Monday, Apr. 05, 2004 - 7:28 p.m.
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Peering at the Pearys
Today, doing research for my new Far North book... yeah right, I have done more than enough research, I am procrastinating. Don't know why since the thumbnails are so close to the final sketches there isn't all that much actual drawing to do.
... anyways I lost my original sentence, which was ... "Today, doing research...." I read a page about Peary, the explorer,'s wife Josephine and her encounters with the Inuit. Apparently one woman was crying and leaving the room when she asked if she had other children or "just those three", since the woman had just strangled her two year old, and was quite choked up about it. As another Inuit woman explained, she had to do it, since the child's father had died, and no man would take a woman who had a child still young enough to be carried around. Apparently the women had to do that all the time. To get a new man so that the other kids would be provided for.
(Imagine of course that it is a culture where it is only the men who do the hunting. What does a mother of four who is widowed do for a living??)
That is pretty funky. Apparently it was not nice to talk about kids with someone who just had to kill one of her own. Hmm.
The other thing I learned is that the Inuit were absolutely tiny. The men were barely five feet two, women under five feet. Mrs. Peary looks like a giant.
Her husband took an Inuit wife while she was back in the States, and had a couple kids.
I wonder if she knew about them when she decided to come up North?
Ah, ah, for the times of no email, no telephone, no television cameras and paperazzi following around explorers.
Besides a few indiscretions of the amourous sort, Mr. Peary did a few not so nice things, including selling the bones of one of his Inuit friends, who died of southern bugs within months of the start of a Peary publicity campaign back in the states. The poor man, one of six invited by Peary to come to New York, was sold to a museum. Later, another of the six,young Minik, was in a museum and saw the bones of his father, well-labelled with his full name and all, exposed behind glass. Interestingly Mr. Peary had not made mention of this, despite knowing that Minik had been desperately searching for his disappeared dad. Nice guy Mr. Peary. There was a scandal, with nasty newspaper cartoons drawn, but Mr. Peary shrugged it off, and shipped the son back to Greenland. Again, yay for no videophones.
Mrs. Josephine Peary was a nice Christian woman who had the Inuit do sewing for her etc, but she noted that they were dirty, bizarre, more monkeys than humans, in her diary. Hmm.
Here is a letter from him to her, where he says that this time they have fewer Inuit "men women and children" aboard their boat "owing to a more careful selection as to children". I wonder what that means? Maybe he asked a few more mothers to strangle some?
Here's an interesting webpage that speaks a bit about Admiral Peary, as well as his black co-explorer, Matthew Henson, who wasn't actually honored as a co-explorer, and had his grave moved, until 1988. They both had Inuit wives and sons. The page very interesting contrasts the personalities of Mr. Peary, who held himself aloof from the Inuit, and Henson, who made friends with them, learned survival skills, and many things that made the "North Pole" mission possible.
Well, I am running all over the place in weird unfocussed tangents about these people, so I will walk the dog. In the last bits of snow.
Much to think about.
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Goodbye Michael. May your next life be kinder to you. - Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009
*inspired by Chaosdaily