National Geographic : 1967 Feb
Refuge of a remnant race, Hokkai d6 shelters fewer than three hundred full-blooded Ainu scattered among some five million other inhabitants. A handful of Ainu may live in Soviet held Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. The Japanese spread over the archipelago centuries ago, but they shunned the cold, uncivilized north. Not until the 17th century did their traders establish themselves in Hok kaido. In the 19th century settlers followed, and Ainu land became part of Japan. Visiting the island in 1854, members of Commodore Matthew C. Perry's expedition noted that the "Ainos... well proportioned and with intelligent features" were main ly fishermen. Today Hokkaido's Ai nu follow many lines of work. "So big!" Distinguished ethnologist Sister Mary Inez Hilger admires an 11-pound salmon netted by 71-year old Tsurukichi Seki. Aided by a Na tional Geographic Society research grant, the 73-year-old Benedictine nun from St. Joseph, Minnesota, spent eight months collecting infor mation about Ainu ways. "I sought the older people," she says, "for they still speak the Ainu tongue and live with tradition." Learning of her project on Japa nese television, the Ainu greeted her as "Learned Woman"; she holds a doctorate from the Catholic Univer sity of America in Washington, D. C., and is a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution. Her studies of Indian tribes of the Americas have resulted in six books; she is now at work on a seventh, about the Ainu. 273 Tsu tratl KODACHROMEBY EIJI MIYALAWA,BLACK 1AnKUL N.b .O.