Posts Tagged ‘Inuit’


Buffalo Post pic of the week: Mussel dig essay

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Inuit, Native food, Native history

Photos by Patrice Halley

This is one shot from the stunning photo essay by Patrice Halley was featured on the ICTMN site this week. It takes viewers on an Inuit mussel dig in the Bay of Wakeham.

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Elders on Par with Teachers in Nunavut Schools

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in First Nations, Inuit

The Nunavut Department of Education in Canada recently certified five Inuit elders as Innait Inuksiutilirijiit, or teachers.

The distinction gives the elders the ability to become active instructors in the schools, connecting their knowledge to the formal education, ICTMN reports.

The Education Act passed in 2008 allows the certification. Elders are incorporated into the system to help preserve the culture and values of the Inuit.

    “Today is a great day for learning in Nunavut,” said Premier Eva Aariak in a statement after the February 2 ceremony. “The certification and recognition of Elders and their expertise is an important step in creating a Nunavut education system that is founded in Inuit culture, language and traditions.”

    Mary Akumalik, Sinea Kownirk, Serapio Ittusardjuat, Letia Tikivik and Sheepa Ishulutaq, all from Iqaluit, were the first Elders to be awarded this certification under the new Education Act, which stipulates in Section 102 that District Education Authorities (DEAs) may employ Elders to assist in teaching about Inuit culture, tradition and knowledge, the release said.

    On a par with faculty as well as the principal, guidance counselors and student support assistants, certified elders may participate in instruction of school programs, in concert with teachers and other school personnel.

Jenna Cederberg

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Here’s a few bites of news from the previous week, enjoy:

Courtesy photo, Native American Times

Courtesy photo, Native American Times

C&A Tribes create Oklahoma’s first educational tribal TV station
A conversation between old friends in 1992 has now turned into a TV station that is the first educational tribal channel. It will serve the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma.
As reported from a press release on the Native American Times, key to the completion of the project was Billy-Talako Williamson, who worked for 28 years to bring the station to life.

    The Federal Communications Commission issued an experimental license to the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes and on September 27th, 2010 the tribes received notice that they had been awarded a grant for construction of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Television Station.”

U.S. Attorney Cotter unveils Indian Country Crime Unit
This story on the Missoulian’s webpage details a new force that will be used to help Indian reservations prosecute crimes. Montana U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter’s office met with several tribes in Montana to introduce the unit.
A press release from the District of Montana detailed which assistant district attorneys will make up the Indian County Crime Unit in the state:

    The newly created Indian Country Crime Unit is comprised of six Assistant United States Attorneys, three of whom are filling new positions afforded by the Department of Justice in conjunction with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s initiative to focus on improving public safety in Indian Country nationally. The Unit is headed by veteran Indian Country Assistant United States Attorney Lori Suek (Billings). The team is comprised of attorneys Vince Carroll (Great Falls), Jessica Betley (Great Falls), Danna Jackson (Helena), Laura Weiss (Great Falls), and Mike Wolfe (Helena).

New documentary recounts bizarre climate changes seen by Inuit elders
We had a lot of movies on the Post recently (there are a lot of Native issues being brought to life on screen these days) as it coincides with Toronto’s imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival.
Here’s one more the check out: A subject in the documentary “Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian,” soon-to-run on PBS, acclaimed Nunavut filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk takes a look at the effects of global warming on Natives in northern Canada. “Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change,” with environmental scientist Ian Mauro.
Their findings are bleak, as reported by the Globe and Mail in a piece that ran before the documentary was screened. You can find a trailer for “Inuit Knowledge” with the story.

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The map above is titled “Sleeping on the Couch,” and that says it all.

It’s part of a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada on housing overcrowding in Canada’s North.

“Almost all social and health problems increase dramatically when combined with overcrowded housing,” Gilles Rhéaume, the conference board’s vice-president for public policy, tells Nunatsiaq News. “Crowded housing is an issue that clearly demonstrates a north-south divide in Canada.”

According to the report:

    In Statistics Canada’s Keewatin census division, which covers the Kivalliq region in Nunavut, 25 per cent of homes have six or more people living in them— the highest percentage of overcrowding in Canada.

    Close behind are regions in five provinces which also have census divisions showing that 10 per cent or more of the homes are overcrowded.

