Volume 18 Number 2, 1993


Robin McGrath

In recent years, Samuel Hearne's A Journey From Prince of Wales Fort to the Northern Ocean has been the subject of considerable academic disagreement. AJ.M. Smith has called the work "a classic of English prose" (Smith 53), and Maurice Hodgeson has said it exemplifies "the best characteristics in the genre of travel literature" (Hodgeson 40), claims denied by Dermot McCarthy who insists that Hearne is "a clumsy and humourless writer, with a meagre vocabulary and an unstinting inability to extend himself beyond his immediate sensory experience" (McCarthy 153). Even Hearne's most negative critics, however, cannot deny the impact that Hearne's work, particularly his description of the massacre of the Inuit at Bloody Fall, has had on Canadian literature as a whole. Hearne's trip to Bloody Fall is a descent into the heart of darkness, a confrontation with all that supposedly civilized European man feared in the new world.

Although Hearne's account of the massacre has been subject to intense scrutiny by literary critics and historians, and we have given considerable attention to works by modern authors such as Newlove and Gutteridge who draw on the Hearne material, very little effort has been made to examine the incident through other sources. It has generally been accepted that Hearne imposed a literary structure on his account of Bloody Fall, but an examination of Inuit sources suggests that Inuit storytellers also shaped their accounts for their listeners. This paper will look first at the published and unpublished accounts of the massacre written by Hearne himself, and will then consider Copper Inuit oral history regarding massacres of Inuit by Indians at Bloody Fall and elsewhere, in an attempt to confirm or disprove Hearne's version of events.

While most readers probably cannot recall the exact details of Hearne's published account of the massacre, they tend to remember the general tenor of the thing--the cautious approach up the river, the preparations for the attack, and the early morning ambush of the sleeping Inuit. Hearne's frustration and fear turn to horror and grief as he finds himself in the midst of the carnage, and when a naked young woman twines around his legs like an eel, he finds himself pleading first for her life and then for her death. The obscene taunts of her murderers seem even more grotesque when the Indians turn their attention to an elderly woman who is fishing by the Fall--blinded by disease and deafened by the noise of the water, she does not realize what is happening, and continues jigging char until it is her turn, when she is deliberately wounded in such a manner as to cause agony but to delay death.

The Stowe manuscript, on which Hearne based his published account, is significantly different. Hearne devotes about twenty lines to the approach and preparation for the attack, and about 20 more to the massacre itself, but except for the use of the word "cruel" with reference to the killings, there is no suggestion of moral judgement at all. The published account implies that all the victims were dispatched with spears, and that their cries were drowned out by the noise of the cataracts, but in the Stowe manuscript Hearne says that before the ambush he lent his gun to Matonabbee, who offered him a brace of pistols in return. When they discharged their firearms in their attack upon the five tents on the west bank, it warned those in the seven tents on the east bank "who immediately embarked in their little Canoes & flew to an island in the river about 160 yards from the Tents." In Journey to the Northern Ocean, there is little emphasis on survivors, but the manuscript confirms that all but one man on the east bank escaped. In the manuscript, there are no individuals, just twenty-two dead, undifferentiated Inuit, and one man who, in Hearne's somewhat callous words, was shot "thro' the calf of his leg which only served to freshen his way." There is no pathos, no pity, no grief, no regret, no naked young girl, no blind old woman, but more surprising perhaps there is no waterfall. Hearne refers only to "the clifts of rocks at the back of which were the Esquimaux tents distant about 11/2 mile." He makes no actual reference to the Fall itself, even though it is arguably the most impressive and significant geographical feature on the whole long, arduous journey.

A sceptical reading of the Stowe manuscript opens up a number of possibilities. Hearne might have relocated the massacre site from an unknown camp to the Fall because it was a more dramatically significant place; the murders may have happened further down towards the mouth of the river, or deeper inland toward the Dismal Lakes where the Inuit went to hunt caribou. Perhaps Hearne wasn't present at the massacre, or perhaps there had been no massacre at all. Alternately, his flat, brief, incomplete journal entry may have been a product of shock and exhaustion, and his elaborately constructed, overwrought published account reflects a genuine response to a terrible event.

