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Qanuq Ilitaavut: “How We Learned What We Know” (Wales Inupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary)

Abstract

The chapter discusses a collaborative effort to document more than 120 local Inupiaq terms for sea ice and associated vocabulary in the community of Wales, Alaska, in 2007–2008. The value of recording indigenous words for sea ice as a key to understanding indigenous knowledge of sea ice was first tested during an earlier project on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska (2000–2002). Under the SIKU initiative, more than 20 of such local ice vocabularies were collected in indigenous communities in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka, Russia. In Wales, Winton Weaypuk, a boat captain and a speaker of the Kingikmiut dialect, led the effort to collect local ice terms, documented elders’ knowledge about ice, and took more than 100 photos of various ice-related activities in the Wales area. Traditional words for ice, illustrations of local ice forms, and the Inupiaq explanations and English translations collected for the project would be of help to young hunters, so that the knowledge is preserved for future generations.

Keywords

  • Sea ice
  • Wales
  • Alaska
  • Inupiaq
  • Indigenous terminologies

Contributing authors: Herbert Anungazuk and Lawrence D. Kaplan.

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Acknowledgments

The work on the Wales Inupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary was sponsored by the grant from the “Shared Beringia Heritage Program,” National Park Service, Alaska Office, with additional support from the SIZONet project at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks (NSF OPP 0632398) and the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. We are grateful to our team members, Herbert Anungazuk, Hajo Eicken, Matthew Druckenmiller, Lawrence D. Kaplan for their constant support and for many helpful edits to an earlier draft of this chapter. Our prime Inupiaq consultants, Faye Ongtowasruk and Pete Sereadlook, generously shared their knowledge with us. We appreciate the support of the Native Community of Wales and of the Wales Village IRA Council that endorsed our work in 2007. Many people made valuable contribution to the production of the dictionary, including Elizabeth Clancy, Rene Payne, and Lisa Crunk at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science; Martha Shulski at the Alaska Climate Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Carol Zane Jolles at the University of Washington. Ronald H. Brower, Sr., and Josh Wisniewski compiled sea ice lists from Barrow, Wainwright, and Shishmaref we used to compare people’s knowledge of ice in various Alaskan communities. Hajo Eicken, Shari Gearheard, and Gita Laidler kindly read the first draft of this chapter; Carol Jolles, Amber Lincoln, and Matthew Druckenmiller shared their photographs for the dictionary. Matt also produced a map that is used as illustration. We thank you all, Quyana!

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Appendix: Alphabetical List of Kingikmiut Sea Ice Terms and Related Vocabulary, 2008

Appendix: Alphabetical List of Kingikmiut Sea Ice Terms and Related Vocabulary, 2008

(Prepared by Winton Weyapuk, Jr., with edits by Herbert Anungazuk and Lawrence D. Kaplan. Plural forms are given in parenthesis; verb forms are followed by a hyphen)

Ice Forms and Conditions

Analuaq (analuat) piece of floe ice that has walrus droppings on it

Auksaaniq (auksaanit) hole melted into or through shorefast ice or floe ice

Auniq (aunġit) “rotten” ice, very unsafe, shorefast ice or pack ice that is thin and has many melted holes in it

Ikalitiq (ikalitit)/ikalitaq  ice floe grounded in shallow water (usually refers to smaller floes)

Iluqnauq (iluqnaut)  large ice floe, up to one-half square mile in size or larger

Iluqnauqpak (iluqnauqpait)  very large ice floe, up to one mile long or more

Imaġruk  very large and wide lead; also uinivak; a large pond of open water within pack ice

Imauraq  small open pond of water within pack ice or a large ice floe

Inipkaq (inipkat)??  multi-year ice, or old ice (HA); check Shishmaref kiniqtaq

Itiġliq (itiġlit)  large opening in shorefast ice, such as a bay or cove; also refers to the end of a lead with shorefast ice on one side and pack ice on the other (literally “a place you can enter”)

Iuuk- the sound of ice piling up in ridges [a verb stem, meaning “make the sound of… ” The correct form is iuuktuq, “it (ice) is making noise as it piles up”]

Iuniq (iunġit)  pressure ridge formed on shorefast ice

Iunilauraq (iunilaurat) small pressure ridge formed within shorefast ice

Iunivak (iunivait) very large pressure ridge on shorefast ice

Kaivsraaqtuaq ice floe that is rotating in the current; large ice floe that is rotating as one end nudges other ice floes or shorefast ice (literally, to go round and round)

Kaiquk ice with overhanging shelf, dangerous to step on (in the north slope dialect this term means “bay along edge of the ice”)

Mitivik ice crystals floating in the ocean or a fishing hole

Mituglak  surface of shorefast ice or pack ice that has been changed by rain from a smooth surface to a rough surface with ice crystals

