Mikak

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Painting of Mikak and her son Tukauk by John Russell in 1769.

Mikak (c.1740 – October 1, 1795[1]), also known as Micoc or Mykok, was born in Labrador, Canada and died at Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador. She was probably the first Inuk to travel to Europe and return to North America. Previous Inuit who travelled to Europe had died from diseases, especially smallpox, before returning.[2] Mikak, daughter of Inuk chief Nerkingoak, was very influential in creating friendly relationship with traders from Europe and native Labradoreans. She was one of the first Inuit to appear in recorded history.

Mikak came in contact with two Moravian missionaries Jens Haven and Christien Drachardt in 1765 when they stayed under the hospitality of Mikak's father. She had embraced the Europeans from the start and memorized a prayer that Drachart had taught her. Then in 1767 she encountered the Europeans yet again but this time when she and others were taken prisoner by Francis Lucas and his men of Fort York trading post in Chateau Bay.

In 1768 the Governor Hugh Palliser allowed Lucas to take Mikak and her two children to England, where she learned to speak and write English fluently. The aristocrats of England treated her as a curiosity but were taken by her beauty and charm. John Russell painted her portrait while she wore extravagant dresses and jewelry given to her by Augusta, Dowager Princess of Wales. The portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, London but has since been moved to the Ethnological Institute at Göttingen University, Germany.

Upon her return to Labrador in 1769 she had aided the two missionaries she had met previously to establish the first mission post in Nain, Labrador.

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  1. ^ Stopp, p.47
  2. ^ Stopp, p.50

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