Sculpting the Verse

Linking the Land, Sea and Air in Inuit Sculpture and Poetry.

ᑭᒡᒐᖅᑐᐃᔩᑦ ᓴᖅᑭᑎᑦᑎᓂᖅ ᓄᓇᖃᖅᑳᖅᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᐱᒋᔭᖏᑦ
A sculpture made of stone, bone, ebony and brass

While there are many examples of translated poetry available to an English-speaking audience, it is rare to see an Inuktitut poem published alone with no translated text. The poems featured on the following pages have previously been translated, sometimes more than once, into English. As a result, we have decided to showcase each exclusively in modern Inuktitut, in part to bring them back full circle and to allow the carvings to act as guides for the reader.

The carvings in this Portfolio were painstakingly chosen because each communicates ideas and imagery that exceeds its physical form while evoking the emotions relayed within their accompanying poems. The flowing language of these poems demonstrates their strength as personal and communal art. They were written or spoken with the express purpose of sharing deep feelings.

The challenge in determining these pairings lay in finding physical manifestations of the primary themes these poems follow and the deep connection between their speakers and the land and water that sustain Inuit. Inuit carvings in particular are often depictions of action, whether they be animals, hunters or mothers amaaqing their round-faced babies. Inuit poetry, in contrast, often expresses ideas bigger and more abstract than what can easily be translated into a physical form. This collection of art reveals another layer of the brilliance of Inuit artistry, both as oral storytellers and as visual artists able to embody the most abstract ideas in elegant physical sculptures.

ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᑦ ᐱᓪᓚᕆᐅᑎᒋᔪᑦ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᒐᖏᑦᑎᑐᑦ, ᑖᓐᓇ ᐱᓕᕆᐊᒃᓴᖅ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᓂᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐅᓂᒃᑲᐅᓯᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐊᔾᔨᖃᖅᖢᑎᒃ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᓂᒃ, ᑖᒃᑯᐊ ᓂᕈᐊᖅᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᑦ ᖃᓄᖅ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᑦ ᐃᒃᐱᒋᑦᑎᐊᕆᐊᖃᕐᓂᑦᑎᓐᓂᒃ. ᑕᐃᒪᓕ ᐅᖃᐅᓰᑦ ᐊᔾᔨᒌᖏᑦᑐᑦ ᖃᓪᓗᓈᑎᑑᓕᖅᑎᑕᐅᖃᑦᑕᕐᒪᑕ, ᑭᓯᐊᓂᓕ ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᑦ ᑕᐃᒪᓐᓇ ᑎᑎᕋᖅᑕᐅᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᖃᓪᓗᓈᑎᑑᓕᖅᑎᑕᐅᕙᖏᑦᑐᑦ. ᑕᐃᒪᓕ ᑕᕝᕙᓂ ᑎᑎᕋᖅᓯᒪᔪᓂᒃ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᖅ ᖃᓪᓗᓈᑎᑑᓕᖅᑎᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᐳᑦ, ᐃᓛᓐᓂᒃᑯᑦ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᐊᖏᖢᑎᒃ, ᖃᓪᓗᓈᑎᑑᓕᖅᑎᑕᐅᓯᒪᔪᑦ. ᑕᐃᒪᓕ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᑎᑦᑎᓇᓱᓕᖅᐳᒍᑦ ᑕᒪᐃᓐᓂᒃ ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑑᓕᖅᑎᑕᐅᓯᒪᔪᓂᒃ, ᐅᑎᖅᑎᑦᑎᓇᓱᒃᖢᑕ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᑐᑭᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᖅᓯᒪᔪᓄᑦ ᑕᑯᔭᐅᖃᑦᑕᕐᓂᐊᕐᒪᑕ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᓂ ᐅᖃᓕᒫᖅᑐᓄᑦ. ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᖅᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᑕᕝᕙᓂ ᐱᓕᕆᐊᖑᔪᒥᑦ ᐊᒃᓱᕈᒻᒪᕆᒃᖢᑎᒃ ᓂᕈᐊᖅᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᑦ ᐱᔾᔪᑎᒋᓪᓗᒍ ᐊᑐᓂ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖃᕐᒪᑕ ᐃᓱᒪᒋᔭᐅᔪᓂᒃ ᐱᑕᖃᓕᓲᖑᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᑎᒍᑦ. ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᐅᖃᐅᓰᑦ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᑎᒍᑦ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᓂᖃᖅᐳᑦ ᓴᖏᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᓲᕐᓗ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᑎᑐᑦ. ᑎᑎᕋᖅᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᓯᒪᕗᑦ ᐅᕝᕙᓘᓐᓃᑦ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑕᐅᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᑎᑦᑎᓇᓱᒃᓗᑎᒃ ᐃᒃᐱᒋᒻᒪᕆᒃᑕᖏᓐᓂᒃ. ᐊᒃᓱᕈᕈᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᕐᓕ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᑦ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᒐᐃᓪᓗ ᐃᓚᒌᓕᖅᑎᑕᐅᓇᓱᒃᖢᑎᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᓂᖃᒻᒪᕆᖕᒪᑕ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᒧᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓄᓇᒧᑦ ᐃᒪᕐᒧᓪᓗ ᐃᓄᒃᓄᑦ ᐊᑐᖅᑕᐅᒻᒪᕆᒃᑐᓂᒃ. ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᖅᐸᒃᑕᖏᑦ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᓂᖃᓲᖑᕗᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᖑᐊᖅᖢᑎᒃ, ᓱᕐᓗ ᓂᕐᔪᑎᒍᐊᑦ, ᐊᖑᓇᓱᖑᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᐅᕝᕙᓘᓐᓃᑦ ᐊᕐᓇᐃᑦ ᐊᒫᖑᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᕿᑐᕐᖓᑯᓗᖕᒥᓂᒃ. ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᖏᑦ, ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᓂᖃᓲᖑᕗᑦ ᐊᖏᓂᖅᓴᐅᔪᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑐᑭᓕᐅᕈᓐᓇᖏᖢᑎᒍᑦ ᖃᓄᖅ ᑐᑭᖃᓪᓚᕆᖕᒪᖔᑕ. ᑖᒃᑯᐊ ᑲᑎᖅᓱᖅᑕᐅᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᓂᖃᕆᕗᑦ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᖅᑎᒻᒪᕆᐅᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ, ᑕᒪᑮᖑᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᕈᓐᓇᕐᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᑲᒻᒪᕆᐅᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ.

