do the people of "santa claus land" celebrate christmas?

hamilton times 1909-12-24 another weird xmas story with inuit 640px Hamilton Times, December 24, 1909.

In 1909, the Arctic was the exciting frontier of North America, thanks to Robert Peary's still-contested claim of having reached the geographic North Pole. The Inuit living in the region were treated as an exotic species, to the point that, in the 1890s, New York's Museum of Natural History asked Peary to bring back "specimens" for study

By this point, the myth of Santa Claus residing in the North Pole was established, which led to an obvious question: how did people in the far north actually celebrate Christmas?

The answer: not in any way which pleased close-minded people to the south. The questions "disturbing young citizens" might not be the same ones which would disturb them today.

This piece feels like a Christian missionary's wet dream. Look at these poor creatures who don't know the happiness everyone else experiences on December 25! It's cold! All they do is sit around joylessly on blocks of ice as they chew raw meat! No books! No knowledge of the birth of Christ, unless you're in parts of Greenland! THESE PEOPLE NEED TO BE ENLIGHTENED BY THE POWER OF THE LORD!!!

In an unintended way, this piece doesn't make Santa look good. It's as if he's teasing them with the bells of his reindeer, or he's busy making toys they can't have, forcing them to sit around joylessly on blocks of ice as they chew raw meat. Did Santa ever consider offer Inuit work contracts, or did he prefer the unquestioning loyalty of elves?

  hamilton times 1909-12-24 weird xmas story with inuit 640Hamilton Times, December 24, 1909.

Elsewhere in that day's edition, Inuit were also used in a reading lesson that appears to promote pronunciation via syllables. This version of Santa only has four reindeer making up his team that night, one of whom (Thunder) was added since Clement Moore wrote "A Visit From St. Nicholas" in 1823. Maybe the others were resting that year, or Santa wanted to train a new addition. 

If you had decided that yes, you'd like to spend the summer in remote Alaska (which at this point had only been purchased from the Russians 40 years earlier, and was half-a-century away from statehood), hopefully you'd have treated the reindeer's caretaker respectfully and not as a living museum exhibit.

But, as you'll see in the next post, these weren't the only weird pieces of Christmas Eve content in that day's edition of the Hamilton Times...


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