Other than Hearne's unpublished journal and his published account of the massacre at Bloody Fall, there is no substantiated Inuit, European, or Indian documentation or evidence of the massacre having taken place. Sir John Franklin, in his Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, reports seeing "several human skulls which bore marks of violence, and many human bones" (349-50) at Bloody Fall, but this is unlikely. As Denis St-Onge points out, the skulls and bones in the foreground of Back's sketch of Bloody Fall are "a product of his imagination." St-Onge's argument is that not only is the actual site a kilometer away from where Back located it, but ground squirrels and other animals would have disposed of the bones many years before (St-Onge 31). In fact, human skulls are far too awkward and heavy for ground squirrels and such to carry off, as is evident from the relative frequency with which they are to be found in tent rings on the Arctic coast. However, the nature of the river itself is such that regardless of whether the site was on the willow flats as Back suggests, or a kilometer downriver where St-Onge locates it, the bones would probably not have survived.

The narrowness of the river at Bloody Fall means that broken ice tends to block the channel in spring, causing significant amounts of water to back up behind the rapids. Moderate flooding occurs at least once every year, and water survey experts anticipate massive flooding at least once every fifty years. Spring flooding in 1983, for example, raised the water level behind the Fall by 85 feet, creating an enormous lake there (Whittaker). When the water broke through, it scoured the lower river banks and completely washed away summer cabins, as well as debris from camp sites, for miles downriver. The chances of human remains in or below the Fall canyon lasting fifty years beyond Hearne's time are slim. Moreover, there is no mention of any human remains at all in the reports of archaeological excavations done at Bloody Fall, although nine different areas were investigated on the west bank where the primary attack was supposed to have occurred, including the Sandwillow Site which local Inuit identify as the traditional camp site on the west bank McGhee).

One thing that is clear from Hearne's journal entry is that the helpless, hopeless, victimized Copper Inuit who were all slaughtered at Bloody Fall never really existed. Some were helpless and some were slaughtered, but many of them escaped and would have been more than ready to take their revenge upon Matonabbee and Hearne and all their companions. Knud Rasmussen claimed that the Copper Inuit he encountered in the 1920s seemed "to live on a constant war footing with all strangers" (10) and when he and H. Clarke visited a camp of fifteen families on the east side of Coronation Gulf, they "found as a result that there was not a single grown man who had not been involved in a killing in some way or another" (17). Rasmussen was only counting Inuit who had killed Inuit. The Copper Inuit Hearne encountered were probably just as capable as Matonabbee's men of ambushing and slaughtering sleeping people from outside the tribe. From the 18th century on, Inuit were often depicted as passive and docile, but as Ann Fienup-Riordan reminds us, "People who knew them well knew otherwise but did not always choose to advertise their knowledge" (148). She mentions, for example, the 19th century Moravian missionary John Kilbuck, who consigned his accounts of the bloody Yupik Eskimo wars to "a bread box in a Kansas bank vault" while stressing the Christian character of his converts in his publications. Hearne may very well have had knowledge of provocation, resistance, or retaliation on the part of the Inuit who were attacked at Bloody Fall, but chose to ignore or suppress such information.

It is generally recognized that Hearne, like many other nonnative explorers, aided in the construction of the contrasting images of the violent, savage (male) Indian and the peaceful, sensuous (female) Eskimo. Nevertheless, most readers still subscribe to the idea that those who had been murdered were entirely blameless and therefore inherently superior to those who did the murdering. It is possible, though, that the Inuit did not merely suffer the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Inuit who were killed by the Chipewyans in 1771 might have usurped the area for their own use at the wrong season, and the attack Hearne witnessed may well have been a counter attack or retaliation. The archaeological reports of excavations at Bloody Fall show extensive prehistoric occupation of the site by Athapaskan Indians, and a complete absence of Dorset Inuit material, which suggests that Inuit use of the Fall area was intermittent until relatively recently.

