North

Inuit family's plight to appear in print

A new book telling the story of an Inuit family who became exhibits in a European zoo will be published soon, due to the efforts of a German academic to translate the tragic tale.

A new book telling the story of an Inuit family who became exhibits in a European zoo will be published soon, due to the efforts of a German academic to translate the tragic tale.

The book, The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab, describes the plight of eight Inuit from Labrador whom a ship captain brought to Germany in the 1800s. They became attractions in a travelling zoo for Europeans interested in the so-called Eskimo culture.

Within four months, all eight had died of smallpox, a disease for which they had no immunity.

Their story is preserved in one Inuk's diary. The original Inuktitut version was lost, but a German copy survived.

Now an expert in Canadian studies at the University of Greifswald in Germany, Hartmut Lutz, has translated the diary to English with the help of his students.

"I don't know Inuktitut," said Lutz. "All we could do was translate it as closely [as possible] to the original and bring it out so people in Labrador, who have no access to German, know what happened to Abraham over 100 years ago."

The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab is expected to be published by the University of Ottawa Press in the fall.

now