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The Social Culture of the Nunivak Eskimo

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... In this paper, blunt force and blade inflicted cranial traumas are described for a skeletal collection from Nunivak Island, Alaska. According to ethnographic accounts, interpersonal violence and warfare among the earlier peoples of Nunivak Island were relatively rare (Lantis, 1946). The only groups they consistently fought with were Eskimos from the interior of Alaska along the Yukon River (Lantis, 1946). ...
... According to ethnographic accounts, interpersonal violence and warfare among the earlier peoples of Nunivak Island were relatively rare (Lantis, 1946). The only groups they consistently fought with were Eskimos from the interior of Alaska along the Yukon River (Lantis, 1946). Aside from the bow and arrow, Lantis (1946) does not describe any other weaponry used in these conflicts but states that close quarters fighting did occur when villages were raided. ...
... The only groups they consistently fought with were Eskimos from the interior of Alaska along the Yukon River (Lantis, 1946). Aside from the bow and arrow, Lantis (1946) does not describe any other weaponry used in these conflicts but states that close quarters fighting did occur when villages were raided. Presumably, the same close quarters fighting occurred when the Nunivakers were the aggressors as well as the defenders. ...
Article
Cranial trauma is investigated in a skeletal collection from Nunivak Island, Alaska. Eleven cases of cranial trauma were observed. These included 6 adult males and 5 adult females, representing a frequency of 11.5% among the males and 6.9% for females in the sample. Statistical analysis indicates no significant difference in the occurrence of trauma in this sample between males and females. The wound types include both blunt force trauma and blade weapon inflicted. Seven of the wounds show signs of healing or have healed completely, whereas the other 4 show no indication of healing and were most likely directly related to the cause of death. Finally, a skull of a middle adult (35- 49 years) male exhibits a bony “bar” within the right eye orbit extending from the superior margin of the orbit to the lacrimal bone. This is possibly the result of a healed trauma and may be an ossification of the orbicularis oculi. This research was funded in part by the Smithsonian Institution Office of Repatriation. A special thanks must also be made to the people of Nunivak Island for allowing this research to be conducted at the University of Alaska. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Volume 117, Supplement 34: 100 (Abstract).
... In order to be effective, discourse needed to occur at the proper times and places and be conducted in the proper manner. Community-wide rituals, such as the winter Yup'ik Bladder Festival, involved feasting with the bladders of seals, walrus, and caribou 9 taken that year, and then returning them to the sea so that the animals would offer themselves again in the spring (Fienup- Riordan 1983Riordan , 1990aRiordan , 1994Himmelheber 2000:117-130;Lantis 1946Lantis :182-187, 1947Morrow 1984;E. Nelson [1899E. ...
... Good relations with the yuit of animals required that hunters take and process animals properly, treating their fl esh and bones in prescribed ways. Bones required special treatment among Yupiit (Fienup-Riordan 1994:62, 107-112, 117;Lantis 1946Lantis :193-195, 1947Oswalt and VanStone 1967:70), as they did among Inupiat and Asiatic Eskimo (Hill 2011;Krupnik and Vakhtin 1997;Søby 1969Søby /1970 and Athabaskans of interior Alaska (Boraas and Peter 2008; Nelson 1983). Such patterned human behaviors leave material traces that are identifi able archaeologically. ...
... In Central Alaskan Yup'ik, the nominative singular is yuk (Fortescue et al. 1994:137;Jacobson 1984:415); in Cup'ig, it is cug. Formerly, in Cup'ig orthography, cug was spelled cuk (or cux in Lantis 1946). The singular possessive form of yuk is yua (its person); Cup'ig cua. ...
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In 1971, Ernest S. Burch identified "nonempirical phenomena" as variables in travel and settlement decision-making among Iñupiaq Eskimo of Northwest Alaska. This article parses the term "nonempirical" and advocates the use of Hallowell's (1960) term "other-than-human" to describe the extraordinary persons known to Yupiit and Inupiat of Alaska. I discuss the ways in which place names and oral narratives can contribute to an understanding of the relational, intersubjective nature of Yupiit interactions with other-than-human persons and describe how such relations were anchored in enculturated landscapes. Finally, I address how archaeology is uniquely positioned to contribute to reconstructions of prehistoric ontologies that materialized relations between "real people" and the other-than-human persons with whom they shared the animated, dynamic landscapes of Southwest Alaska.