Attacks upon Inuit by Indians were not rare. John Richardson reports that in 1847, three Eskimos were killed at Fort MacPherson because, he surmises, "the visitors had bypassed the Indian middleman and sought to deal directly with the [North West] Company" (Honigmann 23). In July of 1850 four to six Inuit were ambushed and murdered by Kutchin Indians at the Mackenzie River, apparently a separate incident; there were two white men present, one of whom was said to have participated in the killings. According to Shepherd Krech, "In the sixty-year period from Mackenzie's voyage in 1789 until the massacre in 1850, the Kutchin and Inuit fought at least twelve times" (56).

Although raiding for women was common (Pedersen 1991), most conflict between Indians and Inuit tended to have an economic basis, since the Indians dealt directly with the white traders and then traded again, often for outrageous profits, to the Inuit. It was in the Indians' best interest to convince the traders that the Inuit were too treacherous and murderous to be trusted in direct trading. John and Irma Honigmann report that "Fort MacPherson Indians have orally perpetuated a tradition of 'war' between the Indians and Eskimo. On one occasion, following the onset of the fur trade, a quarrel between children precipitated bad relations between the groups who previously got along peacefully. According to [their informant] James Koe, possession of guns enabled Indians to defend themselves and gave them an advantage that the Eskimo was smart enough to recognize they couldn't overcome" (Honigmann 24).

The 1771 massacre at Bloody Fall was just one of a series of such encounters. What made Hearne's massacre different was that he was not only present, but he also wrote about it. An event that was an unfortunate but undistinguished part of Inuit oral history was a unique part of the non-Inuit literary tradition, unusual enough to be read, and reread, plagiarized and anthologized, deconstructed and reconstructed. But if Hearne shaped the events at Bloody Fall to fit the expectations of his readers, Inuit story-tellers also shaped their accounts to fit the expectations of their listeners.

Copper Inuit storytellers identify two separate massacre stories, one of which is called the Navarana story, and another which shares certain elements with it but is essentially different. I will look at the Navarana story first. Navarana is not a common name around Coppermine, but it is well known in Greenland. There is a series of famous paintings by Aron of Kangek of the death of Navarana, and Aron's legend, which he wrote to explain the paintings, is called "About the Greenlanders' First Meeting With the Ancient Norsemen." Eigel Knuth edited Aron's work for publication, and he wrote as follows:

In the case of the Eskimo sagas, the very ancient traditions about enmity between "Inland Dwellers" in Canada were brought to Greenland and there changed to apply to the differences with the Norsemen, "kavdlunat," who led a kind of inland existence at the heads of fiords. In Aron's text and pictures the episode with the Eskimo girl, NavaranaK, can be mentioned as an example. The person is known from countless stories over large parts of Canada, where she goes to stay with the Indians, and by her slander incites them against the Eskimo, until at last they punish her in the most terrible manner.     Later additions to the Eskimo sagas disclose themselves by their transformation to the area where the narrator belongs, so that the same events take place sometimes in the Godthaab , and sometimes in the Julianehaab, fiords, the place merely being altered. But behind all the blending with older myths, the details of both sagas and Eskimo legends disclose things which must be regarded as survivals of historical truths. (Knuth 24)

Knuth suggests that the names of the chiefs of the Norsemen, OlavarssyaK [Big Olaf] and UngortoK, refer to actual persons, and the battle-axe that is a constant feature of the legends is also a specific reference to the Norse.

The Coppermine version of the Navarana story, as told to the Inuit musician Colin Adjun by his grandfather, is said to have occurred in the last century off Cape Kendall. He does not name the woman, nor does he include the Inuit revenge against her, but it is undoubtedly the Navarana story. According to Adjun, a group of men were out on the sea ice, seal hunting, when a party of Indians, led by an Inuk who "got mixed up with (i.e. married) an Indian," slaughtered the women and children who were camped on Kigirktaujuk Island. When the men returned, they found their families dead, and began to track the murderers inland. The journey was difficult as the trail was fast being erased, but one man who had lost his wife was very persistent and they finally managed to catch up with the group. The Indians had stopped east of Cox Lake, between the Richardson and Rae rivers, and were having a dance. The Inuit built a second snow house over them, cut a hole in the top, and killed them with their own spears. Only one man escaped, a white man who magically flew out of the top of the igloo and up over a cliff which is now known as Escape Hill. Adjun's massacre is obviously not Hearne's massacre, though there is one significant similarity: the presence of a white man.

