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103. Inupiat figure

The word "Inuit" is plural for "Inuk," meaning "person," and is used to describe a diversity of cultures through- out the Arctic, ranging from the Kalaalit in Greenland to the Inupiat of northern Canada and Alaska, and to the Yupiit in western coastal Alaska and in Siberia. These hardy, adaptable people have a culture that is striking for its relative religious, social and economic homogeneity across more than 5,000 miles of Arctic coast and tundra. They live in one of the most inhospitable regions of the world, consisting mostly of flat, treeless plains with permanently frozen ground. Some groups are settled on rivers and depend primarily on fishing. Others follow inland caribou herds. Most coastal Inuit histori- cally have existed as hunters of maritime mammals (seals, walrus and whales; Dean R. Snow in Trigger and Washburn 1996:187-92). Their way of life always has been oriented to the sea for food and materials for clothing, shelter, tools and weaponry. Deeply held cultural values have stressed the excitement and prestige of hunting, and the need to appease the souls of animals killed for food and essentials (Lowenstein 1994:xi-xiii).

-Anna Jankowski (Augustana 2012) AR-343

 

This whalebone sculpture, carved by Harvey Pootoogooluk around 1990, represents one type of Inuit art that has developed out of traditional craft and tool making. The artist was born in the small Inupiat village of Shishmaref, located on Sarichef Island, five miles from the Alaskan mainland. He was raised in the traditional hunter- gatherer subsistence lifestyle of his people (Olson 2002:75-249 INU). Orphaned in his youth, Pootoogooluk was trained in men's skills by a former shaman. As an adult, he worked as a gold miner and hunter until he saw the drawings of Inupiat artist James Kivetoruk Moses. Pootoogooluk was so inspired by the work of Moses that he turned to creating art full time and, in the 1970s, became the first to carve whalebone dancers (Fair and Blodgett 2006:44+).

-Kate Ries (Augustana 2011), AR-343







Harvey Pootoogooluk (b. 1928, Inupiat, Shishmaref, Alaska), Inupiat figure, ca. 1990, Carved whale vertebra, Olson-Brandelle North American Indian Art Collection, Augustana College, (75-249 INU) 2005.1.77