A sculpture made of stone, bone, ebony and brass
Creativity of the Spirit: Distant Relations (c. 2013) Stone, bone, ebony and brass 22.9 x 20.3 x 12.7 cm COURTESY WADDINGTON’S AUCTIONEERS AND APPRAISERS, TORONTO ᒪᐃᑯᓪ ᒫᓯ ᑑᕐᖓᕐᒧᑦ ᐋᖅᑭᒃᑕᐅᔪᖅ: ᐃᓚᒌᒃᑐᑦ (2013) ᐅᒃᑯᓯᒃᓴᖅ, ᓴᐅᓂᖅ, ᕿᔪᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓴᕕᕋᔭᒃ 22.9 × 20.3 × 12.7 ᓴᓐᑕᒦᑕᑐᓂᔭᐅᔪᖅ ᐅᑯᓇᖓᑦ WADDINGTON’S AUCTIONEERS AND APPRAISERS, ᑐᕌᓐᑐ

ᐊᑯᑦᑐᔫᒃ (ᐅᓪᓗᕆᐊᒃ ᐅᐱᕐᖓᒃᓵᒥ)
ᐃᙱᖅᑐᖅ ᒫᑕ ᓇᓱᒃ

Akuttujuuk (Stars that Herald Spring)
Sung by Martha Nasook

ᐊᑯᑦᑐᔫᒃ! ᓴᖅᑭᒋᔅᓯᒃ!
ᐃᓅᒐᒪ ᓱᓕ

There is so much joy in anticipation that the excitement of things to come is sometimes even more delightful than the actual event. In this short song, stars are harbingers of the longer, brighter days of spring. For Inuit, seasons don’t follow the typical four-season cycle, but instead follow weather and animal migration patterns with regional variation (usually six seasons, sometimes more). The period after the coldest days of winter brings better hunting and warmer days spent basking in the sunlight that reflects off the bright gleaming snow.

In the accompanying carving, Michael Massie, CM, RCA, combines stone, bone, ebony and brass to great effect and captures the wonder that humans gazing into the heavens have felt for millennia. The shine of the brass in the right light twinkles like stars, while the figure’s large round eyes take in the grandeur of the sky. One can imagine the light specks of green in the dark stone as the very constellations of which the singer speaks.

