A short introduction
“The greatest peril of life lies in the fact that human food consists entirely of souls. All the creatures that we have to kill and eat, all those that we have to strike down and destroy to make clothes for ourselves, have souls, like we have, souls that do not perish with the body, and which must therefore be propitiated lest their souls revenge themselves on us for taking away their bodies.” – An Inuit of Iglulik
“The Raven once went to the coast. He first broke both legs, then his wings, and finally even his head. He put a little red stone as his head. Then he fell down the cliff and was killed.” – The Raven, a story from Nunivak Island
The quote and the story already show that there is a complexity, diversity and, for western worldview, a certain strangeness in Inuit way of thinking, The Inuit have lived in the Arctic regions of Canadian, Alaska and Greenland for thousands of years and since 1999 in the autonomous province named Nunavut, which means “our land”. Living in the arctic climate zone, their lives are marked by a harsh environment. The nature stands in a strong contrast to the abundant and green landscapes of more southern Aboriginal Nations. There are no trees and few plants in general.
Even though there are only a few animal species in the Inuit home land, these animals are central to Inuit culture. The Inuit diet is bas
ed on animals. Nevertheless, animals aren’t reduced to a food source they are regarded as spiritual beings with souls. After hunting, Inuit pray for to the spirits of the killed animals. Appeasement with these spirits is necessary for successful hunting and fishing and for preventing them to seek revenge on the community. It is impossible to generalize this for all Inuit, though. Therefore I concentrated myself on the Inuit from Nunivak Island in further investigations.
References: – Hans Himmelheber, 2000: Where the Echo began
– Kelly Skinner and Laura Brill: Inuit Views of Nature. retrieved from: http://www.stlawu.edu/gallery/exhibitions/f/11nipirasait/skinner-brill.pdf