Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Googles Worn by the Inuit



[This text was originally published in 1907 by the Bureau of American Ethnology as part of its Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico . It was later reproduced, in 1913, by the Geographic Board of Canada. The work done by the American Bureau was monumental, well informed and incorporated the most advanced scholarship available at the time. In many respects, the information is still useful today, although prudence should be exercised and the reader should consult some of the contemporary texts on the history and the anthropology of the North-West Indians suggested in the bibliographic introduction to this section. The articles were not completely devoid of the paternalism and the prejudices prevalent at the time. While some of the terminology used would not pass the test of our "politically correct" era, most terms have been left unchanged by the editor. If a change in the original text has been effected it will be found between brackets [.] The original work contained long bibliographies that have not been reproduced for this web edition. For the full citation, see the end of the text.]



Goggles. Inventions relating to the visor and eyeshade, to reduce the amount of sunlight penetrating the eye. After the long Arctic winter comes the trying season of the low sun which, glancing over the snow, and Arctic waters nearly blinds the hunter and fisher. All northern peoples wear visors of some kind, but it is not enough that the [Inuit] should have his eyes shaded; he must have a device through which the eyes look out of narrow slits or small elliptical holes. Indeed, in many localities the shade and goggles are united. From E. to the farthest W. the [Inuit] have succeeded in perfecting such apparatus. The [Inuit] and Aleut spend much pains and skill in the manufacture of their goggles. They differ in materials, form, workmanship, method of attachment, and amount of foreign acculturation according to locality and exposure. Goggles or eye shades were rarely worn by the Indians. In the Report of the National Museum for 1894 (pp. 281-306, figs. 15-35) this device is well illustrated. Consult also Boas, Murdoch, Nelson and Turner in the Reports of the Bureau of American Ethnology. In the writings of Arctic explorers also goggles are mentioned.    


Source: James WHITE, ed., Handbook of Indians of Canada , Published as an Appendix to the Tenth Report of the Geographic Board of Canada , Ottawa , 1913, 632p., p. 180 .

© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College