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John Sakeouse

In August 1816, John Sakeouse, reputedly the first Eskimo ever to visit Scotland, arrived at Leith aboard the Greenland whaler, the Thomas and Anne. Sakeouse was a native of the Davis Straits on the west coast of Greenland and was aged 18 when he arrived in Scotland.

He gave exhibitions of 'several feats of dexterity' which attracted great attention and, according to reports of the time, resulted in the 'greatest concourse of spectators ever known to have assembled in Leith'.

His performances took place in the Wet Dock at Leith Docks and featured the 16lb. Eskimo canoe which he had brought with him from Greenland. Dressed in his native costume, he demonstrated feats of agility in the canoe: diving to turn the keel directly upwards and submerging the canoe above him and surfacing again sitting in it. He also beat a six oared whale boat in a race with his canoe and threw his spear at a target with 'unerring accuracy' whilst continuing to paddle the canoe.

Sakeouse acted as a guide and interpreter on a number of whaling expeditions; but died of typhoid in Leith in February 1819.