Pella Chronicle

Community News Network

November 13, 2013

The lost man who ate his dog

(Continued)

Sourdoughs in any number of stories contrasted white kindness to animals with native cruelty. At a time when the anti-animal cruelty movement gained traction nationwide, the stories embraced this particular emblem of "civilization" as one that differentiated white from native in the frozen North.

In a 1905 story by Addison Powell in Alaska Magazine, "The Alaska Partners," a prospector's dog, Summit, is kidnapped by native Alaskans, who have covetously observed his hunting prowess. Summit's fate, "tied to a post with no food except an occasional raw salmon that a squaw threw to him," shows the inferiority of native treatment. In Katherine Reed's story "The Klondike Nugget," published in Alaska Yukon Magazine in 1907, the heroic Prospector Dave's very character is tied up in this difference. The narrator observes: "'Go to Hell yourself but be white to your dogs' was one of [Dave's] favorite proverbs."

Dog-eating, an extreme form of this kind of cruelty, was in these fictions a practice observed only by native Alaskans. In the 1933 film Eskimo, for example, Mala, the Inuit star, eats his dogs one by one when he's lost on the ice. In a 1930 skit in which he played a sourdough, W.C. Fields made a joke at Balto's expense, telling an inquirer that he "just et Balto," and adding "Right good he was with mustard, too." That joke worked because white prospectors were not supposed to eat their heroic companions, no matter how hard things got.

People angry at Marco Lavoie aren't explicitly mad that he wasn't "being white to his dogs." But the long history of the "Man and Dog vs. the Wild" story can shed some light on the fury his action provoked. Taboos about the treatment of particular species, as Dana Goodyear explored in her recent story about eating and loving animals in the New Yorker, are wrapped up in a lot of cultural baggage. In the case of Marco Lavoie, we have years of stories telling us that we should starve rather than violate the man-dog bond.

Text Only
Community News Network
Features
Facebook
AP Video
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Obituaries