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Snow Owl October, 2003

      Inuit are a people who live near the Arctic . Their homeland stretches from the northeastern tip of Russia across Alaska and northern Canada to parts of Greenland . Inuit refers to the people formerly called Eskimos. The term Eskimo comes from a Native American word that may have meant 'eater of raw meat'. They prefer the name Inuit, which means 'the people' or 'real people' and comes from a language called Inuit-Inupiaq. The singular of Inuit is Inuk, which means 'person'.

      As the Inuit spread eastward, they modified their way of life to suit the Arctic environments they encountered. They caught fish and hunted seals, walruses and whales. On land, they hunted caribou, musk oxen, polar bear and other small animals. They used animal skins to make tents and clothes. They crafted tools and weapons from the animals' bones, antlers, horns and teeth. In summer, they traveled in boats covered with animal skin, called kayaks and in winter, on sleds pulled by dogteams. Most Inuit lived in tents in the summer and in large sod houses during the winter. When traveling in search of game in winter, they built snowhouses.


     The Inuit live in one of the coldest and harshest regions of the world. Inuit lands include the northeastern tip of Siberia , the islands of the Bering Sea , and the coastal regions of mainland Alaska . They also include the north coast and islands of the Canadian Arctic and most of the west coast and part of the east coast of Greenland . The region is often called the Land of the Midnight Sun because at a certain point of the year the sun can be seen for twenty-four hours. At the North Pole, the sun never sets for six months from about March 20 to September 23. Around the Arctic Circle , however, such a period of uninterrupted sunlight lasts for only a few days around June 21.


    The communities in the Arctic are centers for trade, commerce, culture and education. The sizes range from as small as a few people to much larger centers with a few thousand people. However large or small, each community has its own history and is surrounded by its own unique landscape.


       The Inuit are a race of people both strong in spirit and in mind. The Inuit cultural identity is firmly rooted in nature and the land. It is maintained through storytelling, drum dancing, language, family and cultural laws and traditions, the passing on of traditional hunting and survival skills and traditional arts and crafts.


      The traditional way of life has ended for most Inuit. They live in wooded homes rather than snowhouses, sod houses or tents. They wear modern clothing instead of animal skin garments. Most Inuit speak English, Russian, or Danish in addition to their native language. The kayak and the umiak have given way to motor boats, the snowmobile has replaced the dog team. Today's Inuit must compete in the modern economic world instead of the world of nature. While some Inuit have adjusted to the new way of life, unemployment, suicide and addiction are major problems. On top of all that, industrial and nuclear pollution are poisoning their traditional homelands and food sources.


     Hunting techniques and harvesting patterns have changed drastically over the past several decades. No longer are the Inuit subjected to only the dogsled and kayak. With the age of technology, snowmobiles, outboard motor boats and high-powered rifles have become familiar in everyday lives. The modern Inuit can now hunt with much more ease than their ancestors.


      Only recently have land claim agreements been signed, allowing the aboriginal peoples a hold a legal claim to what they have always considered to be thei land.

Pond Inlet (Mittimatalik), Baffin Island 
      Pond Inlet or Mittimatalik in Inuktitut is at the Northeastern tip of Baffin Island . Canada s newest National Park, Sirmilik National Park is recognized as a bird sanctuary and wildlife refuge.

     The area itself is known as Nunavut and is Canada s Newest Territory . Formed on April 1, 1999 the new Capital, Iqaluit is located on Baffin Island .


      The Inuit community of Pond Inlet is located at the northeastern end of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. The population is a little over one thousand people (95 per cent Inuit, 5 per cent non-Inuit). The native language spoken by Inuit is Inuktitut and although English is spoken, Inuktitut is still the most commonly used language.

       At 7241' North and 7758' West, Pond Inlet is 644 km (400 miles) above the Arctic Circle . The Inuktitut name for the area has always been "Mittimatalik," meaning "the place where Mittima is buried." The Inuit also refer to the Pond Inlet area as "purtujuq" which means land with depth. The gorgeous rugged mountain scenery of Bylot Island provides the land "with the depth" to which Inuit refer.

