Monday, January 21, 2013

Inuit Art & Culture

Diving Bear by Alariaq Shaa, Cape Dorset, 2008
What better season than winter to learn about the cold weather Inuit culture?

Located within Arctic landscapes, Inuit communities reside in Canada, Alaska, Russia and the Northwest territories.  Since the arctic tundra does not promote the growth of trees, very few materials are available for building. As part of the Inuit lifestyle snow is commonly used to construct igloos.  When snow is not available, the Inuit people use animal skins to construct tent-like huts.  Commonly associated with igloos, Inuit people are referred to as “Eskimos”. Eskimos (or Esquimaux) or Inuit–Yupik (for Alaska: Inupiat–Yupik) peoples are indigenous peoples who have traditionally inhabited the circumpolar region.

To travel from one place to another, the Inuit people would assemble sleds made of animal bones and animal skins.  Large dogs, such as huskies, would then pull the sleds across the snow and ice.  Small boats were also built to hunt in the waters of the Arctic Ocean.  

Considered to play a large role in Inuit culture, many traditions have been carried with the Inuit people over time.  The Inuit people believe in maintaining a harmonious relationship between human beings, the land, plants and animals.  In order to maintain this balance of respect, resources are preserved and hunting restrictions are set in place. 

Storytelling remains a key part within Inuit culture.  Knowledge of Inuit history, the land, plants and wildlife, has been passed down through the generations of storytelling.  These tales of oral history have inspired Inuit artists around the world.  Drum dancing and throat song are traditional aspects that continue to unite people of the Inuit culture.

Explore the contemporary art, culture and environment of the Inuit people on display at Dennos Museum’s Inuit Gallery in Traverse City,Missouri.  Exhibit highlights include Inuit stonecut, tapestries  and more from the late 1950’s to the present. Featured artists are from Nunavut, a Canadian territory in the Canadian Arctic. 

For more news about contemporary Inuit culture:

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