Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Social Science Indigenous Studies

The Arctic Sky

Exploring the Inuit Universe

by (author) John MacDonald

Nunavut Arctic College
Initial publish date
Sep 2023
Indigenous Studies, Astronomy, Cosmology
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2024
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Through the lens of Inuit astronomical knowl­edge and traditions, The Arctic Sky underscores the complexities of the Inuit worldview, where nature’s realm is intrinsically one with human society. In essence, this work asserts another way of knowing the universe.


For Inuit, the celestial and atmospheric spheres were of primary concern. Time, seasonal and diurnal, was measured by the ever-changing positions of the sun, moon, and stars across the sky, while the whims of weather were the prin­cipal determinants of daily activity and fortune. Beyond this—as revealed through the creation legends at the heart of the book—the sky and its contents were mirrored in the inventive parables shaped by the Inuit intellect to explain and uphold cosmic and social order.

The impact of climate change and globalization on Arctic regions, along with a surging interest in Indigenous knowledge, makes this new edition of The Arctic Sky especially timely. Based on the memories and experiences of the last generation of Inuit whose lives were lived autonomously on the land, largely following their ancestral traditions, the Arctic they evoke is now a very different place in many of its social and environmental dimensions.

About the author

John MacDonald spent most of his working life in the Canadian Arctic, including twenty-five years as co-ordinator of the Igloolik Research Centre in Igloolik, Nunavut, where he worked closely with Inuit elders participating in the community’s oral history project. He is the author of The Arctic Sky and co-editor of The Hands’ Measure (Nunavut Arctic College Media), a work highlighting the urgency of recording and documenting Indigenous oral histories and traditional knowledge.

John MacDonald's profile page

Other titles by