The Inuksuk

On this page:

Inuksuk, Inuksuit

Popularity of the Inuksuk

What Do They Mean?

Do Other Places Have Inuksuit?

Is the Chinese Tower an Inuksuk?

Page Credits

On other pages:

URL for this page: http://www.pinnaclefarms.ca/ORIANAsite/AboutNameandLogo/InuksukNew.html

Inuksuk, Inuksuit

Inuksuks (the actual plural is inuksuit) are stone figures created by the first inhabitants of the Canadian north, the Inuit. The Inuit have lived in the areas now called Canada, Alaska, and Greenland for thousands of years and inuksuit can be found in all these regions.

The word "inuksuk" is an Inuktitut word meaning "to act in the capacity of a human" and comes from the word "inuk" which can be translated as "human being".

Popularity of the Inuksuk

Symbolism of InuksukIn the last decade, the inuksuk has captured the imagination of Canadians from coast to coast and human-like stone figures can be found along roadsides everywhere. Wear a T-shirt with an inuksuk on it and Canadians anywhere on the planet recognize it and smile.

On April 1, 1999, Canada's geographical and political map changed when a new jurisdiction, Nunavut, was created. Nunavut was formed from the eastern part of the Northwest Territories and was officially named Canada's third territory.

Nunavut, "our land" in Inuktitut, was created by an agreement between the Inuit of the Eastern and Central Arctic and the Canadian government. Amongst other things, the agreement gives Inuit the right to self-government and self-determination.

Not only has Nunavut made Inuit culture, concerns, and aspirations more visible, it has brought much more attention to the inuksuk, as you can see from the Nunavut flag.

Popular appeal combined with official recognition has expanded the inuksuk's realm from the cold Canadian north to the warmth of Canadian hearts and hearths everywhere.

What Do They Mean?

Inuksuk Caribou Rocks pictures Inuksuk Functions
Inuksuk Functions Astronomy, navigation Inuksuk Functions Niqirtsuituq
Inuksuk Functions North Star Inuksuk Functions communication

Do Other Places Have Inuksuit?

There are other inuksuit-like structures in the world. For examples, the apashektas of the Andes, the chortens of Nepal, the seite of Lapland, and the dorazy chaloveka of Siberia. And, of course, there is the Chinese tower. Here at ORIANA we can't tell you much about these other structures but we would like to know more. If you investigate them and would like to share your findings, let us know at oriana@magma.ca.

Kuan and InuksukIs the Chinese Tower an Inuksuk?

Whatever their individual function, one thing is true of all inuksuit: they were built with the intent that the information they represented would be available not just to the builders and their people, but for all people and for many generations to come. In the same vein, the builders of the Chinese towers had a vision that went beyond their own time.

Also, inuksuit serve both as landmarks and signposts, just as the Chinese towers did. Maybe the towers weren't the only structures that the ancient Chinese built.

So, can we say that the Chinese towers and the inuksuit were the same? To answer this would require more investigation. If you undertake this investigation and would like to share your findings, let us know at oriana@magma.ca.

Page Credits

Inuksukwww.arctictravel.com

Inuksukhttp://www.avonmaitland.on.ca/North/Welcome.html

Inuksukhttp://arcticcircle.uconn.edu/

Nunavut Flaghttp://www.gov.nu.ca/symbols.htm

ASC Mercury Series 149Inuksuit: Semalithic Figures by Inuit in the Canadian Arctic by Norman Hallendy; published in Threads of Arctic Prehistory: Papers in honour of William E. Taylor, Jr.; Archaeological Survey of Canada, Mercury Series, Paper 149, ISSN 0317-2244, no. 149; published by Canadian Museum of Civilization, P.O. Box 3100, Station B, Hull, Quebec, J8X 4H2, Canada.

Source for "Inuksuk, Inuksuit", "What Do They Mean" and "Do Other Places Have Inuksuit".