month to $45 per month. He was also paid a bonus of $5 per day for special
work. When he left the CAE, he bought dogs and supplies from the Expedition (Auditor
General's Report 1919-20).
The Expedition purchased various supplies from Illun, including
mooseskins, snowshoes, tea, and traps (24 at $1.50).
Iyituaryuk, known as "Rambler," worked for the Expedition for at least
a year, at the Cape Kellett Camp on Banks Island. George Wilkins' diary refers
to Rambler being at Cape Kellett in 1916 and the Auditor General's report for 1916-1917
records his salary of $240 for one year's services at Cape Kellett. Iyituaryuk
also sold to the Expedition six of his dogs ("2 at $30, 3 at $15, 1 $10)
plus some fish and 100 lbs of whale meat (Auditor General's Report 1916-1917).
Although Iyituaryuk is not mentioned by Stefansson (1921) as
part of the Northern Party, he had met Iyituaryuk in March 1910 when he arrived
with other visitors at the winter settlement of Nogarvik, 12 miles east of the
Baillie Islands (Stefansson 1912). Stefansson records Iyituaryuk as being Alingnak's
father. R.M. Anderson's diary tells us that Iyituaryuk's mother was "the
old woman Panigyuk at Baillie Island... [who] used to live in one of the whale-skull/sod
houses at Langton Bay" ( R.M. Anderson Diary, September 2, 1910).
Stefansson mentions that Iyituaryuk was a boy some fifty years
prior to 1910 (Stefansson 1912), suggesting he was born about 1855 and thus would
have been 61 years old in 1916. Wilkin's diary refers to "this couple,"
suggesting that Iyituaryuk was there with his wife, possibly the
seamstress, Amaganna. In a letter to Girling
(July 13, 1916) Anderson records that "The 'Mary Sachs'
is still hauled up at Cape Kellett, with Capt. Bernard and old Irituayuk ('Old
Rambler') and family with him."
Kutok (Katie Roland)
The wife of Illun, Kutok also is mentioned by Stefansson (1921) as providing him
with information on local beliefs. As a seamstress, Kutok was paid $100 for her
work during the year 1916-1917 at Cape Kellett, Banks Island, and $20 a month for
the two years from September 1917 to 1919, working on Melville and Victoria Islands
(Auditor General's Report 1919-20).
Kutok was later known as Katie Roland and her memories of the
time with the CAE are recorded in archival tapes and quoted extensively in the
Aulavik Oral History Project (Nagy 1999). Here is a sample:
"Then we started off with the Mimiqluks, the Ikugaks, Mamayauq and also Panigavluk
when they got home, and Palaiyaq too. It was us that were the Inupiat. There was
lots of us and we started off. When we pushed out from the shore, they started
blowing the horns, and I just about started crying. We just travelled and travelled
and started off to the ocean with a boat that had two big sails. They said the
boat was the Polar Bear. They were lots of white people, they were very
lively these white people.... we finally made it to Banks Island. Some Inupiat
were [there] and they greeted us. A white man named Charlie (Thomsen?) had a wife,
but I forgot her name. Also them two, Kiguaq and somebody else. They were workers
there at Banks Island. They were looking after the dogs. These two took so long,
and with my husband Itluun, they stayed behind."
Peter Lopez was a whaler before he joined the CAE. He had come to the Arctic on
a whaling ship which was wrecked on Diamond Rock.This ship was probably the whaler
Alexander which went ashore in fog at Cape Parry in August 1906.
"Peter Lopez stayed with us at Tom Cod Bay for two years.
He was travelled with old ship when it was wrecked between west side of Cape Parry
on Diamond Rock, a big rock by itself, high [out of the water?]. They were travelling
in fog. Met him in 1925. He stayed at Stephen Point. He used to tell story [of]
when the boat wrecked at Diamond Rock. The crew from the whaler took whaleboat
[and were] heading out for Herschel Island. [They] stayed at Stephen Point"
(Edward Ruben 2002).
