"That," said Viushin again, with a comical assumption of learning, "is the celebrated 'Jamuk chi a la Poosteretsk, the national dish of the Koraks, made from the original recipe of His High Excellency Oollcot Ootkoo Minyegeetkin, Grand Hereditary Taiyon and Vwisokee Prevoskhodeetelstvo "
Fifty-six, for instance, is "Nee-akh-khleep-kin-meen-ye-geet-khin-par-ol-in-nín-míl-li-gen," and it is only fifty-six after it is all pronounced! It ought to be at least two hundred and sixty-three millions nine hundred and fourteen thousand seven hundred and one and then it would be long. But the Koraks rarely have occasion to use high numbers; and when they do, they have an abundance of time.
The Wandering Koraks of Kamchatka, who are divided into about forty different bands, roam over the great steppes in the northern part of the peninsula, between the 58th and the 63d parallels of latitude.
Supper, in the social economy of the Koraks, is emphatically the meal of the day. Around the kettle of manyalla, or the trough of reindeer meat; gather the men of the band, who during the hours of daylight have been absent, and who, between mouthfuls of meat or moss, discuss the simple subjects of thought which their isolated life affords.
The evening was spent in questioning the inhabitants of the village about the northern part of the peninsula, and the facilities for travel among the wandering Koraks; and before nine o'clock we went to bed, in order that we might make an early start on the following morning.
Both Koraks and Chukchis count by fives instead of tens, a peculiarity which is also noticeable in the language of the Co-Yukons in Alaska. The Korak numerals are: Innín, One. Née-ak°h, Two. Nee-ók°h, Three. Née-ák°h, Four. Míl-li-gen, Five. In-nín míl-li-gen, Five-one. Née-ak°h " Five-two. Nee-ók°h " Five-three. Née-ák°h " Five-four. Meen-ye-geet-k°hin, Ten.
Are you just from America? I sent a Cossack. Did you meet him? How did you cross the tundras; with the Koraks? Akh! those proclatye Koraks! Any news from St. Petersburg? You must come over and dine with me. How long will you stay in town? You can take a bath now before dinner.
Its qualities were all negative except its grassiness, which alone gave character and consistency to the mass. The mixture, known among the Koraks as manyalla, is eaten by all the Siberian tribes as a substitute for bread, and is the nearest approximation which native ingenuity can make to the staff of life.
The duties of the shamans or priests among the Koraks are, to make incantations over the sick, to hold communication with the evil spirits, and to interpret their wishes and decrees to man. Whenever any calamity, such as disease, storm, or famine, comes upon a band, it is of course attributed to some spirit's displeasure, and the shaman is consulted as to the best method of appeasing his wrath.
I then sent for the chief of a band of Wandering Koraks who happened to be encamped near Penzhina, and prevailed upon him to drive his herd of reindeer to Anadyrsk, and kill enough to supply the starving inhabitants with food until they could get other help.