Taissumani, May 21
Eskimos on Mars
Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist, recently made a pronouncement on the possibility of extra-terrestrial life in space — aliens — and he suggested that they exist but that we shouldn’t contact them – they may be dangerous!
His comment got a lot of attention in the world’s newsrooms, in part because every journalist felt compelled to include a picture of the unfortunate Hawking with their piece, no doubt because he suffers from a debilitating illness which makes him rather resemble an alien himself.
But Hawking should lighten up — there are living beings in outer space, and they’re not dangerous.
President Obama, too, needs to check his facts. He recently announced a renewal of America’s interest in the exploration of space — the final frontier. He announced that he expected that within his lifetime an American — presumably not him — would land on Mars.
Other commentators have claimed that Americans may be pre-empted in this initiative to put an American on the Red Planet, suggesting that the first man on Mars would probably be Chinese.
But Obama and the other observers are wrong. They haven’t been reading the news. In 2004 World Weekly News reported – and Nunatsiaq News carried it – that Eskimos had been found living on Mars!
Now the World Weekly News is not where I turn for accurate reporting of the world’s significant events. While there seems to be no limit to the outlandish stories they carry, that article presumably stretched even their unknown limits.
But it seems that even the World Weekly News was reporting not news but history at least a century old. For the tabloid was not the first to make the claim the Eskimos were living on Mars.
In 1892, at a time when there was intense interest in Mars, none other than Edward S. Holden, a prestigious astronomer and first director of the Lick Observatory of the University of California in Santa Cruz, made statements which appeared in the press at the time.
Noting the public’s burning desire for more knowledge on Earth’s neighbour, he stated, “We are simply endeavouring to observe more accurate information regarding the planet,” and that, “We also wish to know how closely Mars resembles the earth, and whether it is fit to be inhabited by beings like ourselves… In my opinion the time has not yet come to even speculate on this question.”
But speculate he did, for he then went on to add — out of the blue amidst his discussion of what was known about the planet — “If there are people on Mars, I think they are Esquimaux.”
And that was it. No reasons given. No indication why the inhabitants would be “Esquimaux” and not Caucasians, or Hottentots for that matter. His comments were reported in, among other places, The Hamilton Daily Republican, Hamilton, Ohio, on August 4, 1892.
I stumbled across a copy while doing other research. (No, dear reader, I was not explicity researching the possibility the there were Inuit on Mars.)
Is a land claim in order? The esteemed astronomer, though long dead, left statements and so could be considered an expert witness.
But before Canadian land claims negotiators come out of retirement and hone their debating skills, it should be noted that Jose Kusugak spoke on the issue of Eskimos on Mars at a conference in Calgary in August of 2004.
Waving a copy of the World Weekly News report, which contained pictures, he remarked, “They sure look like Alaskans to me!”
Taissumani recounts a specific event of historic interest. Kenn Harper is a historian, writer and linguist who lives in Iqaluit. Feedback? Send your comments and questions to email@example.com.