There are a number of versions of the Navarana story included in early anthropological collections of Copper Inuit stories. One of the three stories Diamond Jenness collected that he called "Raids By White Men" is a variant of the Adjun story except that the murderers are all white, and there is no mention of Indians at all. Rasmussen records two accounts of massacres of Inuit that he classifies under the general heading "Meetings With Strange Tribes" in The Intellectual Culture of the Copper Eskimos. The two tales are both Navarana stories, one by Netsit, and one by Horqarnaq of Coronation Bay.

Netsit's version is similar to Adjun's except that in this story one Inuit woman and her newborn daughter escape detection because the mother bums the afterbirth and the dense smoke hides them. The pursuing sealhunters have the same difficulty following the trail, but before they reach the dance house they encounter Navarana, who has led the Indians to murder the women. The Inuit catch up with the Indians who are feasting and kill them with their own knives. This is said to have taken place at Uatliarssuk.

Horqarnaq's version of the Navarana story begins by explaining that because she was in the habit of going among Indians, it was Navarana's fault that the people of the village were killed while the men were out seal hunting. The mother and infant escape in the smoke of the afterbirth and the assailants return to their village where they hold a song-fest in a roofless festival house. When the pursuing Inuit catch up to Navarana, they stab her and slit her open. Upon arrival at the Indian village, they build a wall of snow around the dance house and kill the Indians with their own spears. This is thought to have happened at Ikiargdlik, inside the islands of Pagdlaq and Iperautaq. Ikiargdlik is Adjun's Escape Hill, and Pagdlaq is the Rae River area. One of the Indians is said to have escaped by flying up into the air.

Maurice Metayer's "Text 92" in his Unipkat collection, recorded from Louis Qajuina in 1958, is a fairly lengthy version of the Navarana story, consistent with the Rasmussen one even as to place names, except that like Adjun, the storyteller says that the Indians were accompanied by white men and the man who escaped by flying up into the air was white.

The second category of massacre stories told by Copper Inuit are occasionally but not always connected to the Bloody Fall site. Two of these are described by Jenness in the Report of the Canadian Arctic Expedition Vol. 13, Eskimo Folk-Lore. Jenness links "Text 74," told by Avranna, to the Hearne massacre, solely on the basis of the location of the second set of murders. The story says that a group of whites killed all but two Inuit inhabitants of a settlement on the Nagyuktok River on Southern Victoria Island and the same whites later killed a large party of Inuit just below Bloody Fall. The other story, "Text 74" (c) by Uloqsaq, claims that a party of whites destroyed two groups of Inuit near the Rae river; a third group escaped by transforming themselves into musk-oxen. When the whites went looking for more victims, a shaman named Kalupik prevented them from succeeding (Jenness 81-82).

Rasmussen also has a reverse massacre story, in that it is one about the massacre of Indians by Inuit. He calls this story one of the Copper Inuit "Tales of Killing and Revenge." The story of "Tunoqahak" supports the suggestion that the Bloody Fall killings might have been in retaliation for a prior attack. In this story, a group of Inuit are caribou hunting when they come upon some Indians in their tents and attack them. Two of the hunters, Tunoqahak and Aijana, are on the flanks of the attacking party and confront two Indians similarly situated. Tunoqahak wants to shoot the Indians but Aijana thinks they want to barter. Before the Inuit can agree on what to do, the Indians shoot and wound them both. The two Inuit flee and hide, but the Indians pursue them. Tunoqahak, who has an amulet of ptarmigan, makes himself invisible and so escapes detection. The group of Indians kills many of the Eskimos but allows some to escape. When they return to their tents, Tunoqahak "followed them with his eyes" and sees that some of them have disappeared, "so it was the Eskimos who had taken revenge." The storyteller, Netsit, was unsure exactly where the fight took place but supposed "it was near Bloody Falls at Coppermine River" (Rasmussen 253).

