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Becoming Inummarik

Becoming Inummarik: Men's Lives in an Inuit Community

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  • Book Info
    Becoming Inummarik
    Book Description:

    What does it mean to become a man in the Arctic today? Becoming Inummarik focuses on the lives of the first generation of men born and raised primarily in permanent settlements. Forced to balance the difficulties of schooling, jobs, and money that are a part of village life with the conflicting demands of older generations and subsistence hunting, these men struggle to chart their life course and become inummariit - genuine people. Peter Collings presents an accessible, intelligent, humorous, and sensitive account of Inuit men who are no longer youths, but not yet elders. Based on over twenty years of research conducted in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Becoming Inummarik is a profound and nuanced look at contemporary Inuit life that shows not just what Inuit men do, but who they are. Collings recounts experiences from his immersion in the daily lives of Ulukhaktok's men - from hunting and sharing meals to playing cards and grocery shopping - to demonstrate how seemingly mundane activities provide revelations about complex issues such as social relationships, status, and maturity. He also reflects on the ethics of immersive anthropological research, the difficulties of balancing professional and personal relationships with informants, and the nature of knowledge in Inuit culture. Becoming Inummarik shows that while Inuit born into a modern society see themselves as different from their parents' generation, their adherence to traditional ideas about life ensures that they remain fully Inuit even as their community has witnessed drastic upheaval.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9032-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  4. Maps
    (pp. xiv-2)
  5. 1 Time for a Snack
    (pp. 3-38)

    The drive from the airport to town is less than three kilometres, a dusty trip along a gravel road on a dry summer day in June 2007. Despite five regularly scheduled flights each week – three from Yellowknife, two from Inuvik – and numerous charters, the arrival of a plane still draws a crowd. Ulukhaktok’s population is just a little over four hundred people, but there is still a sizable group here, a combination of departing and arriving passengers and their families and friends, some airport-associated workers, and a few Inuit who are simply passing time, curious to know who is coming...

  6. 2 Things Are Really Changing around Here
    (pp. 39-79)

    It is a dark and quiet evening in October 1992. My Sorel boots crunch and squeak on the packed snow as I climb the stairs to Charlie Hanayi’s apartment. I really should get some kamiks, traditional hand-sewn boots with thick, moose-hide soles and seal or caribou uppers. Sorels are very clumsy, and terrible for walking. My feet will be sore later tonight.

    I knock nervously at the door, then open it myself and announce my presence. Though it is customary to just walk in, I am only three months into fieldwork, and I am not yet used to just walking...

  7. 3 A Congenial Dolt Learns about Inuit Culture
    (pp. 80-114)

    In the previous chapter I noted that the life course perspective allows us to link the individual’s experience of growing into adulthood to a larger cultural context. Although the life course approach has certain limits, it remains useful because of those links. The men in the cohort under study here are the product of a unique set of social and historical circumstances. They are the first to be born and raised within the context of a permanent settlement, yet they are intimately familiar with the rapidly eroding contact-traditional lifestyle that links with the Inuit cultural past. An exploration of Inuit...

  8. 4 He’s a Good Friend, but He’s a Crook
    (pp. 115-161)

    It is still early morning, and I am happily writing field notes on the laptop, sipping hot coffee and trying to ignore my chilly feet. I have been in Ulukhaktok for four days now after another brief trip south, and I am slowly getting used to what will be my home for the next three months. There isn’t very much to see, as “home” is an 8 × 12 box with four-foot walls and a steeply pitched roof so that I can stand in the middle. My sleeping bag rests on a platform at the back, my gear stored underneath....

  9. 5 Driving Around
    (pp. 162-202)

    I am out visiting, walking around the settlement, engaged in my nightly routine of interviewing and social visiting. There are twenty-two men in the study sample, so I need to keep at it if I am to interview each one every two weeks. I am a bit behind on the work. Some of my informants are difficult to corner for an interview. They keep themselves busy, or they are simply difficult to find. I also have developed my own friendships with Inuit who are not in the study sample, and so I sometimes lose opportunities for interviews by visiting elsewhere....

  10. 6 I’m Experimenting
    (pp. 203-237)

    Once September arrives, Ulukhaktomiut start thinking about Fish Lake. Both a time and a place, Fish Lake has long been an important part of the seasonal round, a time when the Arctic char return from the ocean into the larger lakes to spawn. Char are the most valued fish in the local diet, taken at different times of the year as opportunity permits. In July, and again in August, Inuit set nets in the local bays, catching char as they move up and down the coast. Young people will fish for them with rod and reel. In the spring, Inuit...

  11. 7 Expensive Women and Unbalanced Lives
    (pp. 238-269)

    It is late November, and I am once again sitting on Isaac’s sofa. We are drinking tea and watching television. Normally, I would see Isaac at the end of the evening; my usual schedule is to go out to collect my interviews, and stop to see Isaac later, perhaps around midnight. But I have not seen him for several days, and I am a bit ahead on my interviewing. Tonight is a night off from waving around harvest forms.

    Isaac’s two oldest children are out and about: Ronald, his son, is playing out this evening with some other boys; I...

  12. 8 Sometimes I Can Feel Heavy
    (pp. 270-316)

    Late winter to early spring is a difficult time for many Inuit. Christmas has long since faded into the distance, and even though March is marked by the return of a normal photoperiod, there is not much to do around town. Easter is some weeks away, and the weather is not ideal for most Inuit to consider going out on the land. It is still far too early for spring fishing, as the fish are not ready to bite, and standing over a fishing hole is merely an exercise in getting cold. A few of the more determined hunters make...

  13. 9 It Feels Good to Give That Much
    (pp. 317-350)

    As I have reflected upon the various experiences I have had in Ulukhaktok, it has become increasingly clear to me that the important lesson Inuit men learn as they mature is that becoming a person is more about cognitive development than material development. That is, regardless of social and economic contexts, manhood is largely about achieving an ideal model of what it means to be a person. Other societies, including those in of the United States and Canada, typically view transitions from one life stage to the next as based on observable markers such as changes in household structure, physical...

  14. 10 Real Northern Men
    (pp. 351-378)

    “We should go out hunting once more before you have to leave. You should go out on the land one more time,” Charlie Hanayi says. As usual, we are sitting in his apartment in the fourplex, drinking coffee and playing cribbage. His girlfriend, who moved in during midwinter, is at her parents’ house for the evening. They are in town briefly to resupply before going back down to Mashuyak, where they will remain through break-up. There’s a solid sheet of fast ice between town and Mashuyak, but it has been warm, and cracks are opening and getting wider. This will...

  15. Glossary of Inuinnaqtun Terms
    (pp. 379-384)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 385-400)
  17. Index
    (pp. 401-406)