'Eskimo' meant 'eaters of raw meat' in Cree and was the name that the Cree had for the people of the far north, which the French traders adopted.

The people, a rather distinct racial group and the most widely dispersed aboriginal group in the world, stretching from far eastern Siberia through the Arctic coast of Alaska and Canada all the way to Greenland, call themselves Inuit or Inupiat.

This accounting was one of many written by my dad, Manuel Menendez, of his time as Captain of the “Artic Queen” of the East Reconnaissance Group, part of “Project Nanook” of the U.S. Air Force, assigned to Thule, Greenland.

It was one of his favorite tales and I’m grateful he wrote it and many others down. Dad always wanted to put his stories together into a book. He would have liked e2. So after discussing this with my brothers, I’d like to share it, as is, with the readers here. Remember, this is from the perspective of a young man in 1947.

And so the story begins…


“After three weeks in Thule, Greenland we finally received a projector for showing moving pictures on a large screen. We had a Quonset hut located behind the barracks area that we used as our theatre. We were looking forward to seeing the first show. Our theatre wasn’t very big but we could squeeze in 30 people. We had 20 chairs and a long board for the people to sit on.

Every day a group of Eskimos would come over to our military base to see what we were doing. They were primitive people with strange habits but they were friendly and we enjoyed seeing them.

When we showed our first movie featuring a cartoon and a main movie about six or seven Eskimos came into our theatre. They sat on the ground next to the canvas door. We closed the door and turned on the animated cartoons showing strange animals running around and fighting with each other. This frightened the Eskimos and they ran out of the theatre. We surmised that this would happen because the Eskimos had never seen anything like a moving picture.

There were two Danish radio operators in the theatre and one of them could speak to the Eskimos. He calmed them down and took them back into the theatre. From that day on there was always a dozen or more Eskimos at our weekly movies. They enjoyed the cartoons best. Can you imagine what they thought when they saw scenes from the outside world. They probably thought they were looking at scenes from the moon.

Every week a C54 airplane would bring us fresh food like eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables along with mail, movies and supplies for the two B17 airplanes. In July 1947 they brought us a moving picture called “Robin Hood” which featured Errol Flynn. When we showed the movie “Robin Hood” I noticed that the Eskimos were very quiet.

Throughout the movie, Robin Hood and his men were constantly shooting arrows from bows in order to kill the enemy. After each movie the Eskimos met outside and talked and laughed about the movies that had just seen. However, on this day I had a feeling that the Eskimos were disturbed about the Robin Hood movie. I went over to the Danish radio operator who could speak the Eskimo language. I asked him “What’s wrong with the Eskimos, they are acting strange”. He told me they were upset because they do not understand why a man would hunt another man and wanted to know if they ate him after he was killed. The Eskimos only hunted and killed what they could eat so it was hard for them to understand why people were hunted and killed.

Think about this…..We consider the polar Eskimos to be savages, but now I realize that with all the wars fought by civilized people in the world that the polar Eskimos were truly the civilized people.”


http://members.aol.com/r390a/lomholt/thule/page2.html shows a picture of the B17 "Arctic Queen" in Thule in 1947 with her crew. This is at the bottom of the page. At the top of page are some of the Danish personnel and in the middle is the crew of the C54.


All of Manuel Menendez’s writings and notes are copyrighted and owned by his estate, of which I am a member. Full permission has been received to publish them here on e2.

More about or by Manuel Menendez can be found in 
Cartographer
Sequoia National Park
A long term project

Legend has it that The Residents, sometime duirng 1976, were visited by their infamous mentor N. Senada, bearing a jar full of arctic air to be recorded along with some sound samples. This was the catalyst for what is possibly one of The Residents greatest musical achievements - Eskimo.

Unlike The Residents previous works, Eskimo is not an album of individual songs, but more of a collection of stories told through sound. Each track, along with the expository text on the album's sleeve, tells a story of Eskimo life. It's a collection of ambient sounds, howling arctic winds, minimialist, avant-garde Eskimo music, and tribal chants.

Not.

Actually, the sounds are a combination of The Residents homemade instruments, sound samples, and some synthesizer. There are few melodies, mostly ambient soundscapes. The vocals and chants are The Residents themselves, with their voices digitally manipulated into high pitched yelps, and deep growing grunts. The Eskimos actually sing in English, and as the album progresses, various catch phrases and slogans from popular culture slip in. (Such as The Festival Of Death's chants of Coca-Cola Adds Life).

The stories of the Eskimo on the album are fairly far removed from reality, and lean towards the pop culture perception of Eskimo life. The album begins with the story of a walrus hunt, and progresses to the finale - The Festival Of Death.

Of course, any node about Eskimo would have to explain the strange story leading up to its release. After the runaway success of Duck Stab, The Residents label, Ralph Records, and the business end of the band, The Cryptic Corporation began to promote them heavily. Fearing for their identity, they took the master tapes and disappeared. Desperate for material to release, Ralph put out the old album of material The Residents had made after Meet The Residents as Not Available (The album was not to be released until The Residents had forgotten about it, in accordance with N. Senada's Theory Of Obscurity.) The disappearing Residents story gave the band even more publicity, including a widely publicized tape exchange, in which the Cryptic Corporation recieved the master tape for Eskimo from a friend of the band. Eventually all was settled, and as an apology, The Cryptic Corporation gave The Residents their own 16-Track recording studio.

The album's artwork was also the first to feature The Residents newest costumes - tuxedos, top hats, and giant eyeball masks. This became the iconic idendity of the band (which would work against them in the future, however).

The album, despite fears that it would be dull and pretentious, was hailed as a new milestone in music. in its first six years, it sold 65,000 copies - more than any other album on Ralph Records. Fearing that success would go to their heads, The Residents remixed the album into a 7 minute disco song, entitled Diskomo. If you're at all interested in avant-garde, ambient, or unique music grab a warm blanket, a mug of hot chocolate and put on Eskimo.

Eskimo Tracklist:
1. The Walrus Hunt
2. Birth
3. Arctic Hysteria
4. The Angry Angakok
5. A Spirit Steals A Child
6. The Festival Of Death

Es"ki*mo (?), n.; pl. Eskimos (#). [Originally applied by the Algonquins to the Northern Indians, and meaning eaters of raw flesh.] Ethnol.

One of a peculiar race inhabiting Arctic America and Greenland. In many respects the Eskimos resemble the Mongolian race.

[Written also Esquimau.]

Eskimo dog Zool., one of breed of large and powerful dogs used by the Eskimos to draw sledges. It closely resembles the gray wolf, with which it is often crossed.<-- husky? -->

 

© Webster 1913.

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