      People have lived in the Pond Inlet for a long time, as noted by the numerous Dorset and Thule archaeological sites. More recently, the first Europeans to explore the area were Robert Bylot and William Baffin who in 1616, discovered the entrance to Lancaster Sound .

     The name " Ponds Bay " was first given in 1818 to the land about 5 km east of the present settlement. A British explorer, John Ross, named the area after John Ponds, the Astronomer Royal. The first white settlers to the community moved the name over to the town's present location.


     The hours of light and darkness may be unusual for the visitor to Pond Inlet, but the changes are not sudden. Even on December 21st (the shortest and darkest day) a faint strip of light can be viewed from the southern hills at midday . In fact over a year, northerners receive about the same amount of light as their southern neighbours -- it's just that it's distributed a bit differently!

     Depending on the clouds, the sun will be last seen above the horizon on November 11 each year, but there are still many hours of twilight. On, or around the 2nd of February, the sun peeks above the southern hills for a few minutes. At this time of the year, the sunlight increases by about 20 minutes per day and by mid-April Pond Inlet has no darkness.

      From mid-May to mid-July the sun does not go behind the mountains of Bylot Island and we have 24 hours daylight. This is known as the "Midnight Sun" -- a sight never to be forgotten!


Toonoonik Sahoonik Co-operative Ltd. is Nunavut s largest Co-op with over 700 members and $7,000,000 in assets. Owned exclusively by the people of Pond Inlet the Co-op operates 13 business divisions including a retail store, hotel, tour outfitter, construction company, heavy equipment, snow machine dealerships, cable broadcasting, fuel products, rental properties, airline agency, restaurant, service contracts and an art gallery. 

Jaykoasie Killiktee and Isaac Killiktee;
President and VP of Toonoonik Shoonik Co-Op. Ltd. 

Erica Anaviapik and her nephews at the Community Hall, Dec. 31, 2002 . 
Erica is a member/owner of the Co-op. 
     Locally produced art is available in several mediums. Carvings from Soapstone, granite, marble, ivory, antler and whalebone are the most common. 

     The whalebone is from the bone yard when whaling was a way of life pre-1920. The aged bone has a unique appearance that when put in the hands of an artist becomes a statement of culture and creativity. 
The ivory comes mainly from the tusk of the narwhale, a whale with a unicorn like horn, which is actually a tusk. 

     Regulations limit or restrict the export of marine mammal parts so shipping outside of Canada without proper permits is not possible. 

Inukshuk Artist: Mitusalie Atagootak 
Piece #: 5260 
Medium: Soapstone 
Exportable: Yes 
HxLxD in inches: 10 x 12 x 1.5 
Price (Canadian): $150 
includes shipping, handling and taxes 

Kayak Artist: Tahpesa Kasarnak 
Piece #: 5505 
Medium: Soapstone, wood, bone 
Exportable: yes 
HxLxD in inches: 2 x 4 x 4 
Price (Canadian): $180 
includes shipping, handling and taxes 

Killerwhale Artist: Johnny Anguirjuaq 
Piece #: 3480 
Medium: Soapstone 
Exportable: Yes 
HxLxD in inches: 4.5 x 7 x 2 
Price (Canadian): $240 
includes shipping, handling and taxes 

Below are Links to Inuit Pages
[ Inuit Page 1 ] [ Inuit Page 2 ] [ Inuit Page 3 ] [ Inuit Page 4 ] [ Inuit Page 5 ]

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[ Native American People/Tribes Contents Page ] [ The Abenaki ] [ The Algonquin ]
[ The Anazasi ] [ The Blackfoot Nation ] [ The Cherokee ] [ The Comanche ]
[ Haida People ] [ The Hopi-Navajo-Zuni ] [ Inuit People Page 1 ] [ The Kiowa ]
[ The Kootenai ] [ The Louisiana Indians ] [ Natchez Trace and the People ]
[ The Penobscots ] [ The Pequot ] [ The Great Sioux Nation ] [ The Tlingit Nation ]
[ The Wampanoag ]

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