|The Eskimo Twins|
|by Lucy Fitch Perkins|
|Share the adventures of Menie and Monnie, 5 year-old twins in an Eskimo village, where the villagers have to provide for all their own needs. Their father, Kesshoo, is a brave fisherman and strong hunter and their mother Koolee is clever in making clothing and shoes out of the skins of the animals which he brings home. We watch the twins as they spot a polar bear while coasting on their sleds, then join with the villagers in the sharing of the meat and the feasting afterwards. Among the other activities they enjoy are ice fishing, building a snow house, hunting for seals, and traveling by boat to their summering ground where they catch salmon to dry for the winter. Children are captivated by the humor and playfulness in this community where the winter night lasts for four long months! Ages 6-8 |
KOOLEE DIVIDES THE MEAT
HE first thing that was done after they got the sledge back to
the village was to feed the dogs. The dogs were very hungry; they
had smelled the fresh meat for a long time without so much as a
bite of it, and they had had nothing to eat for two whole days.
They jumped about and howled again and got their harnesses
Kesshoo unharnessed them and gave them some bones, and while they
were crunching them and quarreling among themselves, Koolee
crawled into the igloo and brought out a bowl. The bowl was made
of a hollowed-out stone, and it had water in it.
"This is for a charm," said Koolee. "If you each take a sip of
water from this bowl
 my son will always have good luck in spying
She passed the bowl around, and each person took a sip of the
water. When Menie's turn came he took a big, big mouthful,
because he wanted to be very brave, indeed, and find a bear every
week. But he was in too much of a hurry. The water went down his
"Sunday-throat" and choked him! He coughed and strangled and his
face. grew red. Koolee thumped him on the back.
"That's a poor beginning for a great bear-hunter," she said.
Everybody laughed at Menie. Menie hated to be laughed at. He went
away and found Nip and Tup. They wouldn't laugh at him, he knew.
He thought he liked dogs better than people anyway.
Nip and Tup were trying to get their noses into the circle with
the other dogs, but the big dogs snapped at them and drove them
away, so Menie got some scraps and fed them.
Meanwhile Koolee stood by the sledge
 and divided the meat among
her neighbors. First she gave one of the hind legs to the wives
of the Angakok, because he always had to have the best of
everything. She gave the kidneys to Koko's mother. To each one
she gave just the part she had asked for. When each woman had
been given her share, Kesshoo took what was left and put it on
The storehouse wasn't really a house at all. It was just a great
stone platform standing up on legs, like a giant's table. The
meat was placed on the top of it, so the dogs could not reach it,
no matter how high they jumped.
When the rest of the meat was taken care of, Koolee took the
bear's head and carried it into the igloo.
All the people followed her. Then Koolee did a queer thing. She
placed the head on a bench, with the nose pointing toward the Big
Rock, because the bear had come from that direction. Then she
stopped up the nostrils with moss and grease. She greased the
bear's mouth, too.
"Bears like grease," she said. "And if I stop up his nose like
that bears will never be able to smell anything. Then the hunters
can get near and kill them before they know it." You see Koolee
was a great believer in signs and in magic. All the other people
She called to the twins, "Come here, Menie and Monnie."
The twins had come in with the others, but they were so short
they were out of sight in the crowd. They crawled under the
elbows of the grown people and stood beside Koolee.
 "Look, children," she said to them, "your grandfather, who is
dead, sent you this bear. He wants you to send him something. In
five days the bear's spirit will go to the land where your
grandfather's spirit lives. What would you like to have the
bear's spirit take to your grandfather for a gift?"
"I'll send him the little fish that father carved for me out of
bone," said Menie. He squirmed through the crowd and got it from
a corner of his bed and brought it to his mother. She put it on
the bear's head.
Monnie gave her a leather string with a lucky stone tied to it.
Koolee put that on the bear's head too.
Then she said, "There! In five days' time the bear's spirit will
give the shadows of these things to your grandfather. Then we can
eat the head, but not until we are sure the bear's spirit has
reached the home of the Dead."
"That is well," the Angakok said to the twins, when Koolee had
finished. "Your grandfather will be pleased with your
 presents, I
know. Your grandfather was a just man. I knew him well. He always
paid great respect to Me. Whenever he brought a bear home he
gave me not only a hind leg, but the liver as well! I should not
be surprised if he sent the bear this way, knowing how fond I am
of bear's liver."
The Angakok placed his hand on his stomach and rolled up his
eyes. "But times are not what they once were," he went on.
"People care now only for their own stomachs! They would rather
have the liver themselves than give it to the Angakok! They will
be sorry when it is too late."
He shook his head and heaved a great
sigh. Koolee looked at Kesshoo. She was
very anxious. Kesshoo went out at once
to the storehouse. He climbed to the top
and got the liver.
By this time all the people had crawled out of the igloo again,
and were ready to carry home their meat. Kesshoo ran to the
Angakok and gave him the bear's liver. The Angakok handed it to
one of his wives
 to carry. The other one already had the bear's
leg. He said to Kesshoo, "You are a just man, like your father. I
know the secrets of the sun, moon, and stars. You know your duty!
You shall have your reward." He looked very solemn and waddled
away toward his igloo with the two wives behind him carrying the
meat. All the rest of the people followed after him and went into
their own igloos.
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