Arctic Odyssey: The Life of Rear Admiral Donald B. MacMillan.

A young-adult hagiography of MacMillan with some interesting insights.

p. 114, at the end of Peary’s 1909 North Pole trip MacMillan went to Fort Conger and spent some time in Greely’s house where he found a Greely note on the floor of the living room and the following: A book lay on a small table, thick with dust. On the flyleaf, written in a boyish hand, it read: “To my dear father. From his affectionate son, Harry Kislingbury. May God be with you and return you safely to us.” MacMillan took the book and eventually returned it to the son.

p. 139-40, in 1910 MacMillan met an Eskimo family near Nain in Labrador with whom he compared notes on Inuit books: They were a friendly family and the little girl showed him her books, including “Kristib Nipliajorutinga Nutaungitok” (Christy’s Old Organ), a volume printed by the Moravian Church, and “Takkorngartaub Arvertarninga” (John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress).

In the evening the father handed MacMillan an Eskimo Bible, opened to the fourth chapter of St. Mark, and read to him, pointed out the words with his finger, [long Eskimo quote] which is to say, “And he began to teach by the seaside, and there was gathered unto Him a multitude, so that He entered into the ship, and sat on the sea, and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.”

Then the mother sat down at the little organ and their three voices blended in Eskimo, singing, “God be with you till we meet again.” All this in a small cotton tent, by the descendants of a once-savage hoard of which both English and French fisherman had been mortally afraid. But since the day when the Moravian missionaries held out their hands to the natives of Labrador, saying “We are your friends,” life has been safe there.

p. 156, in 1912 on a summer trip to Labrador: They [MacMillan and Jot] headed next for the Moravian mission at Hopedale, called Aivilik (whaling place) by the Eskimos, arriving on a Saturday in time for church service, for devotions are Saturday evening and twice on Sunday. The church organ was played by an Eskimo, and the congregation sang the hymns with obvious pleasure, many of them in four-part harmony. One of the hymns contained in the book they were using referred to “Guduvaptingnepok” … and “Heilig, heilig, heilig, engelingiy imgerput.” The use of the German words for God and “Holy, holy, holy,” interspersed with the Eskimo, indicates that the Eskimo language contains no equivalents for these….

p. 157: The Lord’s Prayer was somewhat easier for Dan, although there is an interesting idiom in the Eskimo version. When the Moravians first arrived in Labrador, they failed to find a word for “bread” in the passage reading “Give us this day our daily bread.” The Eskimos had never had or known bread; they had no word for it. Thus some important article of food must be substituted, so that the essential meaning of the prayer would be clear. As agreed upon by the original Christianized Eskimos, the word must be pipsit, dried trout, found in nearly every Eskimo home.