According to Frank Carpenter of Inuvik, Peter was well known
to the Inuit. His reputation as a whaler includes a story of him jumping onto
the back of a whale during a hunt (Frank Carpenter Interview, September 2002,
R. M. Anderson recorded in September 1914, that the whaler
Rosie H. left the Baillie Islands "Manned by Tom Emmsley, Jim Fiji,
and Peter Lopez (Portuguese negro)" intending to winter at Booth Island (R.M.
Anderson Diary, September 9, 1914).
In 1915 Peter Lopez was "in charge of the schooner [Rosie
H.], had with him Nuligak's brother Jim, Nuligak's mother and Lopez's wife....
Peter Lopez, a Negro, after a year at Baillie went to live in Aklavik" (Nuligak/Metayer
Peter Lopez joined the Canadian Arctic Expedition at the Baillie
Islands in August 1915. "Pete Lopes, a Portuguese from the Rosie H.,
had asked me for a job yesterday, and from what I can hear he seems a willing
and capable man, so I engaged him this morning to help with the [North]
Star. We could do without him, I daresay, but we can do better with him, for a
boat however small needs four men to keep her running continually through these
waters where one is liable to meet ice at any moment. He has an Eskimo woman with
him, and she will be an additional help with the sewing." (Wilkins Diary,
August 15, 1915). Lopez and his wife Uttaktuak travelled
to Banks Island with Wilkins on the North Star and helped with the Northern
Party in many ways. He was part of the hunting and travelling parties on Melville
Island the winter of 1916, killing caribou and muskoxen, preparing and caching
meat for Stefansson's advance parties.
In 1917 Peter Lopez and Uttaktuak left Victoria Island on Polar
Bear, stopping at the Kellett base on Banks Island. "... both ships [Polar
Bear and Challenge] proceeded to the harbour at Cape Bathurst where
Captain Gonzales left the expedition. We also put off several of our other men
who desired to become trappers there, Pete Lopez, Jim Fiji, and some Eskimos"
Lopez's and Uttaktuak's daughter Lucy Adams, of Inuvik, was
born at Tom Cod Bay in 1931. She recalls little of her parents early history as
her mother died when she was only three years old, and her father when she was
eight (1938). After Uttaktuak died (about 1934), Lopez put Lucy into school at
Aklavik. "He stayed in the Mission, working for the Brothers and Father in
Aklavik. He did fishing for their dogs, two teams plus his own and in winter under
ice fishing with nets. All schools were burning wood. He was cutting cordwood
summer and winter at the Brothers' camp. There were five big buildings to heat
at the Mission. He stayed, room and board, at the Father's house. He often went
out to the Brothers' camp, fishing for the dogs, the hospital, and Mission food.
I only see him when he comes to town." Peter Lopez and Lucy's brother Emmanuel
(who died in 1942) are buried in the old graveyard in Aklavik. Lucy remembers
her father being six feet tall, and dark with really curly hair. Her mother's
English name was Sarah or Nellie (Lucy Adams interview, Inuvik, September 2002).
Wilkins recorded taking a photograph of Lopez at Banks Island in 1916. "Wilkins
# 321. Pete Lopez, a portugese sailor hired by Wilkins at Baillie Islands in August
1915, at the North Star camp, north of mouth of Bernard River, Banks Island, N.W.T.,
February 21, 1916." Unfortunately, this photo is one of several listed by
Wilkins that have not been located.
Mamayauk (Mamie Mamayauq)
Mamayauk was the wife of Ilavinirk,
and mother of a daughter Nogasak. The couple had adopted the boy,
Palaiyak, who was about
20 years old at the time of the CAE. Both Ilavinirk and Mamayauk
had worked for Stefansson on his earlier expedition (Stefansson 1913).
"Ilavinirk was as an informant... not nearly so good as
his wife Mamayauk, who further had the advantage of speaking the Mackenzie dialect
fairly pure" (Stefansson 1913).
Mamayauk worked as a seamstress for the Northern Party and was paid at least $450
for her work (Auditor General's Report 1919-20).
