Abraham's Diary

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The late 19th century saw the rise of scientific racism in Europe, and those who flocked to the zoo exhibit expected to gape at "exotics" from some "primitive race". What they found instead were Labradorimiut who spoke 3 languages, played German hymn tunes on violin, and who were keeping their own ethnographic notes on the "uncivilised" Europeans. Tragically, both families died of smallpox, but not before Abraham Ulrikab wrote his impressions of the trip in a remarkable diary.

Poster advertising the Labrador Inuit in
Hagenbeck's Tiergarten, Hamburg 1880


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Hagenbeck Tiergarten, Hamburg, with bronze statues of zoo exotica: elephants, lions, bears, African and American humans.

The tragic story of 2 Inuit families from Labrador who were exhibited in European zoos 129 years ago. But while spectators gaped at them, the Inuit gazed back.
And one of them kept a diary.

(l-r) Ulrike, baby Maria, Tobias, Abraham, Sara


The Fox family: Paingo, Terrianiak, Nochasak


A documentary feature with the voices of:
Hartmut Lutz
Robin McGrath
Rainer Baehre
Mary Simon
Hans Rollman
Aaju Peter
Tom Gordon

• Abraham Ulrikab's diary is read by Solomon Simeak
• Adran Jacobsen's diary is read by Aiden Flynn

• additional voices: Delf Hohmann, Volker Meja, Waldo Scharvey
• Abraham's violin: Christina Smith (aka the Battery Radio Orchestra)
written & recorded by Chris Brookes.

This documentary is based on two primary texts:
• The Diary of Adrian Jacobsen (unpublished)
• The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab (Univ of Ottawa Press, 2005) by Alootook Ipellie, Hartmut Lutz, Hans-Ludwig Blohm

MUSIC HEARD IN THE FEATURE:
by The Giannini Brass, English Brass Ensemble, Moravian Trombone Choir of Downey, Edler Music, Wiener Mozart Ensemble, Quatuor de Cuivres de Fribourg, Bavarian Brass Orchestra, Nain Choir, Groupe Tirol, and the St. John’s Cathedral Choir


Hebron, Labrador circa 1890


Carl Hagenbeck, zoo owner and animal trainer