Nunani: Now and then (Part one)
RACHEL ATTITUQ QITSUALIK
A long time ago, there were two large families. Each family lived in its own area, one on the coast and the other inland, and each hunted according to its own lifestyle. In fact, the families were completely different from each other, even in size. The inland group was larger by far than the coastal people. Yet, despite their differences, neither of these families particularly cared about the other. Either group was content to live in its own way.
But there came a time when the climate changed, catching the inland family off-guard. It seemed that all the game animals had migrated away, so that there was little food to support everyone, and life became difficult. The inland people became desperate, and they deliberated long and hard over whether to stay in their area or not.
Ultimately, they looked toward the coast, where life was different, but there was lots of game to be had. This, they saw, was the solution to their problems. They did not even have to leave their traditional lands. Half of them could pack up and move out onto the coast. They could just spread themselves out, so to speak.
They did notice that there was already another family living on the coast, of course. But, they thought, this family was smaller, so what would some newcomers matter to them? It looked like this smaller family was only occupying a little section of the coast. Surely they wouldn’t mind sharing a bit. In fact, it was all such a little matter that the inlanders were certain they wouldn’t even have to bother asking the coastal family for permission. Permission for what — surviving? After all, the land belonged to everybody.
The coming of the inland family was a trickle at first. The coastal family was a bit surprised to see them, but didn’t think much of it. And as time went by, it turned out that the two families were getting to know each other better. But there were a lot of odd encounters. Coastals and inlanders married once in a while, and such intermarriage was sometimes regarded with fear and uncertainty. And there were gross misunderstandings over culture. It turned out that the inlanders were pretty insecure, since they were new to the coast, and some of them became confused, even afraid. Many of the inlanders, who were cut off from the guidance of their family, started to take it upon themselves to do odd things.
A few became obsessed with trying to show the coastal people that the customs of the inlanders were the “right” ways, and they were occasionally willing to do so violently. When this happened, unfortunately, some members of the coastal family got violent right back at them. To the coastal people, such retaliation was fair and square. But to the inlanders, who were already twitchy because of living in this foreign area, any retaliation was labelled, “unjustified violence.”
A few members of the inland family went the opposite way. These inlanders just loved the customs of the coastal people, thought they were inherently “noble,” and wanted to completely abandon the inland ways in order to be just like the coastals. The coastal people were often accommodating toward this type of inlander, but mostly just thought of them as crazy. But, sadly, it was this very type of inlander that gave rise to the occurrence of some very unscrupulous sorts.
You see, since the two families lived very different lifestyles because of their very different areas, they admired each other’s things. Both families hungered for the unique crafts and resources belonging to the other. There was already a great demand for “coastal things” among those inlanders who thought of the coastal family as noble. Additionally, the inlanders still living back in their traditional area began insisting that their relatives send back coastal foods, animal hides, and other resources. It turned out, after a while, that the inlanders who had settled on the coast were now not only supporting themselves, but also the people back home.
So some of the inlanders began to specialize in sending back coastal goods to their relatives at home. And as competition for coastal goods increased, feuding began. And it wasn’t long before the most competitive inlanders figured out how to get ahead — by cheating the coastal people.
(Continued next week.)