More Holy Days and Merry Making.
June 29th is the date, celebrating the arrival of John Davis to the shores of Greenland. The story below is from Arctic Dreams. theAbysmal Year 2, or the Gregorian 2015 marks the first annual celebration. Read the story below and see if you don’t agree that John Davis has a better claim to statues, being on our money, having pictures hung in public places, but unfortunately, he was an exceptional navigator and decent human being, so as a result, history has no time for him.
But we do. And what better way to celebrate than with music and dancing?! Call it the Settler’s Stomp, invite everyone from your community to bring instruments and dancing shoes. Most properly, it should open up with the aboriginal people from the land where you live (Anishnaabeg of Kitigan Zibi where I am), and dance the night away. If you’re lucky, some Inuit will teach you how not to laugh at throat singing.
“With the backing of adrian Gilbert, a prominent Devonshire physician, and William Sanderson, a London merchant-adenturer, and under the patronage of the Duke of Walsingham, Davis outfitted two small ships, the Sunneshine and the Mooneshine, the former with a four-piece orchestra, and sailed from Dartmouth on the Devon coast on June 7, 1585.
“Their first landfall was near present day [mid-1980s) Cape Walloe on the southeast coast of Greenland, but fog and the ice stream in the East Greenland Current held them off. “[T]he irksome noyse of the yse was such, that it bred strange conceites among us, so that we supposed the place to be vast and voyd of any sensible or vegitable creatures, whereupon I called the same Desolation.” The two ships stood out from Cape Farewell (Davis would so name it on his second voyage) and came to shore, finally, near the old Norse settlement at Godthab on July 29. And here took place one of the most memorable of meetings between cultures in all of arctic literature.
“Davis an several others were reconnoitering from the top of an island in what Davis had named Gilbert Sound when they were spotted by a group of [Inuit] on the shore, some of whom launched kayaks. They made “a lamentable noyse,” wrote John Jane, “… with great outcryes and skreechings: wee hearing them thought it had bene the howling of wolves.” Davis called on the orchestra to play and directed his officers and men to dance. The Eskimos cautiously approached in kayaks, two of them pulling very close to the beach. “Their pronunciation,” wrote Jane,” was very hollow through the throate, and their speach such as we could not understand: onely we allured them by friendly imbracings and signes of curtesie. At length one of them poynting up to the sunne with his hande, would presently strike his brest so hard, that we might hear the blowe.” John Ellis, master f the Mooneshine, began to imitate, pointing to the sun and striking his breast. One [Inuk} came ashore. They handed him pieces of their clothing, having nothing else to offer, and kept up their dancing, the orchestra playing the while.
“The following morning the ships’ commpanies were awakened by the very same people, standing on the same hill the officers hand stood on the day before. The Eskimos were playing on a drum, dancing and beckoning to them.
“(Davis’s courteous regard for the [Inuit] is unique in early arctic narratives He found them “a very tractable people, voyde of craft or double dealing….” He returned to the same spot on his second voyage; the moment of mutual recognition, and his reception, were tumultuous.)”