    These census divisions are:

    * Northern Manitoba (Division No. 23 Churchill) – 20 per cent
    * Northern Saskatchewan (Division No. 18, including La Ronge) – 18 per cent
    * Northern Newfoundland and Labrador (Division No. 11 Nunatsiavut area) – 14 per cent
    * Northern Quebec (Nunavik) – 14 per cent
    * Northwestern Alberta (Division No. 17) – 10 per cent

“Sleeping on the Couch” is the fifth map in a series from the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for the North.

Gwen Florio

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Inuit seal hunters ‘a lifesaver’ to Scottish kilt makers

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Inuit

The sporran is the furry pouch on the front of the kilt. (Getty Images photo)

The sporran is the furry pouch on the front of the kilt. (Getty Images photo)

The things you learn doing this blog.

For instance, did you know that the sporran, the fur-covered pouch on the front of a kilt, is made of sealskin? (For that matter, did you even know it was called a sporran? I sure didn’t.)

And that Europe has a ban on the importation of sealskin products?

What’s a kilt-clad Scot to do?

Enter the Inuit, according to a report by Randy Boswell in the Nunatsiaq News:

    The plan to seek continued sealskin shipments through Inuit suppliers was revealed Sept. 20 in British media reports quoting Ian Chisholm, a leading Aberdeen kilt maker and industry spokesman.

    Describing the proposed Inuit supply chain as a potential “lifesaver” for kilt makers, Chisholm pointed to special exemptions for Inuit hunters under the European ban, which has been slammed by the Canadian government and Inuit organizations.

Until the possibility of obtaining sealskins from the Inuit arose, kilt makers were facing the end of an era for traditional sporrans. Apparently synthetics or rabbit fur just won’t do.

“Nothing beats sealskin,” Chisholm says. “It has a quality of its own. It has a beautiful luster against the tartans of the kilts.”

There you have it.

Gwen Florio

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New York tribes to rally tomorrow in protest of Bloomberg’s “cowboy” remark

It’s a shame it takes a subscription to read all of this Newsday story, but the two-paragraph tease is pretty clear: “Native American outrage over New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s broadcast advice to Gov. David A. Paterson to ‘get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun’ [read full remarks in the New York Post] to collect Indian cigarette taxes will extend into next week with a rally at City Hall. Harry Wallace, chief of the Unkechaug Indian Nation of Mastic, a frequent target of the mayor, said Friday he was organizing the rally Monday.” Rest assured, we’ll keep you posted. The tax is supposed to go into effect Sept. 1.

Group seeks justice for missing, murdered aboriginal women
Cherry Smiley of the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network in Vancouver deals daily with the worst society dishes out to women – abuse, sexual exploitation, violence. And she has a pertinent question, especially on the issue of young girls finding themselves in these situations: “Why is society not horrified by what is happening here? This is not child labor, it’s child rape, yet the authorities have done little to deal with the pimps and perpetrators.” Valerie Talliman writes about it in Indian Country Today.

Assembly of First Nations seeks probe into police handling of serial killer case
And speaking of missing and murdered women – The Assembly of First Nations has joined other groups seeking a public probe into the way police in Vancouver, British Columbia, handled the caes of serial killer Robert Pickton. Many of Pickton’s victims were First Nations women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, said National Chief Shawn Atleo, who is a hereditary chief from Ahousaht. “A full and comprehensive public inquiry, with the participation of aboriginal people, is the only way to address the need for respect, justice and a better understanding of how we can prevent these tragedies in the future,” Atleo tells the Montreal Gazette here.

Las Vegas union makes contentious move to organize Navajo casino staff
Accusations and counter-accusations are flying as Culinary Workers Union Local 226, based in Las Vegas, attempts to unionize staff at the Fire Rock Navajo Casino. The union says casino management has been intimidating workers and trying to discourage them from signing up; management says it’s following the letter of the law. Bill Donovan, special to the Navajo Times, lays it all out.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to visit Inuit territories this week

Prime Minister Stephen Harper starts a five-day swing through all three northern territories starting tomorrow. The trip will kick off with a visit to Churchill, Man. Aug. 23. Harper will stop in Cambridge Bay Aug. 24, and then to to Resolute Bay on Aug. 25, the Nunatsiaq News reports here.

