Friday, October 23, 2009
It's not news to remark that cultures tend to borrow from one another around the world. Just think what our food would be like without all the 'borrowed' spices we add in to make things interesting! Most people reading this blog have 'borrowed' the idea of a qajaq to make their lives more interesting and fun. When paddling Crotch Lake recently, I was reminded of another borrowed item that seems to be popping up with more and more frequency: The inkshuk!
I won't pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I do recall being on a small island in northern Foxe Basin years ago with a couple of Inuit hunters. We had stopped, partly because the ice was blocking our progress and partly because we were thirsty and needed to make a tea break. While we had our tea and waited for the tide to release the ice, we wandered around the island. It was covered with inuksuit, built over the years for no apparent purpose. Or so I thought...
With little to do while we waited, we began fooling about, piling one rock on top of another, building inuksuit! We went on to add to some of the others, making them more elaborate and higher. It turns out that people had been stopping on this little island for years and they did exactly what we were doing. They passed the time using the resources at hand: flat rocks.
Today, paddlers and others continue this fine traditional activity all over the place. Crotch Lake had dozens of inuksuit built from the abundant supply of stones by visitors over the years. So here is yet another cultural attribute that's been passed on by the Inuit to to rest of us!