... The importance of the subsistence use of herring to residents of Nelson Island and vicinity has been reported in many sources (Lantis 1946;Barton. 1978;Hemming.Harrison, and Braund 1978;Lenz 1980;Skrade 1980;Fienup-Riordan 1983;Pete 1984;Pete and Kreher 1986;Pete et al. 1987) The research substantiated the importance of herring in the subsistence economy of Nelson ...
... Although an historical account indicates relatively limited harvest and use of herring for subsistence by residents of Nunivak Island (Lantis. 1946), historical information on subsistence-herring use for these communities is scant (Hemming et al. 1978). ...
... However, information on Mekoryuk subsistence herring harvests was the most incomplete of all communities, because fishing families that camp on the south side of the island have never been contacted. Although historical sources report less dependence on herring than the Nelson Island communities (Lantis 1946), no complete or current data exist to confirm the level of use for From the late 1960s through the mid-1970s, subsistence-herring fishing was generally unpredictable and often not productive for many fishermen. Herring were small; they passed through set gilI nets previously used. ...
... Nunivak Island, measuring roughly 60 miles from east to west and 35 miles north to south, lies approximately 20 miles from the mainland across Etolin Strait (Fig. 1) During the late 1930s, resources harvested for food and materials were four species of hair seal, walrus, beluga, sea lion, three species of Pacific salmon, halibut, Pacific cod, saffron cod, wolf fsh, Dolly Varden, herring and herring spawn-on-kelp, stickleback ("needlefsh"), smelt, several species of whitefish, "dogfish" (a species of shark), numerous types of shellfish and marine invertebrates, several species of flounder and sculpin, many species of waterfowl and sea birds and their eggs, ptarmigan, arctic and red fox, mink, weasel, reindeer (formerly caribou, until they were decimated and reindeer were introduced), and an occasional polar bear and dolphin (Lantis 1946). Many plant species and driftwood were also collected. ...
... In 1940, herring harvest and use was not large, compared to many other species taken throughout the island (Lantis 1946;Pete 1984). However, herring were more numerous on the east and south coasts of Nunivak Island (Lantis 1946:164), and specific settlements in the area not documented by Lantis may have incorporated greater use of herring for subsistence. ...
... However, herring were more numerous on the east and south coasts of Nunivak Island (Lantis 1946:164), and specific settlements in the area not documented by Lantis may have incorporated greater use of herring for subsistence. The author spent most of the study year in communities along the north coast (Lantis 1946). Other subsistence studies since Lantis' work have been done in Mekoryuk (Nowak 1975% 1975b(Nowak 1975% , 1977, but information on herring use was not described. ...
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The Dutch Harbor food and bait fishery harvests migrating herring stocks enroute from spawning grounds to offshore wintering grounds. The following information summarizes what is known about the origin of herring caught in the Dutch Harbor food and bait fishery: 1. Several stock separation studies have indicated that the origins of the herring caught in this fishery are predominantly from the Togiak stock, averaging 78% Togiak over all studies. 2. The composition of the non-Togiak component of the harvest cannot be identified as to origin. Possible stocks contributing to the non-Togiak component include Norton Sound, Cape Romanzof, Nunivak Island, Nelson Island, Cape Avinof, Goodnews Bay, Security Cove, Port Moller, and possibly other Alaska Peninsula or other stocks. An estimate of the composition of the non-Togiak component is best made by using the relative biomass of the non-Togiak stocks. 3. In 1989, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game conducted a detailed examination of a single sample taken from one trawl haul from the groundfish fishery and of a single sample taken from one purse seine in the Dutch Harbor food and bait fishery. This study indicated that the schools from which the two samples were selected represented a segregated age-size composition, and had a larger component of non-Togiak herring than would be expected if herring from all areas were randomly mixed. However, the overall result of this study showed that Togiak stocks dominated (78%) the Dutch Harbor harvest, agreeing with earlier stock separation studies conducted by the University of Washington. The finding of segregated age-size compositions does not change the overall stock composition estimates, but increases the variability of predicted of stock composition estimates. 4. Herring from Nelson Island likely overwinter with other eastern Bering Sea herring stocks in the area north and west of the Pribilof Islands. Both a clockwise, coastal route around Bristol Bay and a counterclockwise, distinct offshore route to the wintering grounds have been hypothesized for the Nelson Island stock. No convincing evidence exists to suggest that the Nelson Island herring stock follows one route or the other. If Nelson Island herring migrate via the counterclockwise, direct offshore route, they would not be taken in the Dutch Harbor food and bait fishery. If Nelson Island herring migrate via the clockwise, coastal route, the relative biomass of eastern Bering Sea herring stocks is the best available predictor of the composition of a late summer Dutch Harbor food and bait fishery. 5. Swimming speed analyses suggest that if Nelson Island herring migrate clockwise, they would not arrive at Dutch Harbor until at least early August, and perhaps as late as mid-September. Togiak herring are known to arrive at Dutch Harbor by mid-July. This suggests that a mid-July fishery at Dutch Harbor could avoid Nelson Island herring. Previous scale pattern analyses were not capable of detecting any meaningful trend in the proportion of non-Togiak stocks over time.