Nazirvik ice floe or floe berg with a pressure ridge that can be climbed to look around; means “look out place” and can be also used on land; see also puktaaq (a look out place)

Nuti’aġuugvik  very thick slush; pancake ice

Puikaaniq (puikaanit)  piece of vertically lifted ice; standing chunk of ice

Puilauq (puilaut) piece of ice that has broken off underwater from an ice floe or shorefast ice and surfaced, can be dangerous if it hits a boat or outboard motor

Puktaaġruaq (puktaaġruat) small ice floe, small floe berg

Puktaaq (puktaat)  ice floe, floe berg

Puktaaqpak (puktaaqpait) very large ice floe, very large floe berg

Puktaaqpak ikalititaaga  iceberg that has become “stuck” by grounding in shallow water

Qaimuġuq (qaimuġut)  berm along shore formed when slush and brash ice and the water from waves freezes on the beach; snow drifts on the shorefast ice and tundra 1–2 ft high that resemble waves

Qamiyanaqtuaq  pack ice that is packed tightly together

Qamaiyaq  pack ice that has been packed tightly together by a large eddy current; bow waves of a seal, walrus, or whale swimming underwater visible on top the water

Qaataruaq ice floe floating free after high tide; overhanging ice floe

Qaaptiniq  overflow on shorefast ice or ice on a lagoon; water splashed on top of ice around a seal breathing hole

Qaupik/qauuk  ice shove; pack ice or shorefast ice that is pushed onto land by wind and current; cf. Ivu – the term used in the north slope dialect; can be very dangerous if it threatens people who are unaware it is happening

Qinu  slush, slush ice on open water; see also nutiġaġuugvik

Qinuliaq “becoming slush”; light slush in ocean water just beginning to form

Quppaq (quppait) crack in the shorefast ice or ice floe

Qupniq (qupnit) crack on shorefast ice or ice floe that has re-frozen

Saalguraq  thin fresh water ice on still waters. Also applies in spring conditions when melt water on sea ice freezes (HA)

Saaak (saaait) “dirt,” small broken pieces of brash ice

Siġimizimaaqtuaq  pack ice that has been grounded into small pieces by moving against shorefast ice (description, not a specific ice term)

Sigu ocean pack ice, also a generic term that refers to all sea ice, including shore fast ice

Siguliaksraq  “that which will become young ice,” grease ice

Siguliaq young ice, gray or gray-white in color

Sigum izua  the end of a floating mass of pack ice, the open ocean edge of a floating strip of pack ice (HA);

Sigum kaiġaa  the extent of the pack ice (FO, PS, and WW); sigum kaia (HA)

Sigu qayua qaatuaq  ice that has sand on top

Sigu taatuaq  pack ice that is “coming in,” pack ice approaching land or shorefast ice; also known as sigu agituaq

Sigu uituaq  pack ice that is moving out and forming a lead

Siguturuaq  area that has a lot of pack ice

Sigutuvaktuaq  area that has a lot of heavy pack ice

Siguiq-  to become free of sea ice

Siguitpaktuaq  area that has very little pack ice

Siuġaq  point along the edge of shorefast ice that sticks out from the rest of the ice; also nuvuk in the north slope dialect (HA)

Suatlaq scatter consisting of slush and ice that is weakly connected to land-fast ice or large ice floes; a dangerous place (HA); see sana ak above

Tamalaaniqtuaq  pack ice that is scattered enough to boat through

Tasrraatuaq  pack ice that is moving tightly against the edge of shorefast ice

Tuaġituq  smooth, flat section shorefast ice

Tuaq  shorefast ice, landfast ice

Tuwaiq- to break up (of shorefast ice); for shorefast ice to break off and drift away from the shore

Tuwaiġniq (tuwaiġnit)  piece of shorefast ice that has broken off from the shore and is floating free

Tunuruaq  grounded pressure ridge or ice floe

Uiniq  open lead that has formed between pack ice and the shorefast ice

Uinġum izua  end of the open lead, the corner of the open lead with pack ice on one side and shorefast ice on the other side; also known as uinġum kaiġaa

Uinġum taġġaa  “the open lead’s shadow”– a dark reflection of open water in a lead on low clouds; see also qissuk

Uinavak very large and wide lead; also ima’ruk – heavy water in lagoon (HA)

Utuqaq old winter ice or also known as multi-year ice, which usually arrives in the Bering Strait in the last week of November (HA)

Uuyuaq scattered ice and slush cemented onto land-fast ice and subject to removal by current or wind action; a very dangerous type of ice to walk on (HA); “extension ice,” literally an extension of something

