Arctic Voices

Arctic Gardens Ebook - Chapter Three: The Gardens of the Inupiat and the Inuvialuit

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You see, the animals come to us. We always believed that the animals give themselves to us. We have never hunted them. That’s why we’re here today.... This is our garden. This is who we are. This is it. Point Hope, Alaska, resident Steve Oomituk

Chapter Three: The Gardens of the Inupiat and the Inuvialuit

While most of the Inupiats and the Inuvialuit (the Alaskan Eskimos and Canadian Inuit) also count on caribou for subsistence, theirs is a vastly different relationship with the natural environment. They are a people of the sea as well as of the land, traditionally taking a living from the bowhead and beluga whale, seal, walrus, and fish, as well as caribou, moose, Dall sheep, and other terrestrial wildlife. The Inupiat settlements stretch all across the length of Alaska’s northern coastal plain from Point Hope on the Chukchi Sea to Kaktovik. The Inuvialuit are centered around the Mackenzie Delta of the Northwest Territories. One exception to this seaoriented subsistence practice is the Inupiat village of Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska, located in the largest pass through the Brooks Range. These people are 200 miles from the ocean and hunt primarily the caribou that migrate through the pass. For most of these Native people, then, their gardens are in the sea and on the land. Our interviews emphasize their whaling, fishing and hunting pursuits.

Kaktovik Whale Hunt–Isaac Akootchook and James Lampe offering a prayer–Inupiat and The Whales, Kaktovik, Alaska –Photograph Subhankar Banerjee, 2001

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