Inuksuk, Inunnguaq, Inuksuit

Inuksuk

An Inuksuk is a stone marker that acts in the place of a person. They can serve many purposes and have been vital to the survival of Inuit out on the land. The inuksuit (plural) that are commonly used and created in the shape of a person are called Inunnguaq. Inuksuk have always been constructed out on the land from whatever stones were available in the immediate vicinity. Since each Inuksuk was built by hand with the stones on hand every one is different from the next.  Each one built represents the land around it and since it is built from the land it represents it also has a strong tie to the land for many Inuit. Once built they are considered sacred and if destroyed or disassembled, it is said to be a bad luck and some say shorten the life of the one who destroys it.

Inuksuit have been used for hunting and navigation mostly.  Inuit hunting caribou would build a kind of scarecrow made of a few stones high and would insert Arctic Heather in them so that the blowing wind would cause the heather to appear like human hair. Once spooked the caribou would stampeded along a path  by the aligned Inuksuit which ultimately led them into the arrows of awaiting hunters.

Inuiksuit were also built to show a direction or formed a window to lead the viewers eye to prime land for caches of meat, or other significant locations.

Today many Inuit display the Inuksuk as a symbol to signify pride in Inuit culture, the land and visual reminder to history and traditional values. This can be seen in the lower right image, as displayed outside a home in Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital.

To learn more about Inuksuit and Innungqaq visit these sources online. Peter Irniq an Inuit elder who calls himself an Inuit Cultural Activist explains further in a video available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKQ97rOwBH0

The Inuksuk Book : http://www.mapletreepress.com/book.aspx?id=1093

You can also watch the video podcast on how to build your own inuksuk here