Ice-Associated Terms

Allu (allut)  seal breathing hole in the shore ice

Alluaq (alluat)  fishing hole chipped out on the shorefast ice or in cracks in new ice (siguliaq)

Anisaaq  visible breath of whales or walrus; the breath of a whale visible from a long ways away without the whale being visible; the sound of a whale breathing within pack ice

Attaaq-  for a sea mammal, such as a bowhead whale or beluga whale, to swim underneath shorefast ice (attaaqtuq- “it swims underneath”)

Atiqtaq (atiqtat)  person or persons who drift away on the moving ice (HA)

Auhaaniq (auhaanit)  fresh melt water on top of sea ice

Auun  paddle or oar; can be used to listen for sea mammal vocalizations underwater

Ayaupiaq  slender pole with an ice testing tip on one end and a hook at the other end; it is dangerous to walk on questionable ice without an ayaupiaq

Auyuuq  male bearded seal making its mating calls underwater; to “sing” of an ugruk

Auyuuġluk-  to listen for seal, walrus, and whale calls underwater using a paddle with one end placed against an ear and the other end underwater

Iluaq  seal’s maternal den; a den near a pressure ridge where a newborn seal resides until it is old enough to leave

Imaq  ice-free ocean or sea

Inipkaq  for there to be a mirage; ice, land, or water loom above the horizon; when pack ice appears as a white line along the horizon

Iqak-, igaktaaq-  to catch a fish by jigging through a fishing hole or crack on shorefast ice; to jig for fish

Iziq  “smoke”; frost smoke over open water

Issuaq-  to look through a fishing hole made for spear fishing to the bottom of shallow water; to look underwater

Kagiaq-  to go spear fishing on shorefast ice (kagiaqtuq- he caught something spear fishing)

Mauhigutaaq-/mauraaq  to cross open water by jumping from one ice floe to another

Mapsa  overhanging snow cornice on the edge of shorefast ice; very dangerous

Mauqsruq-  to watch for seals or other sea mammals from the edge of shore-fast ice or pack ice

Mauqsravik  place on shorefast ice or pack ice from which to watch for seals or other sea mammals

Mitiiun/mitiġmiutaq  screened ice scoop for removing ice crystals from a fishing hole

Naġituaq  low place on shorefast ice or on ice floe, where a boat can be pulled out

Nakkaq-  for a sea mammal to dive into water from shorefast ice or pack ice

Nalunaitkutaq  marker on trail; marker at the boat launch site

Nannum ilua  polar bear maternal den on shorefast ice

Nunavak (nunavait)  walrus on top of an ice floe

Pituqi (pituqit)  ramp cut into the edge of shorefast ice for launching boats

Pituqiuġvik  marker at the boat launch site

Pituqiliuq  to make a boat ramp on the edge of shorefast ice

Puizri (puizrit)  sea mammal, or seal that surfaces in a lead or open water

Puiyaq-  for a sea mammal or piece of ice to surface in a lead or open water

Qagi-  for a sea mammal to climb onto shorefast ice or pack ice

Qaksraq (qaksrat)  seal sleeping on shorefast ice or pack ice (WW); any sea mammal on ice until positively identified (HA)

Qamiyaq-  to pull a boat over a section of pack ice to open water or shorefast ice

Qissuk  “water sky”; reflection of open water on low clouds or frost smoke

Quqsruaniq  reflection of pack ice on low clouds on the horizon; also qauksraaġniq (HA)

Saġvaq  current; ocean current, also verb saġvaq- to flow (of current)

Taglu (tagluk)  snowshoe made for walking on new ice (siguliaq); dl. – pair of snowshoes

Tuwaiyauti-  for a person, animal, or thing to drift away on a broken piece of shorefast ice

Tutqiksrivik  place with a layer of snow on shorefast ice, near a pressure ridge, where a boat and gear can be stored up side down, and the sides of the boat banked with snow to protect gear under the boat. The bow of the boat is anchored to a piece of ice.

Tuuq, tuuq-  long-handled ice chipping tool; to chip an ice fishing hole on shorefast ice

Tumi (tumit)/tuvi  trail over shorefast ice; cf. tumisaaq – a trail on land

Tuvli-  to cut or make a trail (over shorefast ice)

Uqqutaq  windbreak wall built around a fishing hole; a windbreak wall built on shorefast ice or pack ice

Uqsruġaq  oil slick in an open lead or open water, often left by a wounded animal

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Krupnik, I., Weyapuk, W.(. (2010). Qanuq Ilitaavut: “How We Learned What We Know” (Wales Inupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary). In: Krupnik, I., Aporta, C., Gearheard, S., Laidler, G., Kielsen Holm, L. (eds) SIKU: Knowing Our Ice. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-8587-0_14

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