Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": THE MASTER OF THE CARIBOU


A belief of the Naskapi Indians of the Labrador Peninsula

In the interior between Ungava Bay and Hudson's Bay is a distant country where no Indians will go under any consideration for the following reason. There is range of big mountains pure white in colour formed neither of snow, ice, nor white rock, but of caribou hair. They are shaped like a house and so they are known as Caribou House. One man of the Petisigabau band says there are two houses. In this enormous cavity live thousands upon thousands of caribou under the overlordship of a human being who is white and dressed in black. Some say there are several of them and they have beards. He is master of the caribou and will not permit anyone to come within some one-hundred and fifty miles of his abode, the punishment being death. Within his realm the various animals are two or three times their ordinary size. The few Indians who have approached the region say that the caribou enter and leave their kingdom each year, passing through a valley between two high mountains about fifteen miles apart. And it is also asserted that the deer hair on the ground here is several feet in depth, that for mile around the cast-off antlers on the ground form a layer waist deep, that the caribou paths leading back and forth there are so deep as to reach a man's waist, and that a young caribou going along in one would be visible only by its head.


F.G. Speck, Naskapi, The Savage Hunters of the Labrador Peninsula (University of Oklahoma press, 1935), p.84

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