Law did not exist in
Inuit traditions as an abstract or autonomous body of knowledge that only
needed to be recorded on tape to be available. Moral and social principles
operating in the maintenance of social order varied in different contexts.
Moreover, these principles varied in different areas and changed over the
course of time.
The elders themselves
stressed the importance of the changes they had experienced since their
childhood. Leadership has passed to a younger generation. Today, the elders
often feel left out and yet they know they can still play an important role in
modern Inuit society. There is a need for synthesis of old and new conceptions
of leadership that takes into account the role of the elders as well as of the
The interviews for
this book were recorded at a closed-door workshop that was held on the land
outside the community of Kangiq&iniq from June 29 to July 6, 2000. Many
elders in this area have recollections from the pre-Christian period. Henry
Kablaalik, from Kangiq&iniq, agreed to act as co-ordinator of the project.
Eight elders from different areas were selected: Ollie Itinnuaq, Felix Pisuk,
Mariano Aupilaarjuk and Pujuat Tapaqti from Kangiq&iniq, Peter Suvaksiuq
from Arviat, Luke Nuliajuk from Uqsuqtuuq, and Jose Angutinngurniq and Levi
Iluittuq from Kuugaarruk.
The workshop took
place at Ollie Itinnuaq's camp and the setting was of great importance to its
success or failure. Ollie spent much time, money and energy to prepare the
workshop and rebuilt and adapted a cabin for that purpose. The meetings each
day were held in this wooden cabin. Sessions took place during the day as well
as the evening. Elders appreciated the format very much.
I think that whenever you are touched by something evil, then you have a feeling of fear. You want to run away and you are not comfortable. That is probably because something bad has come close to you. If a good tarniq came to you, you would not feel like that. If you were not accustomed to this, you would not feel comfortable. Even if it were good, it would still startle you. You would not want to feel its presence. A person would feel like this. You can mistake one for the other if you don’t know them well. When ministers are preaching, they always talk about part of this. The ministers try to heal the soul, whereas the angakkuit try to heal the body and the soul. It is only through getting rid of the bad, by making the tarniq better that they are able to heal. (Page 48)