Module 4: Mythology Proving Science

TEK and Science

This video is made by a caucasian biology teacher in Alaska who writes curriculum that integrates TEK and science.  He is a bit of a rambler, but near the end he links supposedly superstitious behavious and myths with scientific evidence.  The two examples he uses is that every 25/30 years, the Inuit Shaman would tell the village to burn all of their fishing gear at the end of a fishing season.  Given the scarcity of resources to make this gear, this would seem preposterous.  However, they would make new fishing gear, and not to catch the same fish.  They would alternate between crustaceans and vertebrates every 20-30 years as their main sustenance.  Modern science now shows that the Arctic ocean goes through 20/30 year temperature cycles that influence whether crustaceans or vertebrates flourish.  The Inuit would fish for whatever fish was plentiful.  This explains how the crab fishery is in ruins today–the Western market demanded it when the natural stocks were low.  Now they have been fished to the point where they may not recover. 

While I love the beauty of tradition and science corroborating each other, his description lacks insight into the spiritual nature of the myths and behaviours.  Many of the comments about the video are positive, but question the “superstitions” of the Inuit.  Being that he is caucasian, he likely isn’t versed on the spiritual nature of the myths and behaviours, but this is such an important concept for the Inuit, and given that it is brought up by viewers, it does need to be addressed properly so that the behaviours/myths aren’t “explained away” or commodified and dismissed as superstitions.

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