Igloos, History and Art
Trip Start Aug 01, 2010
43Trip End Feb 16, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
For a little while, two elders did the throat singing. The two ladies sat face to face with the microphone between them and made breathing noises in a way like a duet. It must take a lot of practice to get the song memorized and I don't know how they make that noise in their throats, it's so low and gutteral. Very strange, somewhat haunting, and beautiful in it's own way.
On a near-daily basis, someone asks us if we'd like to buy their art. We have been appraoched in the grocery store but ususally we get knocks on our door. Sometimes we say no because we can't buy all the art in Gjoa Haven, but sometimes the carvings or wall hangings or drawing are
Most nights over the holidays there have been community games going on at the old gym. Everyone participates and has an opportunity to make some money if they win. The games are simple such as throwing dice to get a certain number, untying a long string of knots, passing a ball around in a circle until the music stops, and seeing who can drink a baby bottle full of juice the fastest. It's a great way to get the community together for a laugh. Almost all the adults play the games, whilte the parents of small babies sit on the sidlines and the young kids run around
I think it was in 1903 that the Norwegian explorer, Captain Amundsen, 'founded' the hamlet of Gjoa Haven. He and his crew were the first to sail through the North West Passage. They traveled in a little ship called the Gjoa Haven. When the arctic weather got bad, they pulled into the little sandy bay which provided natural protection from the sea and they settled there for two years. The purpose of their expedition was to find and study the Magnetic North Pole. And so they did,
One story I particularly enjoyed reading was of the Norwegian people trying to build an igloo (or as they spell it here 'iglu' which means house). While the Norwegians made an unsuccessful attempt at building a house out of snow, the Inuit people looked on and began to comment and laugh. They soon were laughing very hard. The story read that they laughed so hard they were falling over and crying, hooting and hollering at the funny way in which the Norwegians were building an iglu. I really find this story amusing because it articulates how different two cultures can be from each other. In the end, the Inuit people helped the Norwegians by showing them how to build an iglu properly.
An expedition of a diferent sort happened near Gjoa Haven sixty years later, in 1963. This one was of a Anthopological nature and performed by the explorer Jean Briggs from Newfoundland. She came to this area to study the Eskimos (as they were called at that time, now Inuit is the respectful term) and aftewards wrote a book called Never in Anger which is a facinating read about cultural emotions.
We walked out to the Amunsum monument on a day that was so cold we were bundled up from head to toe. The only exposed body part was our eyes but even still the skin between our eyes was freezing and we had to hold our mittens over it. Even out eyes were cold! We saw there had been an iglu building competition to see who can build a small snow house the fastest. We did not get to witness the competitive action but we did find the iglus next to the monument where I read the story of the Norwegians trying to build them. It was the first time I"ve seen a real iglu from the north.
Tomorrow we will celebrate the New Year at the top of the world!!