Diminishing Knowledge: Inuit Nomenclature of the Land-Water Interface

Scott Heyes, Tuumasi Annanack

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


The Inuit of Kangiqsualujjuaq have maintained functional and spiritual connections with the landscape and waters of Arctic Quebec (Nunavik) for over four thousand years. While ethnographic studies about this ocean-going population have revealed their pragmatic relationships with the arctic milieu, less is known, however, about their perceptions of terrestrial and aquatic realms. Three fieldtrips to Kangiqsualujjuaq were undertaken between 2003 and 2005 to explore how three generations of Inuit perceived the land-water interface, a geographical setting regularly frequented and considered spiritually important to the Inuit. Surveys were carried out to determine whether Inuit regarded the sea as an extension of the “land”, a way of thinking about space that is common among indigenous islanders in southern latitudes. The research reported in this thesis involved the participation of thirty-four Inuit men and women from six families, whose ancestors once lived in separate hunting camps along the Ungava Bay coast. Using an intergenerational approach to explore whether perceptions of the land-water interface were consistent or inconsistent across and between generations, the cohort responded to questions about spatial concepts, travel patterns, traditional narratives, senses of place, and hunting knowledge. A series of drawing exercises, which were designed to understand how the cohort perceived the land-water interface pictorially, were performed by 13 Inuit participants and 14 Inuit adolescent students from the local School. Traditional methods of Inuit learning and transmitting knowledge about the land-water interface were also investigated to ascertain the extent to which pedagogical instruments underpin and mould Inuit perceptions of this setting. A series of knowledge-maps/trees were subsequently created for each family unit to illustrate the flow of traditional knowledge both among and across Inuit generations. The data derived from interviews and the draw
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2007 ArticNet Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM2007)
Place of PublicationOnline
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
Event2007 ArticNet Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM2007) - Collingwood, Canada
Duration: 11 Dec 200714 Dec 2007


Conference2007 ArticNet Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM2007)


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