The End of My Research – But the Inuit Live On

Before I started this blog assignment, I knew close to nothing about the Inuit. I knew they ate lots of meat, they lived in the coldest regions of North America and on some other lands, and I called them Eskimos. Aside from that, I didn’t know anything about their culture.

When I was asked to discover two articles related to the Inuit, one of the articles I had come across was written by who I presume to be the executive editors of the newspaper. The article covered many different regions, as it was titled as an update on Canadian societal controversies, but there was a large section writing about how the Inuit were in a tough battle between the government of Quebec about the repossession of Native land for modern construction of dams, roads, etc. This surprised me because whenever I had thought of the regions where the Inuit would inhabit, I pictures large oceans, frozen lakes, hardly passable terrain – basically nothing that would be potentially modernized/utilized by a government. That was my single story, but then here I was being presented an example that resonated strongly with United States natives, a strong and current example being the Dakota Pipeline controversy. I don’t know why I was not conscious of the correlation, but it became obvious after reading.

From what I can conclude from my research, the effect of tourism has been relatively harmless. Multiple articles I read spoke about the majority of Inuit people abandoning the culture’s heritage due to the recognition that modernization made life easier, and prospected a better life for many people. But after the arrival of tourists who wanted to know more about the Inuit culture while demonstrating critical cultural relativism, many of the Inuit people embarked on a rediscovery of their own culture, which is now celebrated through festivals and demonstrations for curious tourists. There were some obvious ethnocentric ideologies, but almost entirely based on their traditional diet of seal, and on the government sanctioned allowance for Inuit to hunt polar bears.

The research I conducted was as ethnographic as it possibly could be without actually being immersed in the Inuit culture. This research has deepened my knowledge on others but showing me that you cannot make either conclusions, or even determinations about a group of people without some degree of research on the group themselves. Before researching the Inuit, as I described, I had absolutely no idea about the substance of the culture. Having researched them now, I realize how important the evolution of ethnography really was, protecting the groups of people who cannot speak for themselves from inaccuracy and biased opinions of others.

Conclusively, without the digital research available to us for this project, there is no possible way this could have ever been completed. That isn’t to sat technology is flawless, but more that it is a double-edged sword; in order to reap the benefits, you must be aware of the negatives and possibility of inaccuracy or untrue information.

Inuit in Action: A Brief Look

inuit_fishing_for_sheefish_at_selawik_nwr
A group of Inuit ice fishing at Selawik. Traditionally, Inuit eat almost only meat in their diets.
inuit_dance_near_nome_1900
A group of Inuit performing traditional dance near Nome.
u-s-_secretary_of_state_john_kerry_canadian_foreign_minister_robert_nicholson_with_aboriginal_northerners_at_a_replica_inuit_village_in_aglukkaqs_hometown_of_inaquit_canada
John Kerry (Secretary of State) and Robert Nicholson (Canadian Foreign Minster), pose with an aboriginal family.

Works Cited:

U. (2015, April 24). [U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, flanked by Canadian Member of Parliament Leona Aglukkaq of Canada and Canadian Foreign Minister Robert Nicholson, poses with aboriginal northerners at a replica Inuit village in Aglukkaq’s hometown of Inaquit, Canada, just below the Arctic Circle, after the United States assumed a two-year chairmanship of the body during a meeting of its eight member nations and seven Permanent Representatives on April 24, 2015.]. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Secretary_of_State_John_Kerry,_Canadian_Foreign_Minister_Robert_Nicholson_with_aboriginal_northerners_at_a_replica_Inuit_village_in_Aglukkaq’s_hometown_of_Inaquit,_Canada.jpg

Inuit dance near Nome 1900 [“(…) An Eskimo dance near Nome. It was made in 1900.”]. (1900). Retrieved February 28, 2017, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inuit_dance_near_Nome_1900.jpg

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (n.d.). Inuit fishing for sheefish at Selawik NWR [ Inupiat fishing for sheefish at Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska]. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inuit_fishing_for_sheefish_at_Selawik_NWR.jpg

Why Does the Phrase “Global Tourism” Make Me Feel Uneasy?

When I combine the concept of global tourism and indigenous peoples, I instantly begin to think of the word arrogance. Maybe this word isn’t deserved of the tourist community, but for the most part I feel that tourists visit other countries with the mentality of their home country still in their mind. This isn’t always a bad thing, but there’s a reason Americans often have negative reputations as travelers. An example is of people who enter the selected country of travel with the notion of the country being in some way less important, valuable, valid, etc., simply based on acknowledging differences in the culture. I think this particularly relates to indigenous people because of the stigma often associated with them as inferior, dirty, or savage. The three indigenous groups I would like to visit are Australian aboriginals, arctic Inuit’s, and practically any group of people indigenous to South America. In regards to single stories, I approach them from the standpoint that neighboring cultural groups would describe them, often in the form of a stereotype. I don’t think all single stories necessarily portray negativity or judgement, but I also think that those that are negative or judgmental are the ones that need redirection, and often those people just need to be more educated on the subject. Single stories are formed from having limited view on a certain subject – a single view, for that matter. Often times, seemingly harmless stories or judgements harbor underlying criticisms, bias, or negative assumptions behind them. Examples are a assuming groups of people lack a certain form of communication, or access to resources. Generally, those comments allude to a lack of development or education among a group of people. That’s not to say that the single story is always wrong, but that they aren’t complete, they lack context, history, and interpretation.

Single stories:

Australia

  1. Aboriginals of Australia are believed to be uneducated
  2. Aboriginals are primitive

Inuit

  1. “Eat cute seals – cruel”
  2. Isolationists

South American

  1. Abuse drugs
  2. Extremely ancient, can’t catch up with modern societies