... J. D. Davis and Banack (2012) recorded that among the Kiluhikturmiut Inuinnait of Nunavut, Canada, Sphagnum was used for menstrual pads, diapers, and bandages. On Nunivak Island, Alaska, the Nunivaarmiut (Yup'ik) made diapers by placing dried Sphagnum in a scraped and softened seal skin (Lantis 1946). The Wet'suwest'en and Gitxsan peoples of British Columbia also made use of Sphagnum for diapers, avoiding red variants because they believed they would cause skin irritation. ...
... The sources for Canada and Greenland, on the other hand, are more complete on these points, and in these two areas shamans with a high economic 8 My evaluation is based on sources (and stories) from most Eskimo groups, e.g. Sandgreen 1967, I-II; Qúpersimân 1972; references to Western Greenland in Sonne, n.p.;Balikci I970;Spencer 1959;Lantis I946;Nelson I899;and Ray I966. 9 The Eastern Greenlanders' synonym for spirit helpers (Sandgreen I967 I-II). ...
Article
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The professional ecstatic is a religious specialist, who has become recognized as a person able to carry out an ecstatic ritual, corresponding with the local cultural expectations in force. The ecstatic ritual per se comprises a number of persons, i.e. it is a collective ritual. Part of the criteria that may be employed as a measure of the professional ecstatic's social status, is covered by the determining designation, social and cultic position. What ecstatic ritual duties does he have, and how large a part in the whole range of collective rituals within his society will his duties comprise? This question is examined through the social and ritual position among the Eskimos in their traditional, and thus relatively stable, societal cultures. The professional ecstatics among the Eskimos may be defined as shamans. However, the shamans were only part-time specialists among the Eskimos. They did have ritual tasks in the economic rituals of their society, and most of them had to pass a special ritual of initiation to obtain recognition as a shaman. The Eskimos have no juridical institutions, and as their informal leaders have no juridical authority, the shaman must exercise a considerable control of social morality. The shaman can here function simultaneously as informal leader, which is an impossible combination in societies with some degree of political organization. A shaman never became a leader due to his shaman powers in isolation. In societies where hunting demanded organized cooperation under a single man's leadership, he should also have organisatorial gifts. If a shaman, apart from his recognized shaman powers, possessed these qualities, he could attain a leader's status. His advice as a shaman, in common situations of crisis, combined with his authority as a leader, would endow him with particularly great authority.
... The people of Nunivak Island preferred to use kayaks for travel and rarely used dogs to pull sleds (Lantis, 1946). Populations surrounding Golovin Bay, however, utilized sled dogs for a great deal of their travel and work in the region (Ray, 1975;Ray, 1983;Renner, 1979). ...