As recorded in the Aulavik Oral History Project (Nagy 1999),
Mamayauk recalls the relationship between the local people and Stefansson: "That
Stefansson, long time ago he was in our land, around here (Holman) when there
was nobody around. When he first went to the people, he had no stuff at all, only
a mattress and blankets. That's all he had to himself. He had nothing at all.
He just tried to eat from the people, when Stefansson first come. Then when he
came again the second time, he got stuff and came. All that time he had been preparing
a expedition. The ones that he always ate from, he began to give them lots, the
ones that he spent winter with, both winter and summer. He used to keep moving
from people to people."
A younger woman from the Baillie Islands, named Violet Mamayauk,
worked as a seamstress for the Northern Party and Stefansson
paid her at least $450 for her work (Auditor General's Report
1919-20). Noice (1924) records that Captain
Henry Gonzales and
Mamayauk were married during the CAE, probably at Victoria Island
in 1917 (Noice 1924). Gonzales built a house for them at
Baillie Islands in 1917. It is not known whether they had any
children or how long they stayed together.
Wilkins photographed "Mammayauk," in a colourful parka, with
her mother Paddy (Betty?) at Baillie Islands on July 26, 1916.
One of these photographs (GHW 51337) appears in Stefansson (1921)
with the caption, "Mamayauk, half-white girl, Cape Bathurst."
August Masik was an Estonian sailor who moved north to Nome in 1914. He travelled
to Banks Island with Crawford in 1917 to trap Arctic foxes. From De Salis Bay
on the southeastern side of Banks Island, he and Otto Binder travelled across
the pass, now known as Masik Pass, to the CAE camp near Cape Kellett. There he
was hired to help Castel in restoring the schooner Mary Sachs. Because
of his sailing experience, Stefansson appointed him First Mate of the Challenge
for a short time in September 1917. He then became second officer on the Polar
Bear for almost a year. At Barter Island, Alaska, he volunteered to be a member
of Storkersen's 1918 Ice Trip. He finally received a formal letter of discharge
from Stefansson in 1919.
Three years after the end of the CAE, Masik joined a party
of traders who wanted help in salvaging the Polar Bear, then stranded at
the mouth of the Kolyma River in Siberia. He wintered there in 1921-22, doing
some repair work on the schooner and running a trapline under permit from the
Communists. He left in the summer and overwintered in 1922-23 at Cape Billings,
Siberia, opposite Wrangel Island (the year Lorne Knight and others died at Wrangel
Island). He lived in a small cabin near Martin Point on the north coast of Alaska
until at least 1934.
"Natkusiak had accompanied him [Stefansson] on his visit to the 'Copper'
Eskimos of Coronation Gulf. He had joined Stefansson on the present expedition
in 1914, and had since been one of the crew of the North Star. Therefore,
he and the Commander were old friends. Natkusiak was a little man, about forty,
a typical Eskimo, but with a fair command of English, for he had worked on ships;
He was jolly, fond of telling funny stories, and a bundle of energy" (Noice
"Since 1926 when moved to this area, Baillie Islands,
I used to see Natkusiak. He told about Stefansson. One time Natkusiak was guide,
[he liked to] smoke pipe." Once when Stefansson and Natkusiak met "three
young guys from the eastern Arctic, Natkusiak filled up his pipe and when he struck
match, those guys just tooked off. He hollered at them, 'I won't do nothing to
you guys.' But they never even looked back." (Edward Ruben Interview, September
When Stefansson's "ankle incapacitated him for hunting,
most of this work fell on Natkusiak, who was one of the best Eskimo hunters I
have ever known; he was a tireless walker, and when he found caribou he had the
patience to wait interminably for a chance to approach them from behind cover"
In October 1916, on their return from Meighen Island, Noice describes Natkusiak's
work in establishing camp [at Cape Grassy]; "It was a mighty creditable performance.
