Friday, October 27, 2006

A Native Inuit Mourns a Lost Way of Life

Taptuna is -- in his bones and his history -- a hunter and trapper. It is what he loves, he says. But the world he grew up in, a world of winter igloos and summer fishing camps and working the traplines, is changing. Now, like so many other native Inuit, he is confined, and sits in an office watching an ancient way of life slip away.
It is always sad when people are losing the way they have been living for thousands of years. As he explains:
"There's no future living off the land. Those days are gone," he says. He figures it costs an average of about $60,000 to equip a hunter to go out. Add preciously priced fuel for the skimobile or boat motor. The meager snow cover on the land is playing havoc with snowmobiles. "You're hitting rock, and you're doing big-time damage."
Wait, did he just say skimobiles, boat motors, and $60,000 worth of gear? WTF? I don't remember those as being part of the Inuit's ancient way of life.

But, at least they are still living in the igloos, right?
Outside, the hamlet of 1,400 sprawls across the rounded landscape in a jumble of angular houses, scattered on the land like a child's jacks. Inside those modern buildings, the sons and granddaughters of Inuit who lived in snow houses and kept warm in wolf fur and sealskin now sit in shirt sleeves by their furnaces. They are watching satellite television instead of hunting.
Doh, that basically sounds like Anytown, USA.

I remember watching a show on TV talking about how the Inuit were losing their ancient way of life due to global warming and increased pesticide concentrations in marine mammal fat. I expected to see tribes living in log cabins or igloos that would then go out in their kayaks and hunt with spears for seals or walruses. Or maybe they would hunt polar bears being transported by a dog sled. Instead I saw people hunting for seals using an aluminum power boat and shooting them with rifles.

Maybe it is just me, but I think their ancient way of living is already gone.

via The Washington Post

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