Conference Paper
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Vertebral fractures and wedging were observed in skeletal collections of Eskimos from Golovin Bay and Nunivak Island, Alaska. Vertebral body fractures were divided into several categories based on Urcid and Bird (1995) including compression, single end-plate depression without wedging, single end-plate depression with wedging, congenital or idiopathic wedging, and biconcave bodies with or without wedging. Frequencies for fractures based on sex and age were calculated, and an attempt is made to characterize the pattern of this condition in each collection for age, sex, and location in the vertebral column. There was no significant difference in frequencies of compression fractures among adults at Golovin Bay and Nunivak Island. However, when separated by sex, females at Golovin exhibited a significantly higher frequency than females at Nunivak. No difference was noted between males in the two populations. Non-compression related fractures were rare in both samples, with only four affected individuals from Golovin Bay and none observed from Nunivak Island.
... À peu près à la même époque, on était au contraire frappé par l'équitable charge de travail qui régnait dans les îles Andaman, où « un homme mène généralement une vie aussi active que n'importe laquelle des femmes 21 ». Les Inuits inspirent un jugement semblable 22 ; selon certains, ce sont même les hommes qui, chez eux, travaillent le plus durement 23 . ...
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Were some more equal than others? II- Forms of exploitation under primitive communism Following on from our earlier contribution (Actuel Marx no57), the present article tries to determine the presence of phenomena of exploitation within the subset of societies without classes, societies devoid therefore of the subsequent socioeconomic inequalities, and which we often qualify by the term “primitive communism”. The inquiry turns out to have a problematic nature, insofar as the testimonies available are often contradictory, while the objective elements of inquiry remain rare. The conclusion arrived at here is that if exploitation could not be totally absent in these societies, its magnitude remained a very limited one, especially if we relate it to the, sometimes very explicit forms of domination which these societies experienced. This manifest paradox must doubtless be interpreted as being characteristic of such wealthless societies.
... Ethnographic studies of circumpolar people provide further indications that the gutter could have been used for fermenting fish. The most common ethnographic accounts of fermenting fish during the last two centuries, from Alaska, northern Siberia and Kamchatka, are the practice of burying fish in a hole dug through the top soil and into the underlying clay (Behrens, 1860;Lantis, 1946). The construction in Sunnansund is suggestive of this technique, where the gutter becomes visible against the naturally deposited clay after the cultural layer has been removed. ...
... Of Nelson Island, the Yup'ik chewed the rhizomes for mouth sores (Ager and Ager 1980). While on Nunivak Island, the Cup'it used the leaves of R. integrifolia (Griffin 2001) and its inflorescences in infusion with Rhododendron tomentosum Harmaja for medicine (Smith 1973), although such a tea was also simply enjoyed for its taste (Lantis 1946). Such a decoction of the inflorescences was employed for stomach or intestinal discomforts as well, and the plant was eaten raw for tuberculosis (Lantis 1959). ...
... 32, 33;Smith 1923Smith , p. 21, 1928Smith 1932Smith , p. 370, 1933Speck et al. 1942;Turner 1973;Turner et al. 1980Turner et al. , 1990Turner et al. , 1987 Fungal parasite of Carex aquatilis Wahl. and other sedges; small piece eaten or ground up, mixed in water and drunk by women to speed up a difficult labour; mixed with other herbs to aid afterbirth expulsion or treat menstrual irregularity (Cree) Leighton 1982Leighton , 1985Marles et al. 2000 Turner and Cuerrier 195 Published by Canadian Science Publishing Garibaldi 1999;Johnson 1987;Johnson et al. 1994;Lantis 1959;Pleninger and Volk 2005;Ryan et al. 1994;Sitkoff 2015;Turner et al. 1990;Wilson 1978 ? Fungus boiled and tea drunk to heal internal bleeding; used to ease heart pain, stomach and respiratory problems (Dogrib Dene) Ryan et al. 1994;Johnson et al. 1994 Polyporus tuberaster Jacq. ...
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This paper describes the importance of fungi to Canadian Indigenous Peoples. Based on collaborative research with Indigenous knowledge holders and a review of literature, approximately 30-40 fungi are documented as having cultural roles for Canadian Indigenous groups. Some peoples have not eaten mushrooms traditionally, whereas others have a history of harvesting, cooking, storing and trading mushrooms as part of their diets. Perennial tree fungi have application as tinder, fire starter, and for carving masks. They also have a range of medicinal uses, some being consumed as medicinal teas, and others applied externally, in some cases by moxibustion to relieve underlying pain. Puffballs also have a range of material and medicinal applications, especially for stopping haemorrhages. Fungi are widely known for spiritual or sacred associations, and play key roles in rituals, ceremonies, stories and beliefs, which are also reflected in the names of some species. The antiquity of peoples’ relationships with fungi is likely very deep, extending back to ancient Asian or European ancestors of Pleistocene times, whose descendants on those continents have used them in similar ways. Fungi continue to play important roles for Indigenous Peoples today, with some being harvested commercially, and many still used in traditional ways.
