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I am of the opinion that another race besides Eskimos have dwelt in the Arctic regions, and may still live, perhaps, in the interior of the earth. If so, one cannot but think that their civilization was of a low order--if they could be called civilized at all--from the fact that little is or has been found to show that they were skilled in building. If they were at all adept, or had made some slight advance, some of the drift from the Arctic would have shown how far they had progressed. From what Greely discovered, it is safe to conclude that if the interior of the earth be peopled, it is by a race something akin to that now found in the Arctic Circle. Extracts from Greely bearing on this subject will be found hereinafter.
On page 379 he writes that he was greatly surprised to discover, against a vertical bank facing Ruggles River, three abandoned Eskimo huts, which doubtless had been occupied in the far past as permanent abodes. "These houses were built from large, fine pieces of slate, which were readily obtainable from the adjoining rocks. Many pieces of this slate, as large as three feet by two feet, were lying around, the thickness of which varied from three-quarters of an inch to an inch and a half. The Eskimo had utilized the steep precipitous bank against which the back of the houses rested, and in which the chimneys were built. The houses were six feet wide and ten feet long, though possibly they may have been longer, as the walls most distant from the bank had fallen and partly disappeared, through being undermined by the river. The side-walls of the structure were about three feet in height. Apparently the whole house had been covered with large pieces of slate, which served as a roof, for many such pieces were found in the interior space, which was partly filled by them. It is probable that the width of the houses
depended on the size of the pieces of slate which could be used as a covering. No signs of a ridge-pole, or a wooden support to the roof, were to be seen. We carefully removed the flat slabs, and, digging among the dirt and moss, which was of considerable depth, found many relics and bones, which were most numerous near the chimney, or fireplace. Bones of the musk-ox, hare, and of various birds (and at least one kind of fish) were found in great abundance. Among other articles were three combs of walrus ivory, one of which had ornamental work on it, and whalebone fish-hooks, a bone needle, and pieces of whalebone, a shoe for a sledge-runner, and a number of other worked articles of bone and wood, the use of which was unknown. A selection was made from the bones, in order that it might be determined what species of animals had been killed by the Eskimo who had occupied this place. A piece of dog-skin of considerable size was also dug-out, which had rotted to such an extent that it fell to pieces when handled."
Farther on, he says: "In the two houses and in the immediate vicinity we collected about forty pieces of wood and worked bone. Among other articles were one large and two small narwhal horns, two walrus ivory toggles for dog-traces, such as are now used by the Greenlanders; an arrow-head, two bone handles, a skinning-knife with bone handle and iron blade, a bear's tooth, whalebone shoes for the runners of two sledges, and a wooden upstander with a carefully made and well-fitted bone top. Several sledge-bars, some of bone and others of wood, and a complete wooden sledge-runner, which was very heavy, being five feet long, nine inches high, and over two inches thick, were also discovered.
"Among other pieces of wood was a pole, nine feet long, and about two inches in diameter, of a hard, close-grained, coniferous wood, probably fir or hard pine. Parts of two wooden sledge-runners were badly rotted, but one was yet in fair condition.
"There were several articles of worked bone whose use I could not surmise, and the character of which was unknown to our own Eskimo. The bone articles were of walrus, narwhal and whalebone, the first being the predominating material, from which small articles had been made. Musk-ox and hare bones were very plentiful.
"It appears evident, my Journal says, that these Eskimos had dogs, sledges, arrows, and skinning knives, and fed on musk-oxen, seals, hares, and occasionally fish. While this habitation does not appear to have been covered with stones, as were those found by me on the east side of the river, yet the arrangements indicate more than a summer encampment.
"It is more than probable that these habitations were covered with skin roofs, which must have been secured in a different manner from the Greenland method, as no circles of stones were found. The construction of these houses certainly entailed a large amount of work. In quitting them, the roof and its supports must have been entirely removed. It is possible
that the long pole found may have been used in some manner as a support for the roof. It is extraordinary that, in abandoning this country, they should have left behind the pole and the sledges, which were very valuable, unless, indeed, their dogs perished there. The depth at which the dog-toggles and other articles were discovered indicates their having been left by accident where found, as they were covered by debris, which evidently accumulated during the occupancy of these huts.
"The surroundings were carefully examined for graves, as during the occupancy, covering at least two years, of habitations of such size, it was likely some one must have died. No traces of any human remains could be found, nor, indeed, of the dogs; but, in the case of the latter, their uncared-for remains would have been devoured and their bones removed by foxes or wolves. It is pertinent to remark that musk-ox or other expected bones were rarely found in Grinnell Land. Nearly an hour was spent in the examination of these remains, after which we started westward."
On page 420 Greely again writes: "Sergeant Brainard--who seemed intuitively to locate such places--discovered the sites of eighteen Eskimo summer tents, and gathered near them a large number
Sled found by Greely during one of his trips farthest north.
of relics. The circles varied from five to fifteen feet in diameter. There were two upstanders, runners, bone shoes, cross-bars, etc., making a complete sledge; a very large stone (steatite, probably) lamp, fifteen inches across, was broken in five pieces, and had been fastened together by seal thongs. There was also a bone spear-head, and other relics of like material, the use of which was unknown to our Danish Eskimo."
Next: Chapter XV. What Produces Colored Snow in the Arctic?