Natkusiak certainly deserved all the praise we gave him. How good it was to be
with our friends again!" Noice lists the inhabitants of camp: Natkusiak and
his newly wedded wife, Ikiuna, Pannigabluk, Alingnak and his wife, "little
Guninana" (Noice 1924).
Natkusiak married Topsy Ikiuna, daughter
of Alingnak and his wife Guninanna,
during their time with the CAE Northern Party on Melville Island in October 1916.
Natkusiak was paid $65 and $75 per month and received a bonus
for ice travel. At the end of the Expedition, the North Star and some supplies
were turned over to Natkusiak in lieu of $2000 wages owing (Auditor General's
After the CAE
Following the departure of the Canadian Arctic Expedition in 1917, Natkusiak spent
four years (1917 to 1921) trapping in northwest Banksland using the schooner as
his base. Fred Carpenter told Usher (1971) that Natkusiak and his party trapped
about 1000 foxes in the four years between 1917 and when he left Banksland on
North Star in 1921. Natkusiak travelled south from his North Star camp
to Nelson Head and made the dangerous trip across the ice of Amundsen Gulf by
dog team in the winter of 1918-1919 and possibly in 1919-1920 as well to visit
Fritz Wolki's trading post (Usher 1971 and Manning 1956).
Agnes Goose of Holman Island recalls information about her
father Natkusiak; "Then he married my mother Topsy Ikiuna. Her family was
also working for Stefansson, and she and my Dad met up at Melville Island. After
my Dad finished working for Stefansson, he lived on Banks Island and then moved
to Baillie Island where they had a house. That's also when they adopted Jimmy
(Memogana). When my Dad finished working for Stefansson, he got the North Star.
After the Expedition, Natkusiak returned to a life of hunting
and trapping. Later known as Billy Banksland, he spent a number of years trapping
on Banksland. With his wife, Topsy Ikiuna, who was
from the Mackenzie Delta, he
had six children. In 1939 he moved his family to Holman Island. Natkusiak died
and was buried in Holman in 1947. A Peninsula in Victoria Island and a basalt
rock formation on Holman Island are named in his honour.
Several of Natkusiak and Ikiuna's children became well-known artists. Alex Banksland,
also named Alingnak after his mother's adoptive father, produced many interesting
prints, many featured in the annual Holman print catalogue. Their adopted son
Jimmy Memorana (Memogana) is an accomplished artist, creating both carvings and
prints, an important drum-dancer and singer, and a well-known hunter and dedicated
assistant to wildlife biologists. Jimmy was elected a Fellow of the Arctic Institute
of North America.
Jimmy Memorana remembers much about Natkusiak. His advice to
Jimmy: "Feed the dogs before you eat, before you go inside to eat. Look after
it [them] good." Jimmy tells that: "Billy Banksland had one box of shells
for one year. Had good dogs all the time. Used same sled [as during CAE] afterwards."
Jimmy played the role of Natkusiak in James Houston's film, The Winners,
in the 1970s (Jimmy Memorana interview, September 2002, Holman).
(and son Alex Stefansson)
The Mackenzie Inuvialuit woman known as Pannigabluk or Panivaluk had been Stefansson's
seamstress during his 1908-1912 expedition, and became his wife according to local
custom during that time. Their son Alex or Alashuk was born in 1910. Pannigabluk
was again hired briefly by Stefansson for work at Martin Point and on the North
Star, in northern Alaska, in the spring of 1914, and later on the Polar
Bear in August 1915. Pannigabluk was paid for at least 32 months of work during
During the exploration of the New Lands in 1916, Stefansson sent Storkersen
back from Cape Murray on Brock Island (New Land) to Victoria Island to bring Storkersen's
wife and family and the seamstress Pannigabluk north to Melville Island, to make
clothes for the explorers (Noice 1924). In early 1916 Pannigabluk, with her young
son Alex, started north from Victoria Island with a party led by Storkersen and
consisting of Storkersen's family, Martin Kilian, Jim (Fiji) Asasela, and Lorne
Knight, heading to Banks and Melville Islands (Montgomery 1932).
