The Eskimo of Baffin Land and Hudson Bay….

Boas’s work says nothing about Inuit reading but is included here for his lengthy accounts of oral tales from Cumberland Sound (81) and from the West Coast of Hudson Bay (30). Here is one brief example chosen at random:

p. 202-03: [Stories about Dwarfs.] An old woman and her grandson were living all alone. Their people had deserted them. They were staying in a small side room of a large hut. In the evening a number of dwarfs arrived. They entered at the door, and when they did not see a light, they thought that the house was deserted. They brought in the walrus-meat that they had on their sledge, made their beds, and went to sleep.

The old woman heard the dwarfs talking, and finally noticed that they had become quiet. Then she said to her grandson, “Go into the porch, where they have their meat. Touch your tongue, and draw your finger along the meat where it lies on the ground, touching both the meat and the ground, and be careful not to make any noise.” The boy did so, and then crawled back to his grandmother.

The dwarfs were up again with the dawn, and prepared to depart. While the man was getting the sledge ready, his wife was taking the meat out of the porch. She found that one of the pieces of meat was very heavy, so that she could not lift it. She shouted to her husband, “Yesterday it was not heavy, but now I cannot lift it.” Her husband retorted, “Then leave it here," and they went off. The old woman and the boy were now supplied with food enough to keep them for a long time.

(According to the version recorded by Rev. E. J. Peck, this story runs as follows: An old woman and a boy were left in a house. A dwarf arrived, carrying some bags of meat, and said, "Is any one here? I wonder if there is a person here that is asleep." While the dwarf was asleep, the old woman said to her grandson, "Grandson, spit upon one of his bags." The boy spat upon a bag. When the dwarf awoke, he tried to take the bag away, but it stuck to the ground. Then the dwarf said, "One of my bags is fast. This is the case, for I thought there was a person here. But, never mind, take it!" Then he went out.)