"Text 66," collected by Maurice Metayer from Louis Qajuina who also gave him "Text 92," the Navarana story, appears to relate more closely to Hearne, or at least Metayer believed it did. In brief, "Text 66" tells of how people were putting skins on their kayak frames at Bloody Fall when they learned that some of their clan had been attacked and killed. They take their families and go down river to the sea, leaving behind an old man who does not wish to follow them. According to the English summary, "The white men killed him" (Metayer 775). The rest of the Inuit are said to escape to the islands off Three Rivers, which Colin Adjun suggests are the islands at the mouth of the Coppermine where the river divides into three channels (Adjun 1991).

In his notes, Metayer points out how this account resembles part of Hearne's narrative--the death of one man and the wounding of another of the Inuit on the east side of the river, and the escape of the rest in their kayaks. However, if one compares Qajuina's text to both Hearne's published and unpublished accounts of the massacre, a number of differences emerge. First, the Inuit text is quite specific in identifying the time of the massacre as early spring. July 17th is the height of summer in the Arctic, the time when the darkness is just starting to return and the flowers are dying. It is far too late for Inuit to be re-covering their kayaks. Hearne says that the Inuit who were on the east bank were warned of the murders when they heard the discharge of the guns as Matonabbee's men killed those on the west bank; Qajuina's account has no such sense of immediacy. The people merely "learned that some of their clan had been attacked and killed" (Metayer 775), presumably from survivors. Hearne says that those who escaped on the east bank went onto sand bars in the middle of the river, not down to the sea where the islands have grass and willows. But the major difference in the two accounts is that Qajuina makes no mention at all of Indians, only of white men.

Other stories of massacres were still being told in Coppermine fairly recently. One of these, by Joe Otoayoakyok, reads, in part, as follows:

I'm going to talk about Indians now. There use to be lots of Indians killing Eskimos, maybe I was too late to see this but I use to hear about this. They killed people at Bloody Fall and Richardson River.     There was one whiteman with the Indians. The whiteman got married to an Eskimo lady from the Western Arctic. That whiteman was Stefansson . . . . These Indians and Stefansson were killing Eskimo people.     Long ago, between Richardson and Coppermine Rivers there were people, mainlanders, and there was that time when Stefansson stayed there with my parents long ago. My parents say that Stefansson's wife was Bonnie Kablu. I was just a baby. Then they moved and later they came back by a big ship. (Irons 21 Feb. 1991)

It is certainly Vilhjalmur Stefansson that Otoayoakyok meant--Stefansson's country wife was Panikablu, and she came from the Tuktoyaktuk region. The Honingmann's informant, James Koe, in his discussion of Indian/Inuit conflicts in the Western Arctic, named an elder called Old Pokiak as the peacemaker, projecting a trapper who was in the Aklavik area in 1910 back into the previous century, rather as Joe Otoayoakyok may have substituted Stefansson for an earlier white explorer, possibly Hearne.

Sometimes, pieces of the Navarana story shift over into these other stories of massacres. Aime Ahegona guides tourists on visits to Bloody Fall as part of his business, "Aime's Arctic Tours," but claims to know nothing about the massacre because he is from Read Island, further north. However at the mention of survivors, Ahegona suddenly recalled his aunt telling him that there had been two people to survive the Bloody Fall massacre: a woman and her infant. The woman had ptarmigan amulets on her forearms, which gave her the ability to camouflage herself just as the ptarmigan does on its nest. Harold Webster, who was the Anglican minister in Coppermine for 25 years, said that he was told, with regard to the Bloody Fall massacre, that "an old man and a young girl, who hid behind some rocks, were saved" (Webster 24).