When Noice was returning south from the newly-discovered Meighen
Island (in October 1916) Pannigabluk was one of the inhabitants of the camp at
Cape Grassy, along with Natkusiak and his newly-wedded wife, Ikiuna, and Alingnak
and his wife "little Guninana" (Noice 1924). In late November 1916 Noice
left Cape Grassy Camp with Natkusiak, Ikiuna, and Pannigabluk and her little son,
and all their dogs, heading south to where there was more abundant food. (Noice
1924 p. 196).
In the spring of 1917, Pannigabluk and Alex were at the camp
at Peddie Point on southern Melville Island. When Gonzales left Cape Grassy with
Lopez, Alingnak, and Guninana, he had orders to pick up the women at Peddie Point
- Mrs. Storkerson, Mrs. Lopez, and Pannigabluk - and take them to the Polar
Bear" (Noice 1924).
It seems that Pannigabluk and Alex were on the Polar Bear
for the short summer sailing season of 1917 when the schooner travelled from Victoria
Island to Banks Island and out to Alaska. From John Hadley's diary we learn that
they were at Barter Island from December 1917 until May 1918. Panny's skills as
seamstress were still an essential part of the CAE:
December 29, 1917: "Punny has the gout in her arm and
shoulder and is unable to work and the other two women are very slow."
February 1, 1918: "I had Pannagubluk made 4 snowshirts and 6 snowpants today
which completes the amount needed for the ice party. She has made 10 pairs of
water boots, but no canvas boots."
February 6, 1918: "I received 14 pairs of boots today from Punnagubluk, 2
more to come which will give us 17 pairs of water boots and 7 pairs of canvas
boots on hand. There will be 4 pairs of canvas boots and 2 of water boots at Collinson
Point to pick up when they go by."
(John Hadley Diary, October 1917 to July 1918).
May 28, 1918: "Our old friend Punnigubluk left us this
morning bound for the island; I believe she has changed her mind about Point Barrow,
as she said that the women were talking too much and she was not satisfied any
way" (Hadley Diary, October 1917 to July 1918).
In mid November 1918, Storkersen's Ice Party found Punnigabluk
living "all by herself" at a cabin at the mouth of the Hula-Hula River
(Knight Diary, 1918). She told them that the Polar Bear had sunk in the
harbour at Barter Island the previous summer, but that "They fix her up all
right. She leave little while ago with rest white men. You like some tea?"
After tea with "this charming social leader of the North" they set out
for Barter Island, ten miles away (Montgomery 1932).
As seamstress and companion on many of the northern trips,
Pannigabluk was well-liked by Expedition members. When Lorne Knight arrived in
Edmonton on his way south, and after he had cleaned himself up and bought a new
suit of clothes, he commented to himself; "Punnigabluk should have seen me
then!" (Montgomery 1932 p. 288).
Among the mammals collected during the CAE, at the Canadian
Museum of Nature, is an Alaska mink (Lutreola sp.) "From Pannigabluk,
MacKenzie River Delta, N.W.T., Canada. Winter 1914-1915" (R.M. Anderson Specimen
Though Stefansson did not publically acknowledge Panigabluk
as his wife, he did dedicate his book, Unsolved Mysteries of the Arctic,
"To Fannie." The grandchildren of Pannigabluk and Stefansson remember
much about this woman and her relationship with Stefansson. Rosie (Stefansson)
Albert of Inuvik remembers her grandmother telling her: "You are going to
be no good for nothing like your grandfather!" Always reading and writing
while she hunted and did all the work!
Shirley Esau of Sachs Harbour, who named her daughter after
Pannigabluk (actually Panygavlok), remembers her grandmother's skill at sewing,
and treasures the memory of her Grandmother's red sewing box.
From Barrow, Alaska, Pausanna or Pauchina, was hired as a helper with the Church
of England missionary H. Girling and had a camp with his wife and children near
Bernard Harbour in 1915-16, during the time of the Expedition. Later, in 1918,
Pausanna helped with the camp and hunting at Barter Island, Alaska, in support
of Storkersen's last ice trip, and in the repair of the schooner Polar Bear.
