Esquimaux in NYCity; was Munchausen

Susan Burt smburt at ILSTU.EDU
Thu Mar 1 00:13:11 UTC 2007

I think the film to add to Arnold's narrative is "Nanuk of the North."
I remember seeing it as an anthropology undergraduate.


On Feb 28, 2007, at 6:01 PM, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Esquimaux in NYCity; was Munchausen
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> On Feb 28, 2007, at 2:28 PM, George Thompson wrote:
>> There was a controversy in the late 1810s when a family of Eskimos
>> were
>> brought to NYC by the captain of a whaling ship.  They were exhibited,
>> and the man demonstrated the use of a kayak in the harbor.  Questions
>> were raised as to whether they had come voluntarily; the debate was
>> curtailed, if I recall, by the captain leaving the city with them.  I
>> also have a note on performing Eskimos in London, not the same family.
> there's a long history of "exotic" animals -- giraffes, kangaroos,
> etc. -- being exhibited for the public in the west.  eventually we
> get the mass-market version, the movie King Kong (1933), featuring a
> gorilla.
> over the same period, human beings were exhibited in much the same
> way -- individual Native Americans and Africans in the days of
> exploration, eventually family groups (for instance, as at the 1893
> World's Fair -- the Columbian Exposition -- in Chicago; see Kurt
> Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle for a transposed version of these exhibits).
> such exhibits were a regular feature of traveling fairs and circuses.
> eventually we get to stories like Ishi's (Theodora Kroeber, Ishi in
> Two Worlds, 1963) and Minik's (Kenn Harper, Give Me My Father's Body,
> 2000).  and the Ainu continue, i am told, to be, essentially, on
> exhibit in Hokkaido.
> i very much hope that someone has put these stories together into a
> larger narrative.  if so, i'd like to hear about it.  (i'm perfectly
> capable  of thinking like a humanities scholar, but unfortunately i
> don't know the literature.)
> arnold
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