... Anthropological studies dominate the early literature on gender roles in Arctic communities (Lantis, 1946;Burch, 1975;Guemple, 1986). As Ackerman (1990) noted, 48 there is little consensus in this literature regarding how gender status should be evaluated and the degree to which gender was deemed significant. ...
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Contaminants represent a potentially significant hazard to the short and long-term health of Arctic natural and human environments and raise questions of environmental justice. This study investigated gendered dimensions of contaminant decision-making on the land, at home and in the community.
... En principe la société-bande est une société égalitaire (1979 : 33). Cependant, dans certains exemples que donne Service (1962Service ( , 1979) — Aborigènes australiens, Indiens de Californie et Eskimos — bien des sous-ethnies ont en fait des systèmes inégalitaires de répartition des richesses, des épouses, etc. (voir Testart, 1982 : 18, pour la Californie ; Lantis, 1946, pour les Eskimos de Nunivak ; Hart and Pilling, 1960 : 51-87, pour les Tiwis d'Australie, etc.). L'égalitarisme de la société-bande est donc très relatif. ...
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A proposito de bandas patrilocales : ilusiones teoricas y realidades etnograficas.El conflicto que oponě a los que sostienen la anterioridad de las bandas patrilocales y a los que atribuyen una mayor antiguedad a las bandas compuestas dura hace mas de veinticinco aňos. En realidad, ese conflicto puede ser resuelto si se toman en consideracion las bandas matrilocales que los unos y los otros pretenden ignorar. La introduction de ese hecho etnografico en el debate conduce, sin embargo, a una conclusion inesperada : las cuestiones de prioridad son absurdas ; la banda compuesta, la banda patrilocal y la banda matrilocal son probablemente todas ellas muy antiguas y no hay ninguna razon de suponer que una sea anterior a las otras.
... In north-eastern Siberia, among the Chukchee, Koryak, and Yukaghir Sphagnum is employed as lamp wick (Bogoras 1909: 185;Jochelson 1905: 566;Jochelson 1910: 410;Jernigan et al. 2017), as also other moss species (Dicranum sp., Rhacomitrium sp.) are used in parts of North America (Thieret 1956). Inuit of the Alaskan Bering Strait seaboard (Nunivak Island, Nelson Island) used to employ Sphagnum as wound dressing (Lantis 1959;Garibaldi 1999: 147), sanitary napkins and diapers (Clark 2010), and for stuffing body orifices of the deceased (Lantis 1946) 5 . Furthermore, native peoples of Alaska used Sphagnum spp. as medicinal fare if one incurs diarrhoea (Lantis 1959). ...
Preprint
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This preprint article aims to contribute to ethnobotanical knowledge of wetlands by succinctly describing many areas appropriate to the topic.
... In Alaska, Nunivak Islanders harvested seaweeds in early April as the winter ice began to crack (Lantis 1946). Nelson Islanders gathered seaweed (Fucus spp.) in late May when herring eggs were attached, eating both together raw or cooked, and collected kelp for food (Ager and Ager 1980, 33). ...
Chapter
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Archaeologically, the use of marine kelps and seaweeds is poorly understood, yet California's islands are surrounded by extensive and highly productive kelp forests with nearshore habitats containing more than 100 edible species. Historical accounts from around the Pacific Rim demonstrate considerable use of seaweeds and seagrasses by native people, but there has been little discussion of seaweeds as a potential food source on California's islands. This chapter summarizes the biology, diversity, ecology, and productivity of marine macroalgae and marine angiosperms in the California Bight, supporting the likely consumption of seaweeds in the past. The potential use of plentiful and nutritious seaweeds by California Island peoples has major implications for the perceived marginality of the islands.
