The Sea, the Land, the Coast, and the Winds: Understanding Inuit Sea Ice Use in Context

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter attempts to place Inuit sea ice knowledge in a broader context, first in connection to the knowledge of other environmental features and second within the practices of Inuit spatial orienteering and travel. The premise of this chapter is that any attempt to understand aspects of Inuit environmental knowledge without taking into account the context of mobility is limiting, as travel was an integral part of Inuit life before their establishment in permanent settlements. Inuit identities and environmental knowledge were historically connected not only to specific places (like a camp or the floe edge) but also, and significantly, to life on the move. The land, the sea, the floe edge, the shores, the sky, and the winds are all inseparable parts of the environment in which Inuit live. This chapter describes the two distinctive environments in which Inuit life takes place, namely the land and the sea, as well as the highly significant environment constituted by the shores, and how they all fit into a broader spatial framework constituted by the winds. The research for this chapter was undertaken in Igloolik, Nunavut.

Keywords

Inuit Sea ice Wayfinding Navigation Spatial perception 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This chapter could not have been written without the support and help of Igloolik hunters, elders, and friends. Beyond the experts cited in the reference list, Louis Tapardjuk, Maurice Arnatsiaq, and Theo Ikummaq were key in helping with trips, translations, and interpretations. John MacDonald provided feedback and insight on the early stages of this research. Funding for this research was provided by an IPY Canada research grant and by earlier SSHRC and Wenner-Gren grants. I would also like to thank Igor Krupnik, Gita Laidler, Chase Morrison, and Tim De Leo Browne for their comments and edits on earlier drafts. All mistakes and inaccuracies are my sole responsibility.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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