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October 04, 1959 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1959-10-04
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A Description of Life in Poland Today


'HIS SUMMER seven young
Americans, of Which I was
fortunate to be one, went from
America, across the sea and across
All the latest
Come in and Browse
322 S. State NO 3-3371f

a continent to stay six weeks in
a country - Poland - and with
a people - the Poles - that we
shall never forget.P
Before our group reached Po-
land we met several times to dis-
cuss what to expectupon arrival.
No amount of discussion, however,
would have adequately prepared
us for the things we were to see,
hear and learn. Before the sum-
mer was over, each of us discov-
ered a great deal about the coun-
try and the people.
First, of -course, we saw the
country only through the eyes of
a tourist . . . we noticed houses,
streets and people, but they were
only objects to be examined, eval-
uated and then filed away in our
Time, however, changed our
point of view for by living with
our Polish families, doing what
they did, working with them,
playing with them and when the
time came, crying with them, we
slowly became for a brief and
wonderful moment, Poles. We ate
like Poles, played like Poles,
worked like Poles, thought like
Poles; we were in tune with the



We have

life, the tempo, the heartbeat, the
soul of the country and its people.
BEFORE OUR eyes opened a
whole new stage, one a tourist1
never sees, and on it the now old
and familiar houses, streets, and
people took on a new and price-
less quality - a place in our
hearts and our-memories. Some
interesting impressions of the
Poles and their country evolved
from the trip.
Probably the most striking fea-
ture of modern Polish life is the
poor state of the Polish economy.
An average worker earns only
enough money to support one
person adequately; making it very
difficult for a man to support a
family alone. Not only the hus-
band, but the wife, too, is obliged
to work and if there are children,
the family income may still be
inadequate. Finally, in order to
survive, many take things from
the government. -
The reasons for this situation
in Poland's economy can probably
be traced to three important
sources. First, all of Poland's in-
dustrial capacity was destroyed
during the war and, lacking any
outside assistance, the country
has been forced to replace and ex-
pand its industries at the price of
the people's welfare.
Evidence of this is still dra-
matically present even in the
capital city of Warsaw. The re-
treating Germans left the city a
shambles of rubble and even to-
day, after nearly fifteen years of
building and reconstruction, War-
saw is still dotted with bombed-
out skeletons of buildings and
large flat fields of brick dust
where buildings once stood.
SECONDLY, in the years from
1945 to 1956 Poland was ex-
ploited economically by its "ally,"
Russia. Polish coal, Polish steel
and anything else Polish of value
were "purchased" by Russia at
prices far-below world market
The third and perhaps the most
important reason for the poor
state of Poland's economy is that
practically all enterprise in Po-
Thomas Piatkowski is a sen-
ior in science engineering and
a resident of Ann Arbor. He
lived with a Polish family in
Warsaw this summer as a par-
ticipant in the Experiment in
International Living.

land, from farming to automobile'
manufacturing, from candy-mak-
ing to shipping, is forced by Rus-.
sia to operate in an atmosphere of
strict Communistic socialism.
Private enterprise is discour-
aged; all large industry is state-
operated; competition and its ef-
fect of increasing quality and ef-
ficiency is absent; foreign com-
merce by individuals is forbidden.;
everything of high quality made
in Poland is sold abroad for gov-
ernmental revenue. Most import-
ant, the government is obliged to
pursue an industrial policy which
does not take full advantage of
Poland's resources or her position
in the world market, btt rather
has been manipulated to be al-
most solely dependent upon the
Russian market alone.
ANY INCENTIVE in the indus-
trial system is completely lack-
ing; the law of supply and -de-
mand is distorted so that instead
of the factories making what the
people want to buy, the people
can buy only the limited items


nearly every size, color, and composition.
Five large rocks.

