Joining an Inuit hunting party in Greenland in 1910, Danish explorer Peter Freuchen was pleased to receive several hundred pounds of meat because he’d thrust a harpoon into a walrus. When he thanked the primary hunter, the man looked at him and said nothing. Back at camp he told Freuchen:
Up in our country we are human! And since we are human we help each other. We don’t like to hear anybody say thanks for that. If I get something today you may get it tomorrow. Some men never kill anything because they are seldom lucky or they may not be able to run or row as fast as others. Therefore they would feel unhappy to have to be thankful to their fellows all the time. And it would not be fun for the big hunter to feel that other men were constantly humbled by him. Then his pleasure would die. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves, and by whips one makes dogs.
Freuchen wrote, “I have come to understand the truth of his words. The polar Eskimos were a free people when we met them.”
(Peter Freuchen, Adventures in the Arctic, 1960.)