Both the variants of the Navarana story and the other massacre stories have a number of common elements. First, all of the storytellers are clear that this is not a case of tribal infighting; it is instead a clash between two disparate groups. Second, there are survivors who either escape or are allowed to escape. Third, there is a specific location. Places such as the Nagyuktok River in the south of Victoria Island cannot be easily identified now, but the names are almost certainly real names, and some are still in use today. Lastly, there is either revenge or resolution through retaliation or the threat of retaliation. Two other elements, the woman who marries a stranger and the use of magic, can also be regarded as recurring features, though the presence of the latter depends on what one identifies as magical.

The presence of people who are not part of the traditionally identifiable enemy, such as the Norse in Greenland or Indians in Coppermine, seems to be unique to the stories of the Coppermine area. Europeans who participate in the clash between Indians and Inuit, the old enemies, can be found in Adjun, Otoayoakyok, Qajuina, Avranna, Uloqsaq and of course Hearne, which suggests that this is a detail, like the Norse battle axe in the Greenlandic Navarana stories, that might be regarded as a survival of historical truth. In fact, along with the location of the massacre site at Bloody Fall, it may be the one detail that relates directly back to the 17 July 1771 massacre which Samuel Hearne witnessed.

It is interesting to note that when whites and Indians show up in stories from other areas, they appear in very different ways. Three stories from Baker Lake illustrate this point. The Navarana story as told by Helen Pownuk describes the massacre and revenge, but in her version two Indian children are spared, a boy and a girl who marry Inuit and become welcome additions to the group (Kalluak 88-93). There are no white men in this variant. "Adopted Indian," by Marcel Akadlaka, describes how an Indian boy who was adopted by Inuit saved the people from an Indian attack (Kalluak 42-5). "How Indians Became Uncles" is actually a story about how Indians and Inuit became cousins to one another. The original Inuktitut word aglaat (cousins or relatives) has been mistranslated (Meyok).

It is not impossible that "How Indians Became Uncles" may also be a Hearne-related story as it tells of how the white people at Churchill (i.e. Fort Prince of Wales) lured all the Indians to their buildings and blew them up in order to stop them massacring the Inuit. According to this story, "the Kabloonat poured some powder on the ground and told the Indians to take some. Some Kabloonat was waiting up-wind with a match." The resulting explosion was so great that "not a bone was left of the Indians," except a boy and a girl who were saved and took Inuit spouses (Kalluaq 57). The Baker Lake stories cast the whites in the roles of murderers, but not in relation to Inuit, only in relation to the Indians, who while not innocent of murder are still taken into the Inuit group. Copper Inuit stories are the reverse, having the whites killing Inuit, not saving them.

These Copper Inuit stories which describe the presence of Europeans at massacres are not identified by Copper Inuit residents today as relating specifically to the Bloody Fall massacre of 1771. However, this suggests only that the Europeans were added after the major movement of Thule people east into Greenland. It seems likely, too, that this element of the stories predates the presence of traders and missionaries who knew enough details of the Bloody Fall massacre to put a date and a name to the event. If the white presence was only evident in stories attached specifically to the Fall, they might be thought to have a European origin; as it is, their dissemination into the corpus of massacre stories as a whole tends to validate their authenticity. The white man who accompanies the Indians seems to have been added after AD 1200 when the last of the Dorset people died out and were superseded by the Thule, but before 1900 when Inuit-white contact became relatively common in the Coppermine area.

In all probability, 18th century Inuit would have been able to identify a European even from a distance. When the Inuit were not fighting with the Indians they were obtaining European trade goods from them, so even in Hearne's time many of them would have been aware of the existence of Europeans in Canada. Today, Inuit cite the legend of how white men were created, a story often called "The Girl Who Married a Dog," to show that they knew about such people (see Anarosuk, Evaluardjuk, and others). Although Hearne was travelling in the Indian manner, there is no suggestion that he dressed as an Indian. He tells us that when the Indians stripped and painted themselves and cut off their hair in preparation for the ambush, he merely removed his stockings and tied up his hair. He carried a spear but no shield, and if there really was a young woman who twined around his legs like an eel, it may have been because she identified him as non-Indian.