The Poles Await Nixon's Arrival

BAFFIN ISLAND is the world's
third-largest island, lying on
the north end of Hudson Bay,
above the Arctic Circle.
A barren land of rocks, moss
and lakes, it is inhabited by ap-
proximately 10,000 Eskimos and,
until a few years ago, a few hun-
dred non-Eskimo Hudson's Bay
Company men, Royal Canadian
Mounted Police and Canadian
Government field men.
Recently the island has assumed
a new importance in the North
American defense plans of the
United States and Canada, and
DEW (Defense Early Warning)
radar stations and Air Force land-.
ing strips have started to appear.
And only last year, Frobisher Bay
was made a regular stop for trans-
polar, commercial air flights to
Such installations have radically
increased the number of men in
Baffin from "The Outside." They
have brought wholesale the bene-
fits and liabilities of so-called
Western civilization to the hither-
to primitive Eskimo population-
a certain proportion of which is
still working for previously un-
heard of wages, driving trucks and
As elsewhere in the world, the
major problem being faced in
Baffin Island is how the primitive
-even stone-age in some cases-
Eskimo culture and way of life is
to withstand the impact of Western
civilization without breaking down
entirely. The long, sad stories of
the decay, collapse and near ex-
tinction of the United States In-
dians and Canadian Indians (both
on the West Coast and in the
interior) and of the Western Ca-
nadian and Alaskan Eskimos offer
frightening portents of failure in
parallel situations.
THE PROBLEM is made even
more complex by the peculiar
demands made by the fearsome
Arctic climate on, the Eskimos and

their culture. In the past, merely
the problem of survival has called
forth a highly specialized -and
even complex Eskimo culture, but
one more than unusually open to
potentially damaging influences
from the outside.
Newly acquired tastes for chew-
ing gum and pop damage the
Eskimo's teeth; attempts to buy
colorful American clothes take
much of his pitifully low earned
income and give him little warmth
in winter; and a hundred more
examples of the problems intro-
duced by Western culture could be
But the innovations of the
"White man" are not all on the
bad side. The modern rifle has
immeasurably'increased the Eski-
mo's food-gathering capacity; the
outboard motor enables him to
move farther and faster with less
expenditure of energy than he
ever could before; and the Cana-
dian government's schools, supply
ships and nursing stations open
up innumerable roads to individual
betterment that were closed a gen-
eration ago.
The Canadian Government is
working feverishly to find a solu-
tion to this many-faceted problem.
For the -Eskimo's must not, the
Government says, be allowed to
fall to the status of second class
citizens, -as have the Indians and
Western Eskimos. The Government
is seeking to enable the Eskimo to
take advantage of those aspects of
Western civilization which will
help him in his fight for survival
in the barren Arctic.
BUT AT the same time, the
Government- is' trying to pre-
vent the undesirable aspects of
the modern world from seeping
in--aspects which would make the
Eskimo's struggle for survival more
difficult or which would reduce
him to a mere unthinking accept-
ance of all Western things.

As evidence, consider the-plight
of Polish aeronautical engineer-
ing students, who every year.
graduate in greater numbers than
the limited Polish aircraft indus-
try can absorb; or the fact that
an assistant professor receives a
salary less than the average Po-
lish workman. In addition, the
universities tend to favor students
of peasant and worker back-
ground, regardless of ability. This
was especially prevalent prior to
1956. All of these conditions,
linked to the necessary lack of
freedom which exists in such a
state, inevitably only depresses the
INDEED, in Poland there are
many things to make the people
depressed, not only in the econ-
omy and education but most es-
pecially, in politics. For example,
Poland really has only one politi-
cal party - the Communist one.
Freedom of speech is a privilege
not to -be indulged in with im-
punity. Freedom of the press is




10 Nickels Arcade

Phone NO 2-4303

a --------- - - - - -

that the factories produce. Every
workman in Poland can find a job
but few earn enough to feed and
clothe their families..
Poor as the country may be, in
the field of education it is rather
lavish. Every child in Poland is
given as much education as he or
she can handle, completely at the
cost of the government. All chil-
dren must finish grammar school
and those that demonstrate the
ability are sent on through high
school and college. Any good col-
lege student will receive a schol-
arship that amounts to half the
salary of an average worker.
However, the job opportunities
for the college graduate are lim-
ited and there is little reward fors

ernment controlled. Though Po-
land has the largest army of all
the satellite nations, it is ill-
equipped and Russian troops in
East Germany, Czechoslovakia
limited since all printing 1s gov-
and Russia completely surround
it. And again there is looming the
old fear of a rearmed Germany.
Still in their own way, the
people are happy and optimistic
--they are living, praying, and be-
lieving they once again will be
free. In 1956 the people revolted
in Poznan, precipitating i radi-
cal change for the better in Po-
land's internal government. When
the Hungarians revolted against
the Russians, the Poles organized
volunteer units of soldiers and
(Concluded on Page 6)

