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Films >> Fast Runner, The (Atanarjuat) (2001) >>

Historical context by James "Alec" Murphy, Alexandra Neumann, and Olga Zhakova. See the extensive bibliography below the oral texts.

Variant Versions of the Atanarjuat Story from the Oral Tradition

Boas (1901) ----- Rasmussen (1921-24) ----- Ettuk (1964)

Atanarjuat was almost certainly an actual person around whom a legend grew. In fact, the helpful book put out by Isuma to accompany the film has a picture of the stone, or bench, on which the "real" Atanarjuat sat. The legend was passed down for centuries through the oral tradition, and both writer Paul Apak and director Zacharias Kunuk were told the story by parents and elders as children. Kunuk, for instance, has said that "I was born to a family of twelve in a sod house on the land [and] My mother would be telling these stories, like Atanarjuat, to put us, my brothers and sisters, side by side, to sleep. . . . we all grew up with this story and once it was taught to you, you never forgot that naked man running out on the ice." Once he started thinking about filming the story, Apak recorded versions from "maybe about eight to ten elders." We have found five written versions of the story: versions collected by outsiders Franz Boas (1901) and Knud Rasmussen (1929), and versions by Inuits Jimmy Ettuk (1964), Michel Kuppaq (1990), and Herve Paniaq (1990). We have collected here the harder-to-get versions by Boas, Rasmussen, and Ettuk; the other two (along with Rasmussen's) are available in Michael Evans's 2008 book (pp.76-88).

The versions differ from each other and the film, of course, most tellingly, as elaborated by Evans, in the ending. In the oral tradition, Atanarjuat returns and consummates his revenge in a decidedly violent manner, whereas in the film Atanarjuat halts the spiraling violence by declaring "the killing stops here" over the body of the defenseless Oki. Regarding this significant change, Zunuk has said: "Paul Apak talked and we all changed the ending. In the original story when they are fighting inside the ice igloo, he [Atanarjuat] smashed his [Oki's] head. Paul felt that that doesn't make any sense. That is going to go on and on and on. We also knew that they [the Inuits] used to just send people away instead of killing them and that was a better ending so we chose that. He [Apak] even asked the elders, is it all right to change the end? I remember one of the elders answering him, 'We are storytellers.'" Evans says "the producers brought the ending around to a positive note in an effort to emphasize the necessity of placing the group before the individual." An interesting example of and affirmation of the conscious constructedness of history that the Reel American History project is all about.

Boas (1901) ----- Rasmussen (1921-24) ----- Ettuk (1964)

1) Franz Boas, Eskimo of Baffin Land and Hudson Bay. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 15 (1901): 338-31.


At Amitoq there once lived a man and his wife. The man wished his children to be very strong. For this reason he made the mother, after each child was born, sit on the floor of the hut with her feet raised to each side of the doorway. In this position she had to eat, taking a large piece of half-cooked meat in both hands, and tearing off pieces with her teeth, while the fat ran down her arms. While she was doing this, her husband remained in the entrance-way and kept off the dogs with his whip. This made the children exceedingly strong.

One of the sons of this couple was named Armuckjuark. He came to be a very strong man. His wrists were as thick as the legs of a bear. He had one brother, who was called Artinarkjuark, and one half-brother.

He had two wives, -- Eccootlikechark and Arknuckkaark. The former was thin and lean, while the latter was very stout. Eccootlikechark was jealous of the other wife, and used to taunt her saying that she had large hips and did not look well; while Arknuckkaark would retort that the other one had legs as thin as pieces of bone which are used to dig marrow out of broken bones.

Armuckjuark was a successful whaler. He liked best to go off in his kayak when a strong southeasterly wind was blowing. He would go out alone, carrying a large float made of the skin of a ground-seal; and when he had killed a whale, he would leave it, and the whale would soon drift ashore. Between times he used to go home and tell the people to be on the lookout for a whale. He was not a good caribou-hunter, however, because he could not paddle on the lakes as quickly as others. His uncle, particularly used to pass by him in his kayak and kill the caribou before he could reach them.

