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THE GOLDEN SHMOO OF THE BARREN LANDS
Dolly Connelly
July 17, 1967
Like a creature from an Al Capp comic strip, the hula-skirted musk ox has survived threatened extinction to become a utopian animal for the hard-pressed people of the North
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July 17, 1967

The Golden Shmoo Of The Barren Lands

Like a creature from an Al Capp comic strip, the hula-skirted musk ox has survived threatened extinction to become a utopian animal for the hard-pressed people of the North

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Along with domestication of the animals, this fall the institute will begin the training of promising young Eskimos as herdsmen. Mrs. Lillian Schell, a graduate student at the University of Alaska, working for a Master of Fine Arts degree, is preparing herself to teach the subtleties of qiviut garment hand-manufacture to native women. An honor graduate of the New England School of Textiles, Mrs. Schell will be a key instructor in the new native industry. Points out John Teal: "The quest for qiviut may be the means by which man will open up the North for permanent settlement and will achieve that greater wisdom, the happy adjustment of economy and environment."

Careful preparation of the native settlements to receive the musk oxen is an integral part of the plan. Some earlier attempts to teach Eskimos to herd reindeer came a cropper when the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to take into account the hunter instinct of the Eskimo. As quickly as hopeful Fish and Wildlife men winged off into the blue, the Eskimos did what comes naturally. They ate the reindeer on the grounds that a sure reindeer in the belly is to be preferred to a possible calf in the spring. This will not happen with musk oxen, no matter how delicious their flesh may be.

In captivity, the calves will be weaned in three months, so that cows may be bred again in August, producing calves annually instead of every second year as they ordinarily do. Without straining the imagination, it is possible to foresee the Arctic prairie again populated with herds of musk oxen as it once must have been—not food for prehistoric man, but bearers now of a golden opportunity for a hard-pressed people.

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