It’s been published for some time now, but I finally got around to reading through “The Last Gentleman Adventurer” by Edward Beauclerk Maurice. In the book, the author recounts his experiences as an apprentice working for the Hudson’s Bay Company in the Canadian Arctic during the 1930′s.
The most memorable passages are about his everyday dealings with the local Inuit, particularly in how he describes their hunting techniques as well as culture – in one experience where he and his Eskimo hunting party are trying to free a trapped boat, but have to wait for the tide to come back, he introduces the notion of ‘Ionamut’:
The Eskimos came also to possess a shell of resignation, enabling them to suffer, with apparent equanimity, any hardships that might arise. This resignation often became a source of irritation between them and their southern companions when hunting or traveling together, for in such a situation as we now found ourselves, with a shrug of the shoulders the Eskimo would say, ‘Ionamut’ (‘It can’t be helped’), and settle down to wait, while his companions become increasingly agitated.
The book is an easy read and reasonably well written – pick it up sometime if these sorts of memoirs interest you. Related: An older review in the NYTimes by William Grimes.