Gwen Florio

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A Quebec archeologist has unearthed the ghostly carving of a face left buried on a remote Arctic island inhabited nearly 1,000 years ago by the long-lost Dorset, or Tuniit, culture — the people who disappeared from the eastern Arctic when the ancestors of today's Inuit arrived in what is now Canada. (Robert Frechette/Avataq Cultural Institute)

A Quebec archeologist has unearthed the ghostly carving of a face left buried on a remote Arctic island inhabited nearly 1,000 years ago by the long-lost Dorset, or Tuniit, culture — the people who disappeared from the eastern Arctic when the ancestors of today's Inuit arrived in what is now Canada. (Robert Frechette/Avataq Cultural Institute)

The Nunatsiaq News, of Nunavut, reports that a Quebec archeologist working on a remote Arctic island inhabited nearly 1,000 years ago by the extinct Dorset – or Tuniit – culture has unearthed a significant find, a carving of a face.

As Randy Boswell of Postmedia News writes here, the Tuniit mysteriously vanished from Canada’s North after the ancestors of modern-day Inuit arrived. Of the carving, he writes:

    The small, elaborately sculpted “maskette” — possibly worn as an amulet by a shaman serving as a Dorset tribe’s guide to the spiritworld — is believed to have been made from walrus ivory and was found on one of the Nuvuk Islands at the northwestern tip of Quebec’s Ungava Peninsula.

    Traces of the long-lost Dorset people, who are known to have evolved an artistically advanced society despite their harsh Arctic living conditions, are among the most prized discoveries in Canadian archaeology.

    And the carved face, possibly meant to depict a female elder who provided leadership to her community, represents a particularly evocative image, with ears, eyes, nose and mouth all clearly defined on the elongated piece of ivory.

“It may have had some kind of shamanic meaning, but of course we can only offer various possible explanations. Alternatively it could have served as a toy, or some kind of good luck amulet,” says Susan Lofthouse, an archeologist with the Montreal-based Avataq Cultural Institute.

The carving was discovered last year during a dig at a known Dorset dwelling site by a group, led by Lofthouse, of Inuit high school students from nearby Ivujivik, along with graduate students from Universite Laval and Universite de Montreal.

The maskette is just five centimeters high.

It’s thought that maybe horizontal lines etched below its mouth could represent facial tattoos historically worn by Inuit women, and maybe by Dorset, too.

Gwen Florio

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Qisirtutauyaq (juniper), cloudberrry, crowberry and more – those are the flavors of herbal tea made in Nunavik that have earned a national culinary achievement award in Canada.

Sarah Rogers of Nunatsiaq News reports here that the honor to the Avataq cultural institute in Nunavik was among six Governor General’s awards given in Ottawa last month.

The ingredients used in the blends are harvested by people in Nunavik and shipped south. They sell under the name Northern Delights. As Rogers writes:

    Harvesting ingredients for the tea in Nunavik ( photo)

    Harvesting ingredients for the tea in Nunavik ( photo)

    Avataq was recognized under the “stewardship and sustainability” category for helping support traditional Inuit activities as well as preserve ancestral knowledge of plants in the region.

    “We’re all really happy,” said Taqralik Partridge, an Avataq spokesperson. “The teas have been really popular, but we needed an emphasis to take it to the next level.”

    Avataq’s president, Charlie Arngak, attended a June 23 awards ceremony at Rideau Hall, where the teas have been served for many years.

There are five flavors – ground juniper (qisirtutauyaq), Labrador tea (mamaittuqutik), cloudberry (arpiqutik), Arctic blend (ukiurtatuq) and crowberry (paurngaqutik.)

Read more about them here, where you’ll learn, among other things, that qisirtutauyaq is believed to be good for colds.

Rogers reports that Avataq hopes to expand to the U.S. market. Fingers crossed!

Gwen Florio

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It’s National Aboriginal Day in Canada!

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in aboriginal, First Nations, Inuit, Metis

Enjoy the day!

Gwen Florio

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Manitoba deputy premier Eric Robinson will be among those present today when for the national hearing of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in Winnipeg.

The idea, CBC reports here, is to expose and deal with the pain and suffering caused by residential schools. Robinson has first-hand experience with that. He was a student at the Jack River School in Norway House, Manitoba, where he was sexually abused by a priest. And yet, he counts himself relatively fortunate:

    “My father was a student at one of these places, went there for seven or eight years, never learned anything more than how to write his name, but he sure became a good farmhand.

    “My mother went … at the age of three. She came out when she was 18 to a world of alcoholism and drug abuse and she died alone on the streets of Winnipeg at the age of 31 when I was 11 years old.”

Some 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, about 85,000 still living, were forced to attend the government- and church-run schools, the last of which closed in 1996.

Some of those survivors filed a class-action lawsuit, and the $60 million commission is the result.

Gwen Florio

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