One day, when the caribou were crossing a lake, he asked his wives to bring him his paddle. It was so large that it required both of them to carry it. He took his brother Artinarkjuark into his kayak and started. His uncle followed him, and soon passed him. This enraged Armuckjuark, who, with a powerful stroke of his paddle, made the water whirl so rapidly that his uncle was capsized and drowned. Artinarkjuark did not like the way in which his brother was acting, and as soon as they reached the shore he jumped out of the kayak and went to his tent.

Later in the winter the people went to fetch some caribou-meat from their caches. When they returned, Eccootlikechark distributed it. Soon, she returned and told her husband that she had met his half-brother in one of the entrance-passages, and that in trying to pass her he had tried to overcome her. In fact, they merely happened to meet, and in trying to pass each other had always moved to the same side. Armuckjuark believed his wife. The next morning he arose early, went to his half-brother’s house, and said that he was going to kill him. His half-brother said, “Wait until I am dressed.” He got up, and as soon as he was dressed, Armuckjuark stabbed him with his knife. Then their mother began to cry, She was sad over the loss of her child, and told Armuckjuark that his wife had deceived him, and had lied in regard to his half-brother, and ended by saying that she hoped Armuckjuark would not die if he should be stabbed by the other people.

Armuckjuark returned to his house. Early the next morning he asked Eccootlikechark which way the wind was blowing. She retorted that he might find out by going out himself. Then he took hold of her hand with both of his, pulled her fingers apart, and split her hand and arm up to the elbow. She gave a wild shriek and died. He knew now that she had lied, and he felt sorry for having slain his half-brother.

The next summer, while Armuckjuark and Artinarkjuark’s wives were out gathering moss, they saw a number of people who beckoned to them to come. The people told them that they were intending to kill Armuckjuark and Artinarkjuark that night, and asked the women to put out their (?) stockings from under the tent. The women then returned. They did not tell their husbands of the designs of the people, and when they lay down they put their (?) stockings out from under the tent. At dark, the people attacked them. By far greater number assailed Armuckjuark’s tent, while only about half that number attacked Artinarkjuark’s tent. They jumped on top of the tent-skins, so that the tent fell down, they tried to stab the inmates. As soon as Armuckjuark felt the tent falling down, he arose on his hands and feet, and crawled in this way quite a distance, carrying tent and men along; and finally he was dispatched. The other men broke down Artinarkjuark’s tent; but one of their number pitied him, and, while the others were trying to kill him, he shouted, “Armuckjuark is coming!” Then all the men jumped up from the tent, and Artinarkjuark took this opportunity to escape; but blood was flowing from his wounds. Finally he came to a stream, and by wading in it he covered his tracks. Then he traveled on until he came to the place where his parents lived, near a point where they were catching ducks with whalebone snares. They dressed his wounds and gave him new clothing. On the following day the people were pursuing him came to the tent. Then his mother made him lie down on the ground, and covered him up. The people asked the old couple if they had seen anyone coming that way. They replied that no one had come, and invited them to rest, and gave them to eat. Soon the people left, believing Artinarkjuark to be dead.

Soon his wounds healed, and he staid with his parents, hunting. During this time he made a beautiful set of clothing for himself, and one for a woman. In winter he went back to his own village, and when the people saw him coming they recognized him at once. The man who had stabbed him in the side, and who thought that he had died of his wound, had carried a charm as a protection against Artinarkjuark’s spirit. When he saw Artinarkjuark alive, he dropped the charm when no one was looking. Artinakjuark now called his wives, one of whom came quickly. He asked her to take off her old duck-skin suit, which he tore to pieces, and gave her the beautiful clothes which he had made. He would not have the other woman because she did not come at once when he had called.

He then challenged two men who had stabbed him, and slew both of them. Then he left the village with his wife, and lived happily ever after.

2) Knud Rasmussen, Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos. Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition 1921-24, Vol. VII, No.1: 298-99.

Aumarzuat and Atanârzuat

Two brothers Aumarzuat and Atanârzuat, lay sleeping one night in their tent, when they were attacked by enemies. Atanârzuat was killed, but Aumarzuat managed to escape and made his way home to his parents’ house. His parents hid him under some seaweed, fearing lest his enemies should come in search of him. And this they did, but his mother then set about cooking some meat, so as to make it appear that she had no knowledge of their errand. They sought about everywhere, especially where the snow had melted away. They threw harpoons in all directions, but were forced to return home without having accomplished their purpose. Aumarzuat then lay for some time to let his wounds heal, and when he was well again, he kept to places far from the dwellings of men, and hunted game for his parents.

Winter came, and his mother made him a fine tunic, all embroidered with handsome white patterns. His tunics were always made like that, and when Aumarzuat had got his new tunic, he felt a great desire to set out and take vengeance for the killing of his brother. His parents sought to dissuade him but in vain, Aumarzuat held to his purpose, and since there was no help for it, they at last agreed to let him go off and seek vengeance for his brother.

He then went alone towards the village of his enemies, and when he came in sight, and people saw him, they said: “It can be no other than Aumarzuat, for he is the only one who wears tunics like that.” And true enough, it was Aumarzuat, they could all see for themselves when he came nearer, and he came to the village and cried: “I should like to fight while I am awake. Last time I was attacked while I slept. Let all my enemies come out if they dare.”

They all came out, and the fight began, between that one man and his enemies. But when Aumarzuat had killed two men, and the others now saw the mighty strength of him, they ceased to offer any resistance; they were now afraid of him. The fight came to an end, since none would now strike in self-defense, and Aumarzuat took the wives of the men he had killed, and returned to his parents’ house. Two men went with him on the road; they meant no harm to him, but all the same, when they were about to take leave of him, Aumarzuat killed one of them. He had, as it were, got into the way of killing; and thus he avenged the slaying of his brother.

3) Jimmy Ettuk, in Jean Blodgett, North Baffin Drawings. Collected by Terry Ryan on North Baffin Island in 1964. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1986: 52, 132.

North Baffin Drawings

A long time ago there was this story about Atanaaqjuat. While his older brother was sleeping he [the brother] was killed. And Atanaaqjuat was approached because his wife put identifying marks on his leggings. Then, a little old woman yelled at them like this: “apapasi.” When they got up Atanaaqjuat bolted from between them and started running on the lake. His footprints were red from cuts because the ice was so sharp. Then he spotted an old man on an island who was hunting ducks and had him bury him in the sand. The pursuers who hated Atanaaqjuat arrived and asking the campers if they had seen a man. The old man answered that they were looking for their lost grandchild and were not looking for anyone else. They were crying because they were scared.

During the summer, Atanaaqjuat hunted caribou. In the winter, he built an igloo and invited his enemies. His wife approached in her tattered clothes and he said, “I wanted you to wear tattered clothes.” Then he ripped up her clothes even more. All she had left on was a top. Then his other wife came in crying and he said, “Let me see your hands.” She gave him her hand and he ripped her hand right down the middle. He asked her why she had betrayed him and she replied that she had come to hate him. Then he called his pursuers who wanted to kill him to the slippery lake. He said, “Last spring you made me run on the ice without anything on my feet. I will never forget that.” So then, he clubbed all his enemies to death with some caribou antlers while they were trying to run away.

Print Resources

Auger, Emily E. The Way of Inuit Art: Aesthetics and History in and beyond the Arctic. Jefferson: McFarland, 2005.
Auger's book focuses on an archival approach to prehistoric and historic Inuit artistic conventions. Part I specifically addresses prehistoric Alaskan and Canadian artistry, and this is followed by more novel artistic techniques within Inuit communities both in and outside of the Arctic in Part II. The first section serves as a reminder of the reason for the Inuit creation of art -- to remember and pay tribute to cultural traditions. Such traditions focus on survival as well as religion. Auger dedicates an entire chapter within this first section to discuss the significance of Shamanistic traditions and how the religion is reflected within the art. The second part serves as an historical approach towards Inuit art and how it has developed throughout time. Auger closes her book with two chapters that focus on a modern Inuit artist and her approach to conveying her cultural traditions through artistic means today. The images that are conveyed within this text range from prehistoric shamanistic masks and tools made of indigenous materials (walrus tusk, wood, and caribou fur are some examples) to more modern interpretations of Inuit traditional art. More contemporary pieces are now mostly being produced for their aesthetic quality instead of their function.
Bennett, John, and Susan Rowley. Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut. Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP, 2004.
This book is a history of Nunavut from an inside Inuit perspective. It talks about how the life of Inuit people was like before they moved to modern settlements. This book is even more important as there are fewer and fewer Inuit elders who may tell about life in those days. It is important not only for Inuit people, but also for the rest of the world, as it is a chance to know how people successfully and independently lived in the severe conditions of the Arctic. Although there are no time lines in the book, the majority of the descriptions depict life of Inuit from the end of the nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. There are two parts in the book: the first one ("Inuit Identity") is devoted to the elements of Inuit everyday life that were common to all living in Nunavut; the second part ("Regional Identity") talks about differences between four Inuit groups. This book is written for a wide audience: Nunavut people, scholars, and readers all over the world. Telling about Nunavut rich culture and history, this book has a lot to offer for everyone. As the authors say, they "wanted to share with readers Inuit wisdom and knowledge."
Billson, Janet Mancini. Inuit Women: Their Powerful Spirit in a Century of Change. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.
While the main focus of the author is on the challenges that Inuit women experience in the beginning of the 21st century, a thorough attention is given to the history, mainly to compare lives of Inuit women in past and present, as well as to trace back the history in terms of women. The book is based on stories of Inuit females from 14 to 100 years old who were just talking about their lives – an approach that helps the author to move away from the outside view. The importance and novelty of this book lies in the fact that the history of Inuit people and observations of their lives have been mostly made by men. It is not only a book about Inuit women, it is also a book about women in general. As Inuit woman Eena says: "It's the same all over the world, that women have problems with their culture. I don't think it's just the Inuit or the white people. It's the whole world."
Blodgett, Jean. North Baffin Drawings. Collected by Terry Ryan on North Baffin Island in 1964. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1986.
In 1964, Terry Ryan traveled to several areas including Clyde River, Pond Inlet, and Arctic Bay to distribute paper and pencils to multiple natives in these Inuit towns. (Ryan was even able to collect an assortment of drawings from the town of Igloolik!) He then bought the drawings that were made in an attempt to form a collection. This series is historically significant because it serves as a contemporary example of Inuit life. The majority of these artists (all but 23) have been identified because the images had been originally signed. The drawings were chosen for specific criteria -- "quality, although other factors, such as innovativeness, unusual characteristics or outright charm." The exhibit of seventy-five selected images serves as an amalgamation of everyday life and tradition. Most importantly, this book contains the 3rd recorded version of the Atanarjuat legend, by Jimmy Ettuk (52, 132). This image appears to be divided into three different sections possibly to illuminate different elements of the story and perhaps it would be helpful to treat them as a cycle. The image to the left appears to be a camp of some sort (perhaps Atanarjuat's tribe?) If you look closely, you can see footprints trailing from this camp scene to the figure on the right. These footprints are there to represent the trail of bloody footprints Atanarjuat left behind after running from Oki and his men barefoot. These footprints lead him directly to the old man who eventually saves him from his pursuers. This man is pictured as hunting ducks. The final scene pictures the igloo that Atanarjuat built. There are four men inside, one standing, possibly Atanarjuat himself, as well as three fallen men. This may be a reproduction of the moment where Atanarjuat lures Oki and his men into an igloo to kill them. Although this drawing is slightly ambiguous, we can interpret enough to understand the significance of this oral legend.
Boas, Franz. "The Eskimo of Baffin Land and the Hudson Bay from notes collected by Capt. George Comer, James S. Mutch, and Rev. E. J. Peck." Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 15 (1901): 338-31.
Contains the earliest recording of the Atanarjuat story. See also Blodgett, Rasmussen, and Evans for others.
Dahl, Jens, et al., eds. Nunavut:Inuit Regain Control of Their Lands and Their Lives. Copenhagen: IWGIA Document No. 102, 2000.
This book was written shortly after the official separation of Nunavut as a federal territory of Canada in 1999. Separation of territories, being a very painful process for Canada, is actively opposed by many Canadians. The same happened with indigenous people – in their effort to create Nunavut, Inuit people were opposed by numerous political groups willing to prevent the separation because it represented a threat to the unity of Canada. The activity of these political groups led to misinformation and disinformation about Inuit people. This book is an effort to tell the true story of Inuit people, their struggle for their land and creation of a new federal territory with its own government – Nunavut. The authors have a goal: "To provide a clear and accurate account of a remarkable political story" which means a lot for the whole world as it proves that it is possible for a small and insignificant population to win back their ancient territory in the modern European constitutional and legal systems. It is important that the authors of the book have all been engaged in Nunavut and Inuit politics for a very long time.
Evans, Michael Robert. The Fast Runner: Filming the Legend of Atanarjuat. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2010.
Publisher's statement: "The Fast Runner: Filming the Legend of Atanarjuat takes readers behind the cameras, introducing them to the culture, history, traditions, and people that made this movie extraordinary. Michael Robert Evans explores how the epic film, perhaps the most significant text ever produced by indigenous filmmakers, artfully married the latest in video technology with the traditional storytelling of the Inuit. Tracing Atanarjuat from inception through production to reception, Evans shows how the filmmakers managed this complex intercultural "marriage"; how Igloolik Isuma Productions, the world's premier indigenous film company, works; and how Inuit history and culture affected the film's production, release, and worldwide response. His book is a unique, enlightening introduction and analysis of a film that serves as a model of autonomous media production for the more than 350 million indigenous people around the world."
Freeman, Milton M. R. Inuit, Whaling, and Sustainability. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 1998.
This book talks about one of the most interesting aspects of Inuit life -- whaling -- simultaneously telling how Inuit people hunt, what kind of food they eat, and what culture they live in. Besides these topics the book covers such important issues for Inuits as the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its actions that cause fear and anger among the indigenous people. To cover this issue the international laws, conventions, and different official strategies are discussed in the book. Thus the title of the book defines the knowledge readers will get from the book: they will learn about Inuit culture, understand the process of whaling, and find out about views of Inuit people, as well as international structures (such as IWC) on sustainability. The book is supplied with numerous interesting photographs depicting whaling and Inuit everyday life.
Hessel, Ingo. Inuit Art: An Introduction. New York: Harry Abrams, 1998.
This book serves as a comprehensive guide to the world of Inuit art within the Canadian Arctic. It is not limited to only one medium but instead encompasses sculpture, drawing, painting, and textiles. Hessel explains the significance of Inuit art as being "‘about' traditional culture and values, it is also very much an expression of the experiences, values and rapid change in the second half of the twentieth century. Inuit art is often 'autobiographical'." Therefore this book is organized almost chronologically beginning with artistic conventions of the Prehistoric period and followed by more contemporary practices with the arts. The selected images show the chosen mediums for the Inuit -- natural materials found in their surrounding area (This includes stone, wood, ivory from animal bones, and feathers) as well as more modern mediums such as watercolor or printmaking. Most images or sculptures focus specifically on different animals that the Inuit were dependent upon such as caribou, bears, birds, fish, walrus, and muscox, a type of animal related to the goat or sheep. Other images and sculptures depict shamans, mothers and their young, hunt scenes, and families in general.
Issenman, Betty. Sinews of Survival: The Living Legacy of Inuit Clothing. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997.
This book is about one of the most fascinating, both from practical and aesthetic points of view, aspects of Inuit culture – clothing. Once viewing these unique and beautiful apparels, a person will never forget it. The author talks about Inuit skin clothing as it fulfills three tasks: it is protection, identity, and a cultural bearer. As for the protective role, the sophisticated technology that has been passed from generation to generation is described in the book. The garments help Inuit people to preserve their identity, to implement spiritual, social, and artistic conventions. This book unites all the information found in different articles, reports, journals, books, and notes made over the centuries in different countries. The author has thoroughly studied numerous collections of Inuit clothing and tools in museums all over the world. One of the most remarkable things about this book is a wide collection of photographs taken from archives all round the world. This book will be extremely helpful not only for those who want to learn about Inuit clothing, but also for those curious about Inuit culture -- the way they've been surviving in the Arctic for centuries -- as well as for those who are interested in clothing of different peoples and in clothing in general.
Lyons, Scott Richard. "Rhetorical Sovereignty: What Do American Indians Want from Writing?" College Composition and Communication 51.3 (2000): 447-68.
As Native American children began to be incorporated into "American" schools, the young children struggled with the concept of writing. Native Americans wrote in pictures showing heroic battle scenes, migration of animals, or chores in their village. An attempt to eradicate this form of communication specific to each tribe was just one more step in trying to erase centuries of Native American history. This article questions the idea of the written word being taught in schools to Native American populations. Lyons uses the term rhetorical sovereignty as the basis for his essay: "Rhetorical sovereignty is the inherent right of the peoples to determine their own communicative needs and desires in this pursuit, to decide for themselves the goals, modes, styles, and languages of public discourse." The essay argues for the ability of the Native Americans to choose how they want to communicate -- whether through drawing or writing. Lyons' formulation of rhetorical sovereignty has basic application to our film.
MacDonald, John. The Arctic Sky: Inuit Astronomy, Star Lore, and Legend. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1998.
A fascinating book based on interviews with Inuit elders of the Canadian Eastern Arctic community of Igloolik. The author makes an innovative attempt to describe the Inuit astronomy and match Inuit star and constellation names with the European ones. Topics covered in the book are: naming and detection of stars and constellations, use of stars in navigation and weather prediction, legends, songs, narratives, and beliefs related to the diverse astronomical phenomena. From the interviews with Inuit elders, it becomes clear to the author that their knowledge of celestial and atmospheric phenomena has been reducing from one generation to another. Even now elders seem to know significantly more about these aspects than younger Inuits; moreover, their knowledge is not uniform and slightly differs from one elder to another. In this sense it is important that the author collected the knowledge of elder Inuits who might be among the last ones to have more or less detailed knowledge of this subject. This book will be especially interesting for those who want to learn about astronomy from a unique Inuit's point of view as opposed to the conventional Western astronomy.
Oswalt, Wendell H. Eskimos and Explorers. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1999.
Written for both the general public and anthropologists, this book gives a reader the history of Eskimos from the very early times when they were undiscovered to the times when the last Eskimo country was found by Europeans. What distinguishes this book from others of that kind is that the author pays a thorough attention to the technology used by Eskimo people throughout their history -- an aspect which is quite often underestimated by other authors, but which at the same time played an extremely important role in Eskimo life and allowed them to live under very severe conditions. Talking about early historic Eskimo culture, the author describes Eskimos and their lives as they were seen by the first men to come across them. The book is provided with the historical maps and numerous pictures depicting scene from Eskimo everyday life.
Purich, Donald. The Inuit and Their Land: The Story of Nunavut. Toronto: Lorimer, 1992.
Written before the official separation of Nunavut as a federal territory of Canada in 1999, the book is devoted to the significance of this separation as an act that gives importance to Aboriginal people as a part of Canadian society. The main goal of the author is to "sensitize" Canadians to the issues related to the existence of Inuit people to the North of their country. The author is not trying to tell Canadians about Inuit's history, culture, and life in the North (which, as he thinks, is the task that Inuit people should fulfill themselves), but to bring Inuit people into a "wider national context." Purich foresees the division of territories and separation of Nunavut and talks about the controversial nature of this issue (as there are a lot of Canadians who think that such a division would be a mistake), obstacles the Inuit people are facing, and crucial importance of this division as it will signify "an evolution of the Canadian federation to accommodate an Aboriginal society as part of the Canadian mainstream." Thus this book represents a unique work which, while talking about Nunavut history and modern situation with aboriginal rights, places Inuit people and their claim for their territory in the broader context of Canadian Federation.
Rasmussen, Knud. "Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos." Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition 1921-1924. Copenhagen, 1929: 298-99.
Contains the second recorded version of the Atanarjuat story. For other versions, see Boas, Blodgett, Rasmussen, and Evans.
Robinson, Gillian. Isuma Inuit Studies Reader: An Inuit Anthology . Montreal: Isuma Pub., 2004
"An anthology of selections from a wide variety of sources including explorer journals, missionary accounts, Inuit oral histories, commentaries, poems, songs and stories with illustrations and photographs."
Swinton, George. Sculpture of the Eskimo. Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, 1972.
This series of Inuit sculptures is Stinton's attempt at creating a memorable collection. He states from his introduction that there is a distinction between the different Inuit communities who were responsible for these sculptures: "we lump all Eskimos and their art into one group and fail to make the necessary distinction between the talented and the indifferent." This statement seems to serve as Stinton's message throughout the book -- there are differences in Inuit art and reasons for these distinctions. Stinton addresses the environment, cultural patterns, and the developments throughout history to clarify these variations through time. He focuses on showing sculptures that reflect family life, animals that the Inuit were dependent upon, hunting images and shamanistic pieces.

See Also

Boas, Franz. Franz Boas among the Inuit of Baffin Island, 1883-1884: Journals and Letters. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1998.

Damas, David, ed. "Arctic." Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 5. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1984.

McDermott, James. The Third Voyage of Martin Frobisher to Baffin Island, 1578. London: Hakluyt Society, 2001.

Rasmussen, Knud. Across Arctic America: Narrative of the Fifth Thule Expedition. New York: Putnam, 1927.

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

Saladin D'Anglure, Bernard, and Francois Therien. Shamanism, Christianization, Possession. Special issue of Inuit Studies 21.1-2 (1997).

Saladin D'Anglure, Bernard. "The Mythology of the Inuit of the Central Arctic." American, African, and Old European Mythologies. Ed. Y. Bonnefroy. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994.

Video/Audio Resources

Isuma Inuit Classic Collection: 1987-2007. Igloolik Isuma Productions.
"32 DVDs representing 20 years of Inuit films by Zacharias Kunuk and Igloolik Isuma Productions. . . . comprises the most complete film library of any indigenous culture in history, telling its own stories by its own members in its own language and point of view."
Nanook of the North. Dir. Robert Flaherty. 1922
The classic film (tagged "a story of life and love in the actual Arctic" on the title image), widely referred to as the beginning of the documentary genre but now often criticized for its stereotyping, that exhibits the harsh life of one Eskimo family. For years and years, this film was virtually totally responsible for our culture's image of the Inuit. It is specifically referenced negatively by the Inuit filmmakers. 8-part version on YouTube. Note especially the clown car episode in part 1, the phonograph and castor oil episodes at the trading post in part 2, the seal-catching episode at the end on part 6/beginning of part 7, and the naked Nyla in part 8.
Nunavut: Our Land. Zacharias Kunuk and Paulossie Qulitalik. Montreal, Quebec: Igloolik Isuma Productions, 2002, 1994.
"13 episodes of ‘recreated drama' bring to life the authentic reality of Inuit living on the land in the 1940s in and around Igloolik, dramatizing the memories of today's Elders before government and settlement life began."

Online Resources

Free Spirit Gallery
This website shows pieces that are modern interpretation of pre-historic Inuit art. However, this website also provides information that they have collected form several resources that focus on specifics such as materials used in sculpture, maps, different styles, prices of art, investing in art, the significance of certain colors and shapes and the design of animal body parts. The website also contains different videos that show other forms of art such as "Inuit throat singers." All of this supplementary information can be located under the link "Info Articles/Videos."
The Government of Nunavut
This website of the Government of Nunavut provides the viewer with a wide range of information: the legislation, the legislatives (including description of departments, information on ministers and crown agencies), finance, business, employment, as well as detailed information on Nunavut history, symbols, maps, fact sheets, and even some video material (in the section named "Facts about Nunavut"). In the section "Photo Album" amazingly beautiful pictures of the Nunavut nature can be found. It is interesting that one of the sections on the site's home page is devoted to the "Development of Suicide Prevention Strategy," meaning that it is a significant problem in Nunavut nowadays. The section "10th Anniversary Nunavut!" includes links to .pdf files with information and pictures on Nunavut culture, housing, health, and language. All in all, while the site may lack some organizational clarity, it is possible to find all the necessary information about Nunavut today.
Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
This gallery exhibits different aspects of modern Inuit art ranging between sculpture, graphics and jewelry. They pride themselves in carrying traditional pieces that reflect Canadian aboriginal art since 1979. These pieces serve as great interpretations of pre-historic art that has been covered in the suggested reading.
Isuma Productions: Independent Inuit Film
The Inuit film company responsible for Atanarjuat. From the Isuma web site: "Our name Isuma means 'to think' -- as in Thinking Productions. Young and old work together to keep our ancestors' knowledge alive."
Nunavut -- Canada's Arctic
This is the official website of Nunavut Tourism, whose main goal is to encourage tourism in the territory of Nunavut. This picturesque and vivid website is divided into three sections: Experience, Explore, and Plan. Experience has subsections of Adventure, Arts & Culture, Fishing, and Hunting in which one can find information on Nunavut society, its traditions, Inuit arts and crafts, food, and numerous things to do in Nunavut. The Explore section is devoted to three main regions (Kitikmeot, Kivalliq, Baffin) of Nunavut and their maps. Plan refers to those who are going to visit Nunavut, giving them information about guides, accommodations, services, activities, and so on. Even if you are not planning to visit Nunavut, this website is an ideal place to feel what it is like going to this amazing territory.
Virtual Museum of Canada
The website serves as a vital source for anyone who is interested in utilizing an interactive space to expand their knowledge of all Canadian art. There are about 300 virtual exhibits that have been created by Canadian museums and galleries. Specifically interested in Inuit cultures? Just use the search option towards the top of the main site to specify that you are looking for virtual galleries that focus on the Inuit. Perhaps the most detailed site is the first -- The Inuvialuit of the Western Arctic. This site provides information on the following: Depictions of the land, the people, history and modern survival stories. Each page consists of information on the topic as well as images that enlarge for a closer examination. This specific online exhibition is comprised of an abundant but slightly broad amount of information. The Virtual Museum seems to consist of a copious amount of information but is slightly limiting in regards to Inuit Virtual Exhibits. (It does to its credit have a Virtual Exhibit on the "Inuit Dolls form Prehistory to Today" if you are interested). The site's Image Gallery can also prove useful; the site provides almost 3000 photographs with titles and dates. However, the images are small and the website prohibits the ability to enlarge them directly on the site.