Simon Paneak


  • Laurence Irving



Age, Amphipoda, Animal food, Animal mortality, Beluga whales, Biological sampling, Internal organs, Necropsy, Polar bears, Predation, Cunningham Inlet region, Nunavut


A well-known and distinguished Eskimo, Simon Paneak, who has been foremost a guide and instructor of scholars in interior arctic Alaska, died in September 1975. Simon Paneak extended a hospitality and guidance to scientists that enabled them to become acquainted with conditions and life in the arctic mountains of Alaska, where without his aid and that of his family and many Eskimo friends, especially in the Nunamiut village of Anaktuvuk Pass, existence along would have been most difficult for the visitors. Simon was born in 1900 in the Killik Valley of the central Brooks Range. ... In his childhood, practical use of the ancient implements was still familiar, and Simon could reconstruct the ways of life in the ancient families and small villages with delightful vividness. His stories have been important sources of accounts of the social anthropology of the inland Eskimos. His understandings of ancient ways enabled him to guide archaeologists to sites productive of artefacts revealing the prehistory of men in the Arctic over some 5,000 years. Simon's influence in anthropology, biology, and geology has affected scores of scientists. Their personal recollections of his aid and instruction in the ways of arctic life bear witness to his contribution to science. The agreeable memories of his genial society testify to the fact that pursuit of scientific information offers a social enterprise in which strangers with a formal education can communicate most agreeably with native residents who are not educated by conventions foreign to their locality, but who are wise in knowledge and appreciation of their own country. Simon collaborated with the writer of this tribute in publishing three articles on the avifauna of arctic Alaska, and was acknowledged as an important source of information in over a dozen other works in the same and related fields.