Polar Regions

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Qummut Qukiria!

Qummut Qukiria!

Art, Culture, and Sovereignty Across Inuit Nunaat and Sápmi: Mobilizing the Circumpolar North
edition:Hardcover
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Polar Opposites

Shackleton, Stefansson and the End of the Heroic Age
edition:Hardcover
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The Ancestors Are Happy
Excerpt

Uvajuq

A long time ago, when people lived forever, there was a family of giants who lived on the north side of Kiilliniq (Victoria Island). A people of the sea, these giants were accustomed to eating large sea mammals like bowhead whales, bearded seals and walrus. One summer, when food became scarce, they decided to walk south across the island, led by a man named Uvajuq. As giants, they could wade through the largest lakes, so crossing any body of water that lay in their path was easy. Unable to find any food that suited them, they grew increasingly hungry as they walked. Of course, they saw caribou, so small in the eyes of the giants – like lemmings to us today – that it never occurred to them to eat the tiny caribou. As they wandered about from place to place without food, Amaaqtuq, the mother of the family, eventually became weak and collapsed from hunger. Uvajuq and his son pressed on until first the son and then the father also collapsed, falling face-down on the ground with their heads pointed south. They died of starvation where they lay. Over time, their bodies were covered by soil and rocks and are now the only hills for miles around in the otherwise flat land. If you look carefully, you can still see some of their ribs showing through the hillsides. Not long after he collapsed, Uvajuq’s bladder burst, and the liquid ran out to form Qigiqtaqtuuq and other small lakes on the southwest side of the hill. The Uvajuq family was just the first to perish. Traditionally, this story was used to explain the origin of death among Inuit of the region. But starvation and death continued in Kiilliniq. Other Inuit in the same country went to a fishing lake named Aariaq. There, they became desperate with hunger, started killing and eating each other and eventually they all died in this manner A short distance away at another lake named Iqaluktuuttiaq, a highly-skilled hunter used his bow and arrow to shoot a tuullik (yellow billed loon). This loon was divided up amongst all of the people there, but there were so many that the bird had to be cut at every joint in order to give everyone a tiny morsel. It was just enough to save their lives. * * *

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What I Remember, What I Know
Excerpt

Many stories have been written about how Inuit families were relocated to the High Arctic. The one most written about is economic opportunity. The other is sovereignty.  The writers are always careful to use the word “claims” when they’re talking about sovereignty, as if to make our claims untrue. The story is long, complicated, and documented by various groups, besides the official records. It has been told from so many angles and moods, from social and political perspectives. I will tell you the story of my family’s relocation from personal experience.

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