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The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab

Text and Context

Hartmut Lutz Editor and Head Translator, Alootook Ipellie Foreword and Cover Art, Hans-Ludwig Blohm Photos

Publication Year: 2005

In August 1880, businessman Adrian Jakobsen convinced eight Inuit men, women, and children from Hebron and Nakvak, Labrador to accompany him to Europe to be "exhibited" in zoos and Völkerschauen (ethnographic shows). Abraham, Maria, Noggasak, Paingo, Sara, Terrianiak, Tobias, and Ulrike agreed, partly for the money and partly out of curiosity to see the wonders of Europe, which they had heard about from Moravian missionaries.

The Inuit arrived in the fall of 1880 and were much talked and written about in the local press. Meanwhile, the Moravian missionaries, who had begged them not to embark on the journey, were busily writing letters and trying to stay in contact with Abraham and his family. By January 1881 all eight Inuit had died of smallpox.

This story is told through several different perspectives, from Abraham's diary, the earliest known Inuit autobiography, and the missionaries’ letters and reports, to a scholarly article, newspaper pieces, and even advertising. Many illustrations, including portraits done of the Inuit visitors, scans of some of the original documents in German, and recent photos of the abandoned Moravian mission in Hebron, round out Abraham’s intriguing and unfortunate story.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

AT THE END OF January 1992, lyola Kingwatsiak, an Inuk carver from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, was invited to participate in the Conference on Inuit Art held at the McMichael Canadian Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario. ...

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pp. ix-xvi

(EVEN) SMALL BOOKS HAVE their fates or histories, so I would like to share the "fateful" stories that went into the production of this little book, in order to acknowledge and thank those who helped to make it a reality. ...

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pp. xvii-xxvi

ON AUGUST STH 1880, the schooner Eisb


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pp. xxvii

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Abraham's Diaries and Letters/Moravian Letters and Documents

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pp. 3-13

I write to you, because I'd like to tell you the following. We are greatly sad. When they brought me to Europe, I probably totally ignored it at first, but then I prayed to the Lord continuously that He might teach me, if it really was a mistake, because I believe in all His words. But because I was in deep misery, ...

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Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung

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pp. 14-21

The Eskimos started their show on Sunday in the Zoologischer Garten to massive applause from an audience of almost 7000. The most interesting part of the show is probably the seal hunt. In it, Tobias plays the seal to be hunted, wrapped in furs. As soon as Tareganiak spots him, he drops to the ground, imitating the sound of a seal, ...

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Magdeburgische Zeitung

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pp. 22-35

And thus we have arrived at a point which, however, does not reside within the field of anthropology proper - which has received so much attention recently, and which, of course, means "knowledge about the human" in German - but which, seen from another angle, may well belong to this new field of knowledge after all. ...

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Neue Preussische Zeitung

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pp. 36-45

Berlin. In the Zoologischer Garten Abraham Paulus of the Eskimos especially draws the attention of the visitors. He is seen as the most educated of his fellows. Shortly before his departure to Europe he mapped the coastline of Labrador with its many bays and courses of rivers upon his own journeys. ...

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Frankfurter Nachrichten

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pp. 46-56

December 3, 1880. In the night from Nov. 30th to Dec. 1st, our city received a rare as well as interesting increase in population, namely two Eskimo families, eight heads altogether. The high ladies and gentlemen, or rather the ladies and gentlemen coming from high up north arrived just in time to be included in the census. ...

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"Eskimos at the Berlin Zoo"

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pp. 57-66

Although coming from the same area in Labrador, which is situated on almost the same latitude as the southern tip of Greenland, the Eskimos we are dealing with can be said to be comprised of two groups or families. They belong to coherent groups who differ not only in their religion ...

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Appendix A: Abraham's Diary and Inuit Autobiography

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pp. 67-74

IN OUR OWN translation (into English) of Kretschmer's translation (from Inuktitut into German) of Abraham's diary, we tried to keep the awkward and grammatically flawed style of Kretschmer's text. We do not know whether Kretschmer's "incompetent" style is the result of a hasty translation, ...

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Appendix B: German Contexts

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pp. 75-86

ABRAHAM'S SHORT DIARY and two letters provide subjective and necessarily limited accounts of the journey but cannot convey an idea of the complicated processes involved in bringing over the Inuit group, nor of what happened before and after their visit. As further textual sources to consult ...

Appendix C: Moravian Mission in Hebron, 2002

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pp. 87-96


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pp. 97-98

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About the Authors

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pp. 99-100

Haittnut Lutz chairs American and Canadian Studies at the University of Greifswald, Germany, and has received several awards, including a Harris Chair at Dartmouth College and the John G. Diefenfeaker Award, which brought him to the University of Ottawa in 2004 for a year-long study leave. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780776617084
E-ISBN-10: 0776617087
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776606026
Print-ISBN-10: 0776606026

Page Count: 120
Publication Year: 2005