John Hadley's 1918 diary records that the Expedition purchased
"two pairs of snowshoes today from Pausanna" at Barter Island, Alaska,
and in May that "Pausanna got two seals in the net" (Hadley Diary, 1918).
Pikalu had been with Stefansson "on and off" during the 1908-1912 Stefansson-Anderson
Expedition (Stefansson 1912). Stefansson noted that Pikalu's father was Kunasluk.
Pikalu and his wife Pusimmik were members of the 1917 exploratory party and hunted
with Sefansson, Illun and Palaiyak. Pikalu also travelled with Captain Gonzales
and Jim Fiji to the Inuit village at Minto Inlet in the winter of 1917 to trade
for artifacts for the Expedition's ethnological collections (Stefansson 1921).
"After several miles chase the dogs stopped the bears
and held them at bay until Pikalu came up with the gun. He shot the mother bear
and then the Kogmollik[s] wanted to shoot the others, for they said that they
had run so far. Pikalu gave them the gun and they shot the cubs. I kept the two
cubs for specimens" (George Wilkins Diary).
Several members of the CAE Northern Party (Baur, Castel, Hadley) recorded the
by drowning of a CAE Inupiat employee, Pipsuk, whose name was not on the
official memorial plaque listing all those who died while on CAE service; "In
Memory of Those who Perished - Canadian Arctic Expedition 1913-18." Pipsuk
was from Nome and had been a member of the crew of the schooner Challenge
when purchased for the Expedition by Stefansson in September 1917.
"...Pipsuk our native belonging to Nome formerly of the
Schr Challenge crew was drowned this afternoon While tending the fish nets his
kayak capsized drifted ashore where it was found. Our men dragged for the body
which was found about 50 yards from the beach. The carpenter is making a coffin.
He will probably be buried tomorrow... Monday, July 22nd, 1918
...The coffin was finished at 3am and all the preparations made for the burial
of Pipsuk...Coffin completed and head stone marked. Pipsuks funeral to be this
evening sometime...Pipsuk was buried on Barter Island at 7PM at East end with
appropriate head stone. Tuesday 23rd, 1918"
(W.J. Baur Diary, Dec 1916 - Sept 1918).
Pusimmik, wife of Pikalu, was hired as a seamstress for the Expedition at $20
per month. She was paid for the equivalent of over two years of service "at
Herschel and Melville Islands" (Auditor General's Report 1917-18).
Jennie Thomsen was an Inupiat from Nome, Alaska, and the wife of Charles
Thomsen. She was hired by Stefansson as a seamstress for the Expedition's
Northern Party. Jennie was mother of 16-month old Annie in 1914 and bore a son
during the Expedition, whose name has not yet been discovered. Jennie helped Diamond
Jenness with his language studies and and in recording Inuit/Inupiat stories during
the first winter in northern Alaska. As seamstress, Jennie earned $25 per month.
In 1914, Jennie and her husband Charles sailed on Mary Sachs to Banks Island
with Wilkins, and established the base camp there. She was a member of that camp
when her husband was lost trying to take supplies and new sleds to Stefansson
in the winter of 1916. Jennie travelled to Victoria Island after that winter and
appears to have also travelled to Melville Island with the Northern Party.
Jennie stayed with the Expedition on Barter Island until the fall of 1918. At
Nome she married Aarnout Castel, whom she had
travelled and worked with during the previous two years. Unfortunately, Jennie,
her daughter Annie and her son, all caught the influenza, and all died in Nome
in 1918 (Jette Ashlee).
Ulipsinna (or Ulipsfink), "one of the Blond Eskimos" from Minto Inlet,
Victoria Island was part of the Polar Bear crew and the northern exploratory
party in 1917. There is no record of wages paid to him, perhaps Stefansson paid
him in cash or goods. This man was perhaps the only local man to work on Melville
Island for Stefansson's Northern Party.