The predominance of European figures in the massacre stories of Coppermine is not proof that Hearne was present at a massacre of Inuit at Bloody Fall, any more than it is proof that "Indians and Stefansson were killing Eskimo people," but it does add support to his claims. Further, if Louis Qajuina's story of a Bloody Fall massacre, "Text 66," does relate to the ambush on the east bank as Father Metayer suggests, Qajuina can be used to support Hearne's claim that he really did travel all the way to the mouth of the Coppermine.

Whether or not Hearne made it right to the mouth of the river has long been in doubt, primarily because his description of the last ten miles of the river is accurate only for the first mile below the Fall. John Richardson, in his "Digression Concerning Hearne's Route," concluded that "Hearne did not go down to the sea, but was content to view it from the top of the hill." Erik Morse sides with Richardson, reasoning that his description of the river below the Fall as "so full of shoals and falls that is was not navigable" was so inaccurate that he must have just observed it from the hills above the Fall (Morse 31). Denis St-Onge believes that "Hearne was there.... His descriptions of Coronation Gulf are much too accurate for him not to have seen its shore" (Qtd. in Newman 265). Louis Qajuina, in "Text 66," says of the invaders who killed the Inuit at Bloody Fall that "They realized that the kayaks would go to shore so they kept ahead of them," forcing the people to go all the way down to the sea to take refuge on some islands. Unlike English, which only has three persons, Inuktitut has a fourth person so that it is easy to distinguish between "they" the Inuit and "they" the invaders. It is the invaders who kept ahead of the Inuit. Qajuina says that the invaders went down to the mouth of the river, which is just what Hearne says.

Eigil Knuth points out that one of the important functions of the Navarana myth in Greenland is to remind people that "relations between Norsemen and Eskimos were, to begin with, to mutual benefit and satisfaction" (24-25). Perhaps the function of the additions to the Copper massacre stories is to remind us that no matter how much Hearne distanced himself from the actual murders, the presence of a European was noticed and remembered by Copper Inuit. The stories certainly suggest that Enid Mallory was wrong in her contention that among Copper Inuit, the "fear of known treachery" on the part of Indians was stronger than the "fear of the unknown" white men (Mallory 51). All the evidence seems to indicate that white men were feared and hated even more than Indians since the whites did not marry into the group, nor did they ever appear to suffer the consequences of their actions. Whites who committed massacres managed to escape retaliation, by simply "flying up in the air."

It would be improper to come to any firm conclusion about Hearne and the Bloody Fall massacre based upon the various stories of Indian attacks recorded in the Coppermine area in this century, but the presence of European figures in so many of their massacre narratives does give weight to the belief that the massacre Hearne claimed to have witnessed did, indeed, happen at the Fall, and his presence there was noted by survivors. The stories also add a little weight to Hearne's claim that he travelled all the way to the mouth of the Coppermine. Of more importance to post-colonial European Canadians and Inuit Canadians, these stories remind us that history was happening before Europeans came to Canada. It emphasizes, too, something that northerners are well aware of, which is that Inuit in Canada share their experiences of conflict and colonization with the Inuit of Alaska and Greenland. Until researchers have investigated native oral history, they will not have exhausted their resources since written literature tells only one side of the shared history of native and non-native Canadians.

Obviously these stories tell us a great deal about Inuit-White relations in the Coppermine area, but they also tell us something about Hearne himself. Hearne says that merely to think back on that day in July brought tears to his eyes; he would have us believe they were tears of horror, but perhaps they were tears of regret and guilt. Hearne tried to see himself as a bystander at the Bloody Fall massacre and did his literary best to distance himself from the events, but the reality is that Hearne initiated the journey that culminated in the massacre, that Hearne and his countrymen provided the guns that were used, and that Hearne was every bit as responsible for the deaths of those Inuit as Matonabbee and his men. Inuinaqtun stories place Hearne just where his own unpublished journal does, at the centre of the massacre. Navarana. is disemboweled, the Indians are killed with their own spears, and Hearne flies away, unpunished, to write his disclaimer and to contribute to the myth of the savage Indian and the peaceable Inuit.

The author would like to thank Ian McLaren for providing the transcript of the Stowe manuscript.


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---. Personal communication (Coppermine, NWT). 31 July 1991.

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