Eskimo Folk-Tales from Alaska Author:C. E. Gillham These stories about the Medicine Men, or Shamans, of the Eskimo are true, although some small liberties have been taken in translating the originals into the English language. When the author, a biologist, lived in Alaska he gathered a wide experience of the Eskimos within reach of that part of Alaska, and not to be confused with the Eskimos of ... more »the Eastern Arctic.
For centuries the Eskimos lived alone on the Bering Sea in Alaska, cut off from the outside world by ice, mountains, and snow. Only recently [prior to 1955] have traders, churches, and schools come to them with the civilization of the white man.
They had no doctors to care for their ills and injuries. Instead, they had Medicine Men, or Shamans, who, they believed, were all powerful. In addition to healing ceremonies, Medicine Men would also often hold ceremonies to bring the all-important fish and seals necessary for life in this region close to the shore for hunting.
Along the coast of the Bering, Eskimo hunters traveled from village to village since ancient times. They usually stopped as long as they were welcome, staying in the Kashim, or Man House as it is sometimes called. Their price of admission was usually a good story. No doubt many of the yarns were based on imagination only, and their retelling gathered colour as other hunters ventured further along the coast to visit other neighbors.« less