Perhaps nowhere in the Arctic
is the problem being met as well
as at Cape Dorset, on the south-
western coast of Baffin. There
in an Eskimo community whose
population varies from 100 in
winter to 450 in summer, James
Houston, Northern Service Officer
and Area Administrator for much
of Southwestern Baffin Island, his
dedicated wife Alma, a school
teacher and a male nurse grapple
with the endless problems faced
by the modern Eskimo.
The settlement of Cape Dorset is
located on Kingmik Island (which
means 'sled dog" in Eskimo).
Here, the Eskimos have achieved
in their daily life a surprisingly
successful adaptation of Western
ways to the rigors of their north-
ern climate.
During the summer in Baffin
Island, things are easy. About the
time of the spring break up of
the sea ice, the Eskimos (who do
not like being called Eskimos, but
prefer to call themselves Inuit,
"men, premenantly") who have
been living throughout the winter
in groups of two to five families
move into Cape Dorset from their
settlements by whale boats or
canoes powered by outboard
THEY COME into the settlement
mainly to trade with the Hud-
son's Bay Company trading post
located there. Over the winter,
each able bodied man in the group
has cared for a trap line, gather-
ing white foxes and ermines. By
the time spring arrives, the group
is practically out of staple pro-
visions-tea, rifle cartridges, flour
Ffor bannoc (a kind of bread
cooked over a seal oil lamp) and
The Eskimo trades his white fox
=pelts for these essentials, getting
from $5 to $35 per pelt, the price
-depending on the Hudson's Bay
Company policy for that particular
Once at the settlement, having
finished the most important trad-
ing, the Eskimos settle down in
tents for the rest of the short
arctic summer: meeting friends
and relatives, undergoing medical
examination for tuberculosis when
the 'Government supply ship ar-
rives on its once a year visit;
dancing their dances-marathons
which go on practically all night
and end up as an endurance con-
If the weather is bad, and no
hunting can be done, the Eskimo
stays near his tent (formerly made
of seal and caribou skins, but now
of sail cloth), perhaps carving hu-
man figures and animals in soap-
stone with his primitive tools.
This, besides being an outlet for
his creative instincts and perhaps
for his magical ones too (as it is
felt that the man who carves a
seal may somehow gain some kind
of magical control over the seal
when he goes out to hunt him) is
the Eskimo's second source of
THE CANADIAN Government.


never improve his standard of
living through trapping alone, has
instituted a program, operated
through the Canadian Handicrafts
Guild, of purchasing these carv-
ings from the Eskimos and selling
them outside the region.
When the weather is good for
hunting, everyone who can goes
out on the ocean to hunt, as fresh-
ly-shot meat is the Eskimo's staple
food. The staff of life in the Arctic
is the common ring seal, which
weighs betwen 25 and 150 pounds.
Also shot is the "Ugjuk" or beard-
ed seal, weighing up to 2,000
pounds, commonly used for dog
food, and the walrus, also used
for dogs.
That the Eskimos can shoot
enough seals to feed them-even
though Dorset is famous for good
hunting-is amazing to the outside
observer, for the difficulties in-
volved in hunting are enormous.
First, seals only come up to
breathe every five minutes or so,
and their heads are about the size
of a man's fist. They have excel-
lent hearing and sight, and con-
sequently come up for breath--a
long distance away from the
As the seal's head is bobbing
up and down with the waves, and
the canoe from which one shoots
is doing the same thing, and as
the Eskimos' guns often shoot 10
degrees to one side or the other,
even coming near the seal is quite
an achievement.

most er
mostly e
inland, w
ward to
ibou sh
ally, bet
on the
But in
skill ani
tion, the
barren c
gies are
simple p
times sr
when th
below 2
,rises d
in his s
lose on's
was one
losing h
outside t
The wij
plains. I
ing with
to a r
caught :
build a
night. V
not thi
Royal (
The E
their li
their 0'
have bo
ern civi
dered t:
aware o
of their
in a p
and in
which is
ern cult
the Esk
do this
if they
own par

All Wool
Sport Coats


See that national shoulder,;

Ivy styled suit.
Suits $59.50

A large selection of colors including birnsh.
brown and olive green.




IN THE PAST, the Eskimos were
forced to use kyaks and har-
poons to catch seals, and only.
their consummate hunting skill
and knowledge of their prey en-
abled them to survive. Now, with
canoes, outboard motors and rifies,
the Eskimos can eke out a living
from their harsh country with
much more certainty of success.
Their diet consists, except for
tea and bannoc and cigarettes
(they all smoke about 3 nacks of

they fin
ial dh
this su
to colf
meet .
and I

ver a Quarter Cey


Two Eskimos quarry soapstone to use later in their carving. The
soft stone may be cut to some extent with an axe, but becomes
harder upon prolonged exposure to air. The Eskimos travel 256
miles to reach this particular deposit of the rare stone, whose
deen green onlor is much pnie lbv a lcarvrs -

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