... U ntil the first half of the twentieth century, grass was an important resource in the Yukon-Kuskowhim (Y-K) Delta, southwest Alaska, and was routinely utilized for many of the necessities of Yup'ik daily life (Griffin 2009). Basketry, along with other objects, are well represented among the collections gathered and recorded by nineteenth-and twentieth-century ethnographers (Nelson 1899;Lantis 1946;Oswalt 1957;VanStone 1967). This record has since been richly supplemented by the contributions of Elders and tradition bearers, in collaboration with anthropologists (e.g., Fienup-Riordan 2005, 147-49;Fienup-Riordan 2007, 217-43). ...
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More than two thousand archaeological grass artifacts dating from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century have been recovered from Nunalleq (GDN-248), an archaeological site located near the village of Quinhagak, southwest Alaska, in eight seasons of fieldwork at the site. This growing collection of basketry and cordage provides unprecedented insights on the use of grass artifacts in precontact Yup'ik households. Permafrost soils have preserved this assemblage astonishingly well, with objects made from grass blades and roots. Here we present the results of a preliminary study of these rarely encountered artifacts, based on the data recorded in the course of conservation work.
... U ntil the first half of the twentieth century, grass was an important resource in the Yukon-Kuskowhim (Y-K) Delta, southwest Alaska, and was routinely utilized for many of the necessities of Yup'ik daily life (Griffin 2009). Basketry, along with other objects, are well represented among the collections gathered and recorded by nineteenth-and twentieth-century ethnographers (Nelson 1899;Lantis 1946;Oswalt 1957;VanStone 1967). This record has since been richly supplemented by the contributions of Elders and tradition bearers, in collaboration with anthropologists (e.g., Fienup-Riordan 2005, 147-49;Fienup-Riordan 2007, 217-43). ...
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Grains of domesticated grasses (Poaceae) have long been a global food source and constitute the bulk of calories in the human diet. Recent efforts to establish more sustainable agricultural systems have focused in part on the development of herbaceous, perennial crops. Perennial plants have extensive root systems that stabilize soil and absorb water and nutrients at greater rates than their annual counterparts; consequently, perennial grasses are important potential candidates for grain domestication. While most contemporary grass domesticates consumed by humans are annual plants, there are over 7,000 perennial grass species that remain largely unexplored for domestication purposes. Documenting ethnobotanical uses of wild perennial grasses could aid in the evaluation of candidate species for de novo crop development. The objectives of this study are 1) to provide an ethnobotanical survey of the grass genus Elymus; and 2) to investigate floret size variation in species used by people. Elymus includes approximately 150 perennial species distributed in temperate and subtropical regions, of which at least 21 taxa have recorded nutritional, medicinal, and/or material uses. Elymus species used for food by humans warrant pre-breeding and future analyses to assess potential utility in perennial agricultural systems.
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"This is a fascinating contribution to the ethnography of the circumpolar North and the growing literature on human-animal relationships. The authors have assembled a rich and authoritative compendium of Inuit knowledge and tradition aimed at the animals that surround them . . . Perhaps unique to any other collection it takes local animist categories seriously such that Inuit concepts take a position front and centre before European concepts such as 'spirit' or 'soul'.". David G. Anderson, University of Aberdeen. "The strength of the text lies in its use of extensive quotes from the Inuit. This allows the Inuit voice to be heard clearly through the discourses of Western thought.". Christopher Trott, University of Manitoba. Inuit hunting traditions are rich in perceptions, practices and stories relating to animals and human beings. The authors examine key figures such as the raven, an animal that has a central place in Inuit culture as a creator and a trickster, and qupirruit, a category consisting of insects and other small life forms. After these non-social and inedible animals, they discuss the dog, the companion of the hunter, and the fellow hunter, the bear, considered to resemble a human being. A discussion of the renewal of whale hunting accompanies the chapters about animals considered 'prey par excellence': the caribou, the seals and the whale, symbol of the whole. By giving precedence to Inuit categories such as 'inua' (owner) and 'tarniq' (shade) over European concepts such as 'spirit 'and 'soul', the book compares and contrasts human beings and animals to provide a better understanding of human-animal relationships in a hunting society. © 2015 Frédéric Laugrand and Jarich Oosten. All rights reserved.
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