Inuit People: Melting Ice, Shifting Stars, North not North

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Inuit communities, elders and hunters, speak regarding social and ecological impacts of a warming Arctic and their conception of poles shifting, winds different, stars unrecognized. A Labrador Inuit Aurora Borealis myth illuminates their traditional connection with the stars.

global warming and the arctic ocean

Climate shifts in the Arctic home of the Inuit People are melting ice sheets, eroding the region’s coastlines, and shrinking habitat for polar bears, caribou, and other animals they have long relied on for sustenance. As global warming triggers heavier rainfall and faster snowmelt in the Arctic, Inuit communities in Canada are reporting more cases of illness attributed to pathogens that have washed into surface water and groundwater. Image from “Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change.”

“The Tilting of the Earth Changes Everything…”

Nunavut-based director Zacharias Kunuk (Atanarjuat The Fast Runner) and researcher and filmmaker Dr. Ian Mauro (Seeds of Change) have teamed up with Inuit communities to document their knowledge and experience regarding climate change. This documentary, the world’s first Inuktitut language film on the topic, takes the viewer “on the land” with elders and hunters to explore the social and ecological impacts of a warming Arctic.

To See the Film: Qapirangajuq – Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change

The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada (Northwest Territories, Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut, Nunatukavut), Greenland, Siberia and Alaska. Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language. An Inuk is an Inuit person. The Inuit language is grouped under Eskimo–Aleut languages.

The Inuit live throughout most of the Canadian Arctic and subarctic: in the territory of Nunavut (“our land”); the northern third of Quebec, in an area called Nunavik (“place to live”); the coastal region of Labrador, in areas called Nunatsiavut (“our beautiful land”) and Nunatukavut (“Our Ancient Land”); in various parts of the Northwest Territories, mainly on the coast of the Arctic Ocean and formerly in the Yukon. Collectively these areas are known as Inuit Nunangat.

Photo by Natalia Robba via Flickr

Inuit Mythology Regarding the Aurora Borealis

(Reported by Ernest W. Hawkes in Labrador)

The ends of the land and sea are bounded by an immense abyss, over which a narrow and dangerous pathway leads to the heavenly regions. The sky is a great dome of hard material arched over the Earth. There is a hole in it through which the spirits pass to the true heavens. Only the spirits of those who have died a voluntary or violent death, and the Raven, have been over this pathway. The spirits who live there light torches to guide the feet of new arrivals. This is the light of the aurora. They can be seen there feasting and playing football with a walrus skull. The whistling crackling noise which sometimes accompanies the aurora is the voices of these spirits trying to communicate with the people of the Earth. They should always be answered in a whispering voice. Youths dance to the aurora. The heavenly spirits are called selamiut, “sky-dwellers,” those who live in the sky.

Inuit People on Pole Shift

http://www.isuma.tv/inuit-knowledge-and-climate-change/movie

Traditional Wind-Navigation Markers – Tongue Drifts – Have Shifted

 

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Planners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt