Nunatsiaq News
TAISSUMANI October 17, 2014 - 12:09 pm

Taissumani, Oct. 17

Mowat, Porsild, and “The Case of the Disappearing Eskimos”

KENN HARPER

In 1947, an aspiring young Canadian writer travelled into the Barren Lands of the Kivalliq Region. His name was Farley Mowat.

The book that resulted from this and a subsequent trip into the interior was published to great acclaim in 1952, under the title People of the Deer. The people he wrote...

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TAISSUMANI October 10, 2014 - 10:51 am

Taissumani, Oct. 11

Father Gasté’s Remarkable Journey

KENN HARPER

When Samuel Hearne became the first white man to pass through the area of Nueltin Lake in the late 1700s, there was as yet no Inuit presence there.

It was not until the early 1800s that Inuit moved into the region. These Inuit, who came to be known as the Ahiarmiut, occupied an area tucked into...

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TAISSUMANI October 03, 2014 - 11:09 am

Taissumani, Oct. 3

The Settling of the Kivalliq Region

KENN HARPER

It is not generally realized that until the mid-1700s, most of the Kivalliq coast south of Rankin Inlet was not inhabited by Inuit, but rather by Chipewyan Indians.

The late anthropologist Ernest (Tiger) Burch advanced a theory, generally accepted, and summed up by the scholar Renee Fossett, about...

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TAISSUMANI September 26, 2014 - 10:17 am

Taissumani, Sept. 26

How “–miut” Was Used a Century Ago

KENN HARPER

Last week I wrote about how the suffix “-miut” is used in Inuktitut today, to describe “the people of” a certain place (for example, Iglulingmiut) but often used too, in a general geographical sense (like Nunavummiut.)

But before Inuit largely abandoned camp life and moved into the settlements...

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TAISSUMANI September 19, 2014 - 11:35 am

Taissumani, Sept. 19

What Does “–miut” Mean?

KENN HARPER

Everyone in the Arctic, whether they speak Inuktitut or not, has heard this suffix attached to a word, either in Inuktitut or English, and usually a place name. And most know that it means “the people of (that place.)

And so you hear that certain people are Iglulingmiut (the people of Igloolik.)...

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TAISSUMANI September 12, 2014 - 3:37 pm

Taissumani, Sept. 12

Grave Robbing

KENN HARPER

The explorer was travelling in northern Greenland with one south Greenlander and two young Inughuit — Polar Eskimos — both about 20.

It was summer and travelling conditions were dreadful. The explorer had taken some burial goods from an Inuit grave a few days earlier – small things – a pin, a...

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TAISSUMANI September 05, 2014 - 5:14 pm

Taissumani, Sept. 5

What Makes a Good Teacher?

KENN HARPER

What makes a good teacher? This age-old question has never been satisfactorily answered, least of all by the meritless arguments advanced by those who tout “merit pay” for teachers as the panacea for everything that ails the education system.

When I was in Grade 8 (then the graduating year from...

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TAISSUMANI August 29, 2014 - 8:40 pm

Taissumani, Aug. 29

The Strategic Importance of Ellesmere Island

KENN HARPER

It must be near summer’s end because Stephen (not my brother) Harper is doing his annual tour of the Canadian Arctic, with the attendant sovereignty overtones that that entails. So let’s take a look at how some of that sovereignty came about.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Canada was busy establishing...

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TAISSUMANI August 22, 2014 - 12:48 pm

Taissumani, Aug. 22

Inughuit Hunters and the Thule Act

KENN HARPER

The Thule Act was a unique piece of legislation passed by a group of Inughuit hunters in the Thule District of northern Greenland, without recourse to, or permission from, any national government.

Knud Rasmussen had established his Thule Station, a trading post, in the district in 1909. The Danish...

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TAISSUMANI August 15, 2014 - 9:53 am

Taissumani, Aug. 15

The Expulsion of the Inughuit

KENN HARPER

The Inughuit live in northwestern Greenland north of Melville Bay. Their traditional territory is a strip of land hemmed in between the frigid waters of the Arctic and the inland ice that covers most of Greenland, a coastal strip 600 km long. They are the northernmost human society in the...

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TAISSUMANI August 08, 2014 - 10:12 am

Taissumani, Aug. 8

The Inughuit Threat to Canadian High Arctic Sovereignty

KENN HARPER

With concerns about Canadian sovereignty so much in the news again, it is interesting to look at an early sovereignty scare — one involving Inuit — that turned out to be a misunderstanding.

In 1910 Knud Rasmussen and Peter Freuchen established their trading post, Thule Station, in northwestern...

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TAISSUMANI August 01, 2014 - 7:35 am

Taissumani, Aug. 1

Blood On The Snow – Robert Janes’s Last Journey (Part 4 of 4)

KENN HARPER

On March 11, 1920 Nuqallaq and a party of Inuit hunters and their families arrived at a seal hunting camp on the ice off Cape Crauford, northern Baffin Island.

They were surprised to discover that Robert Janes, a Newfoundland trader, was there, having diverted from his intended course to Igloolik...

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TAISSUMANI July 25, 2014 - 6:50 pm

Taissumani, July 25

Arrival At Cape Crauford — Robert Janes’s Last Journey (Part 3 of 4)

KENN HARPER

On March 4, Robert Janes passed Adams Island in Lancaster Sound, 10 days into his desperate bid to leave north Baffin Island by dog sled. He would travel by sled as far as Churchill, and from there overland to Winnipeg, then home to St. John’s.

Although Janes saw no sign of Inuit at Adams Island,...

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TAISSUMANI July 18, 2014 - 10:58 am

Taissumani, July 18

Away Goes February – Robert Janes’s Last Journey (Part 2 of 4)

KENN HARPER

Robert Janes had embarked on a difficult journey south from his trading post near Pond Inlet.

Travelling by dog sled, with one Inuit guide, and heavily-laden sleds, he would travel through Admiralty Inlet, Igloolik, and the Keewatin coast to Churchill, and from there to Winnipeg, and on to St....

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TAISSUMANI July 11, 2014 - 3:54 pm

Taissumani, July 11

Escape From The Arctic — Robert Janes’s Last Journey (Part 1 of 4)

KENN HARPER

Robert Janes was born on Gooseberry Islands near Glovertown, Nfld., and first traveled to the Arctic as second mate on the Canadian government ship, Arctic, under the famous Captain Bernier in 1910. From the English term “second mate” came his Inuktitut name “sakirmiaq.”

In 1912 he returned north...

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TAISSUMANI July 04, 2014 - 1:05 pm

Taissumani, July 4

Mosquitoes

KENN HARPER

It’s mosquito season in Nunavut, and here are a few random observations by Inuit on this annual pest.

Ivaluartjuk was an Iglulik story-teller whom Knud Rasmussen met in Foxe Basin in 1921.

The explorer recorded many of the old man’s stories and songs, among which was this:

“Cold and mosquitoes,...

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TAISSUMANI June 27, 2014 - 11:08 am

Taissumani, June 27

The Legacy of Maggie Clay

KENN HARPER

This is the conclusion of the story of Maggie Clay, begun last week.

In the two days between the amputation of her leg and her death, Maggie Clay talked about the accident that had befallen her. Harry Stallworthy’s memory of her conversations was this:

“She talked a lot about the dogs and the...

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TAISSUMANI June 20, 2014 - 7:53 am

Taissumani, June 20

The Tragic Fate of Maggie Clay

KENN HARPER

Maggie Clay loved the north.

She arrived in Chesterfield Inlet with her husband, RCMP Staff Sergeant Sidney Clay, in the summer of 1924. They had already lived in the north for many years, at Fort Norman, Fort McPherson, and Herschel Island, before coming to Hudson Bay to take charge of the post...

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TAISSUMANI June 13, 2014 - 7:46 am

Taissumani, June 13

An Esquimaux Vocabulary for the Franklin Search

KENN HARPER

On May 30, 1850 the aging Arctic explorer, Sir John Ross, wrote a note to Captain Charles Codrington Forsyth of the Royal Navy, who was about to depart for the Arctic on the Prince Albert on an expedition sponsored by Lady Franklin, in search of her missing husband, Sir John Franklin.

In his...

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TAISSUMANI June 06, 2014 - 6:01 am

Taissumani, June 6

Nancy Columbia, Her Name in Lights

KENN HARPER

Nancy Columbia was the best-known Inuk of her day. Her time in the public eye lasted from her birth in 1893 to her effective retirement from show business with her marriage in 1922. Her career peaked over 100 years ago when, still in her teens, she wrote and starred in an early silent film, The Way...

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TAISSUMANI May 30, 2014 - 5:01 pm

Taissumani, May 30

Farley Mowat and the North, an appreciation

KENN HARPER

Farley Mowat, who died on May 6 just five five days shy of his 93rd birthday, was a giant among Canadian writers. He wrote 45 books, and over 15 million copies were sold worldwide. Farley wrote in many genres — and in some cases he created those genres.

Let’s dispel the notion that Farley wrote...

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TAISSUMANI May 23, 2014 - 5:38 pm

Taissumani, May 23

Meeting Farley Mowat

KENN HARPER

I met Farley Mowat, who died two weeks ago at 92, only a few times. The first was quite memorable.

It was in the spring of 1974, my last year of teaching in Arctic Bay. In that year the most interesting teachers’ conference of all time took place in Iqaluit — interesting because the guest speakers...

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TAISSUMANI May 16, 2014 - 3:57 pm

Taissumani, May 16

The Bear in the Ice Hole — Conclusion

KENN HARPER

Last week I presented the story of Knud Rasmussen falling into a hole in the ice with a polar bear, and of how he came to see the empathy and gratitude in the polar bear’s eyes when he caused his dogs to back off and apparently saved the bear’s life.

Rasmussen had promised himself that, if he...

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TAISSUMANI May 10, 2014 - 4:59 pm

Taissumani, May 9

The Bear in the Ice Hole

KENN HARPER

One of my favourite stories as told by Knud Rasmussen is not a retelling of an Inuit legend — although there are many that are memorable — but rather a recounting of one of his adventures while on a hunting trip.

It took place in northern Greenland. Rasmussen was on a bear hunt with Qulutanguaq,...

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TAISSUMANI May 02, 2014 - 10:39 am

Taissumani, May 2

Thule Revisited

KENN HARPER

Last week I looked at the ancient word Thule and its application to the most remote trading post in northern Greenland.

The Thule Station, the official name of which was “Cape York Station, Thule” was established in 1910 at the site of the Inuit village of Umanaq (Uummannaq) in a bay that the...

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