Saturday, March 2, 2024


     George, my first cousin once removed, can ask some questions that are far out of the box. George reads my blog but does not comment but makes contact by messenger. These are great questions and make one go back and take a good look at what was said. I always think faster than I type. Neither one of them is very fast. 

    George wanted to know on what basis I said that the skills and loss of will were lost . I should have said much of it was lost. They still celebrate traditions but do not depend on hunting for food. 

     First , I didn't stress enough that this was in 1967 -69. It was a much different age and time. I made a statement that the Inuit lost hunting skills and a will to hunt. Maybe I should have said most. 

    The economy in the Arctic was changing rapidly. There was much employment for wages. There were various DEW lines constructed in the 50's. Many men were employed. They had lots of money.  However, this was largely part time. They did not have any dogs and this was before skidoos. So it was difficult to hunt. 

   There were many sad reasons as to why there was  next to no hunting. 

   Inuit were nomads. They followed the game. Once they moved into villages they were much less mobile. A hunter now went out with other men on skidoos. Women who were a part of the hunting did not go. Women did the butchering. Women prepared the skins for trade or use in making clothing. All clothing I saw in 67 to 69 was made of cloth. There was fur trim. So their hunting pattern was severely disrupted. Once you get used to a heated wood house it's hard to go back to staying in a snow house. 

    Where I was, the hunters would go out in the fall for a week or ten days hunting caribou. They would come back with about 20 animals. This wouldn't go far to feed 200 people. They always gave me some meat. They also went fishing for Arctic char for a week or ten days. They also included me and gave me fish. Arctic char is the best fish I ever ate. Locally they hunted seals. They may have got  3 or 4 seals in one day and then may have not gone sealing for another  week. One little seal can be eaten very quickly by a dozen people. They gave me seal liver which was the best liver I ever ate. However seal meat was awful. I tried to cook it. It is better frozen and raw or heated a bit. 

    Where I was there were 4 or 5 good hunters and the rest went out rarely and didn't get much as they didn't know where to find the animals. Sitting at a seal breathing hole waiting for a seal takes great patience and it's incredibly cold.

    They were subsistence hunters. In other words they hunted to survive. 

    George, at one time our dads farmed with horses. Neither one of us are farmers or would want to be farmers. There are too many other opportunities. I wonder if either one of us could work with horses. Most of all we could not make a living. We have found more lucrative and challenging ways of making a living.

    A similar thing has happened to the Inuit. they have found better ways to make a living. Dr Joey Carpenter from Banks Island was a surgeon at the hospital in Brandon Man, He practiced for close to 40 years. At one time the Carpenter family was the only family living on Banks Island. 

   Yes, today some people do a lot of hunting. Much of it is for sport. 

   It's a complicated issue and a brief over view is not enough to understand the situation. 

    This is in the western Arctic. I didn't catch any fish that day