Author: Lawrence Millman

Publisher: St. Martins Press

ISBN:  978-0-250-11140-1

Lawrence Millman, author of At The End of The World, has penned fifteen prior books. (2018, inside back cover) He is a self-professed lover of all things Northern and a savorer of mushrooms. He resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This book opens up in Canada’s Hudson Bay in 1941, but moves forward to today. Millman flew from Boston to Montreal and onward to Kuujuarapik located in Northern Quebec, then on to the Belcher Islands located on Eastern Hudson Bay to speak to and learn about the Iniut’s. Millman takes his notebooks and pencils instead of his laptop to write down his thoughts and adventures in learning about 1941. There was a murder, but what precipitated that to occur?

Millman describes the Inuit and their white visitors, the qallunaat as he endeavors to gain the trust and learn the story behind this murder. History, what little there is of it for this remote locale, helps him to discover what times were like back then. Definitely not easy to tease out of the people who reside there.

The Inuit have a language all their own. It is called Inuktitut. Supposedly the movie Nanook of the North was about a man from this remote area by the name of Peter. It was set out to be a documentary, but all of the film footage was lost. Peter was the best hunter and ice navigator and the tallest man in these parts. Thus he got a lot of respect from the Inuit people. He believed he was God.

Millman describes the weather as “…wind whistling at 50-60 mph. …Such windstorms , blowing west to east, can last for days, occasionally even weeks in Hudson Bay.” (2018, p.22) Millman’s tent is flattened, but he manages to resurrect it.

The Inuit have three sky dwellers; thunder, rain, and lightning. “The thunder maker was called Kadlu or Big Noise, lightning named Kweetoo or She Who Strikes Fire, and rain was relegated to Ignirtoq or She Who Pisses a Lot.” (2018, p.28)

It was generally acceptable to believe that certain Inuit people could raise the dead. They were called Angakut. Some believed they were Jesus Christ too. Back in 1924 Ouyerack stated such on Baffin Island. He believed that the only way his followers could get to heaven was to starve themselves to death. (paraphrase, 2018, p.30) Ouyerack took the name of Neakoteah and he threatened to kill anyone who refused to starve themselves to death for his heaven.  After a period of time someone shot him and he died.

There were many customs they (the Inuit) adopted and several were contrary to reality as we know it. For examples, it was accepted once Peter stated it was fact that the sled dogs were Satan. As such they were slain.  Another fantastical belief was that hair was hold them back from flying and reaching heaven so they shaved their heads.

This book was fascinating from a variety of perspectives and it was based on a true story. I enjoyed it and I believe you will too!