CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 2 . . . . September 22, 2000
"The cold climate and rugged terrain make the Arctic a challenging place to travel in. Those who do are guided on their journey by inuksuk that stand along the way. These landmarks can show the way forward, as well as the safest and best routes home. Years ago, knowledge of these routes was passed on orally. An Inuk could tell another how to travel across vast distances by describing the landscape and the various shapes of the inuksuk along the way. One man told of travelling almost 2,000 km (over 1,200 miles) guided by a song his father taught him describing the inuksuk he should look out for that would mark his way."The image of a traditional Inuit stone structure, or inuksuk, silhouetted against an arctic sky, has become a familiar symbol. Author Mary Wallace, in consultation with Inuit elders and other experts, gives a fascinating introduction in words, photographs and paintings to the many forms of the inuksuk structure and its unique place in Inuit life and culture.
Eleven paintings depict different inuksuk, with the Inuit names written in their language. There is a guide to the Inuktituk names at the back of the book as well as an index. Archival and modern photographs accompany each painting. Each stone structure has a purpose, such as pointing the way to a good fishing spot or indicating where meat is cached. The descriptions are clear and well written and draw the reader on to the next chapter. The skill of building an inuksuk is traditionally passed down from one generation to the next. Step by step instruction are provided along with photographs so that readers can build their own inuksuk.
The introduction to the book is written by Norman Hallendy who is a research fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Nunavut Research Institute and the Smithsonian Institution. He says, "When you look at an old inuksuk, you are seeing more than just a stack of stones. You are seeing the thoughts of another person left upon the land." What a wonderful way to look at the pictures in this book.
Luella Sumner is the librarian at the Red Rock Public Library, Red Rock, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.