"Stayed in camp. Picallu, Freemen [Alingnak] and a Victoria
Land native arrived from the hunting camp with two loads of meat. Weather clear
and cold. Tem. 54 below zero wind L.B.W." (Karsten Andersen Diary, March
Sarah Kuptanna of Sachs Harbour believes this man, known to
her as Olifie, was a good friend of her Uncle and she tells how stories have survived
that it was through the Expedition that these men first obtained rifles (Sarah
Kuptanna Interview, September 2002, Sachs Harbour).
Unalina, the wife of Ambrose Agnavigak and
sister of Palaiyak, was from Herschel Island.
Wilkins hired Uttaktuak and her husband Peter Lopez at Baillie
Island in 1915 to help with the Northern Party. ".... she will be an additional
help with the sewing." (Wilkins Diary 1915). In the fall and early winter
of 1915 Uttaktuak and Peter were at the Cape Kellett camp with Wilkins.
Wilkins discovered that Uttaktuak was an accomplished artist:
"Sunday, December 5th, 1915. I have given Uktuktowik, Pete's wife, a book
and some coloured pencils. She is extraordinarily fond of drawing, and I would
like to keep the book as a record of her art, which I am bound to add is probably
not inherent but suggested from inspiration from others and from looking at pictures
in books, magazines, etc. I gave her a photograph of a dog to copy. She seems
to have a fairly good anatomical knowledge, or is it judgment or instinct? Questioned
in detail she says she does not reason out the proportions, she just draws them.
Therefore, I think her ability must be attributed to memory" (Wilkins Diary)
So far, there is no trace of the drawings that Uttaktuak made
for Wilkins in 1916, but they may yet be discovered in the archives of the Wilkins
papers at Ohio State University.
While her husband was travelling with the exploration parties
in 1916, she remained at the base camp at Peddie Point, Melville Island. Stefansson
records his pleasure at the work she accomplished: "We arrived at Storkerson's
base camp October 16th, which we found very homelike under the management of Mrs.
Storkerson and Mrs. Lopez. During the summer they had done their full share in
helping dry meat and now they were busy making warm winter clothing and waterproof
summer boots without which our work would be difficult and comfort impossible"
"The women, Uttaktuak (Mrs. Lopes) and Uinirk (Mrs. Storkersen)
have both done much and good work and could not have been much more useful than
was really the case. They have skinned and cut up oxen and done much of the drying
work, besides sewing clothes"
(Stefansson manuscript, The Summer Work in Melville Island, Dartmouth College).
Fred Wolki was from Teller, Alaska, the son of the German/Swiss whaler Fritz
Wolki and Pisuktoak, an Inupiat woman. Wolki was employed by the Canadian
Arctic Expedition from December 1917 to February 1918. He was a member of the
1918 ice party led by Storkersen and volunteered to continue with the drifting
ice party. Storkersen thought he was too young for this trip and he went back
with last support party led by Castel. He was paid $45 a month with a bonus of
$5 per day while on the ice and another bonus of $75 while a member of the support
party. Fred continued to work for the expedition at Barter Island.
In 1924, Fred Wolki was part of the crew on Christian Klengenberg's
schooner Maid of Orleans when Henry Larsen was also on board and RCMP Constable
MacDonald was lost overboard. "Bror [Wiik] remained on deck with Fred Wolkie,
the son of a German whaling skipper, who was at the helm" (Larsen, The
Big Ship, 1967).
Fred Wolki and his family went to Banks Island in about 1929-1931.
He would have known about Banks Island and the fox trapping there through his
association with the men of the Polar Bear and the CAE Northern Party.
They had a camp and house at Blue Fox Harbour, on the west coast of Banks Island.
Fred's wife Susie was from Aklavik and they had a son Roy (David Berhardt interview,
September 2002, Kugluktuk).
Fred died at a relatively young age from tuberculosis. After
his death his widow Susie remarried Peter Sydney. Many interesting photographs
of Fred and his family and their schooner Blue Fox are in the Peter and
Susie Sydney Photograph Collection.