p. 360, on the Chipewyans on Athabaska Lake: It is headquarters of one of the four districts into which this vast fur-bearing land of one million square miles is divided by the Hudson Bay Company; the chief forwarding point for the merchandise which the company sends in for trade, and the fur the Indians send out as pay; a general distributing post-office of the four yearly mails which reach this land, where man is but a mere track upon the snow, and not above one hundred of the roughly approximated ten thousand read English writing. It is the most important North-land mission of the Roman Catholic Oblates Fathers, and it is practically the northern boundary of the Cree and the southern boundary of the Montagnaise Indian family, which in its various branches spreads toward the Arctic Ocean.
… Those that live within the company’s gates are chiefly half-breeds. In summer they catch and dry the fish which forms the chief article of food for men and dogs, or work on the company flat-boats: and in winter they spend the short days in “tripping,” and the long nights in smoking and talking about their dogs, or in dancing and sleeping. They have no other diversions; no indoor games, no out-door sports. Dancing
and sleeping are the beginning and ending of their recreation, and I would not venture an opinion as to the more popular; certainly they have an abnormal capacity for either.
p. 364-65: In spring it is daylight long before you start at six, and long after you camp at eight; in fact, in May I wrote in my note book frequently at ten, and it was not really dark at midnight. In midsummer there is no night, and in midwinter the short days are of slight significance to the tripper, because the moon equalizes matters by shining full throughout the period in which the sun shines least….
As to philological differences, they are too intricate to understand without long study, and too many for exploitation here. It will answer our purpose to know that the Cree nation is one of the largest of the Lenni-Lennappe family, itself the most widely distributed of the three great divisions—Floridean, Iroquois, and Lenni- Lennappe. The Cree is really a plains Indian, and as such superior to the few of the family in the North-land who are called Wood Cree. The Tené, or Montagnaise, is the great nation which spreads between the Rocky Mountains and Hudson Bay, and extends in its various tribes and dialects down to the arctic. Of these tribes the chief are Chipewyan, Yellow Knives, Dog-Ribs, Slaveys, Hare, Caribou-Eaters, whose language has mere dialectic differences.
Then there are the Loucheux, on the Mackenzie River, which have a more distinct tongue, sharper features, almond-shaped
eyes, and are the most intelligent and thrifty Indians in the country; and the Eskimo, that never hunt more than a hundred miles south of the arctic coast, have their own variation of the Eskimo speech, and notably enough, average of greater stature than is commonly believed of this people.
p. 497-98: Personally I acknowledge I prefer the Indians to the half-breeds…, as a rule, the half-breeds are less intolerable than the Indians. And that is saying a great deal. It is a question of two evils. One would repent of either choice. Both in general are untrustworthy, avaricious, and uncleanly, but the half-breed is nearer the white man in the viciousness of his hypocrisy. The white blood in his veins comes from the lowest strains, and has given him the cunning of a higher intelligence without; importing the better attributes of the more civilized prototype. It is much easier for a civilized man to become savage than for a savage to become civilized.
p. 720-21: Even though by some transcendent and providential means I should be given plenty to eat not anything could induce
me to again visit the Barrens and witness the sufferings of those poor dumb brutes. Only for one period (I think, though not absolutely certain, because I was too cold and miserable to write in my note-book every day, and must depend largely on memory) of three days on the trip did they go entirely without meat. At all others they had a little, just a mouthful, when we camped by a good killing of musk-ox, and they they fared sumptuously.
But they were half famished practically all the time, and my conscience smote me sorely as I noted their glaring eyes and tucked-up stomachs, and realized that my thirst for adventure was the cause of it all.