ᖁᕕᐊᓇᒻᒪᕆᒃᐳᖅ ᐱᓕᕆᖃᑕᐅᓪᓗᓂ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᖁᕕᐊᓇᖅᑐᑦ ᑎᑭᓐᓂᐊᕐᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᑭᓯᐊᓂᓕ ᖁᕕᐊᓇᒃᑲᓐᓂᒪᕆᒃᑐᖅ ᐱᓕᕆᖃᑎᒌᒃᖢᓂ ᑕᕝᕙᓂ ᓇᐃᑦᑐᑯᓗᖕᒥᑦ ᐃᖏᐅᓯᕐᒥᒃ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᑎᑦᑎᕗᑦ, ᐊᑯᓂᐅᓂᖅᓴᒥᒃ ᐅᓪᓘᓂᐊᖅᑐᓂᒃ ᐅᐱᕐᒑᒃᑯᑦ. ᐃᓄᖕᓄᓪᓕ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᑕᓪᓕᒪᐅᔪᑦ ᐊᓯᔾᔨᓲᖑᔪᑦ ᓲᕐᓗ ᐊᕐᕌᒍᒥᑦ ᐅᑭᐅᖅ, ᐅᐱᕐᖓᒃᓵᖅ, ᐊᐅᔭᖅ, ᐅᑭᐊᒃᓵᓯ, ᒪᓕᓲᖑᖏᒻᒪᑕ ᑭᓯᐊᓂᓕ ᒪᓕᓲᖑᔪᑦ ᓯᓚ ᖃᓄᐃᓐᓂᐊᕐᓂᖓᓂᒃ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓂᕐᔪᑏᑦ ᐃᖏᕐᕋᓂᐊᕐᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᓇᒧᖓᓂᐊᕐᓂᖏᓐᓂᒡᓗ (ᑕᐃᒪᓕ ᒪᓕᓲᖑᕗᑦ ᐃᒻᒪᖄ 6-ᓄᑦ ᐅᕝᕙᓘᓐᓃᑦ ᐊᒥᓲᓂᖅᓴᓄᑦ). ᑕᐃᒪᓕ ᐅᑭᐅᒃᑯᑦ ᓂᒡᓚᓱᒻᒪᕆᓚᐅᖅᑎᓪᓗᒍ ᖁᕕᐊᓱᓲᖑᕗᑦ ᐅᖅᑰᓯᕙᓪᓕᐊᓂᐊᕐᓂᖓᓂᒃ ᐊᖑᓇᓱᒍᓐᓇᑦᑎᐊᕐᓂᐊᕐᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐅᖅᑰᓯᕙᓪᓕᐊᓂᐊᕐᓂᖓᓂᒃ ᓯᕿᓂᕐᒧᓪᓗ ᐆᓇᖅᑐᒧᑦ ᐃᒃᐱᒍᓱᑦᑎᐊᕐᓗᑎᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᐳᑎᒧᑦ ᐊᐅᒃᐸᓪᓕᐊᔾᔪᑕᐅᓂᐊᖅᖢᓂ. 

ᐃᓚᒋᔭᐅᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᓂᖓ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᓂᒃ, ᒪᐃᑯ ᒫᓯ, ᑲᑎᖅᓱᐃᓯᒪᕗᖅ ᐅᔭᖅᑲᓂᒃ, ᓴᐅᓂᕐᓂᒃ, ᕿᔪᖕᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓴᕕᕋᔭᖕᓂᒃ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᑎᑦᑎᓇᓱᒃᖢᓂ ᖃᓄᖅ ᐃᓄᓕᒫᑦᑎᐊᑦ ᑕᑯᖃᑦᑕᖅᑕᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐅᑭᐅᓂᒃ ᐊᒥᓱᒻᒪᕆᐊᓗᖕᓂᒃ. ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᓴᕕᕋᔭᐃᑦ ᓯᕿᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᖃᐅᒻᒪᒃᑎᑕᐅᒑᖓᑕ ᕿᓪᓕᖅᓯᓲᖑᕗᑦ ᓲᕐᓗ ᐅᓪᓗᕆᐊᑎᑐᑦ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᐃᓄᖑᐊᑦ ᐃᔨᖏ ᑕᐅᑐᖑᐊᖅᖢᑎᒃ ᑕᑉᐸᐅᖓ ᕿᓚᖕᒧᑦ.

A ceramic sculpture of an individual carrying a tray that has another individual carrying a smaller tray. Many faces are protruding the larger individual's body.
Pierre Aupilardjuk and Leo Napayok Messages for the Afterlife (c. 2014) Ceramic 61 x 33 x 33 cm COURTESY ART GALLERY OF BURLINGTON ᐱᐊᕆ ᐊᐅᐱᓛᕐᔪᒃ + ᓕᐅ ᓇᐸᔪᖅ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᐅᔪᖅ ᑐᖁᓚᐅᖅᖢᓂ ᐃᓅᓂᖅ (2014) ᒪᕋᖅ 61 x 33 x 33 ᓴᓐᑕᒦᑕᑐᓂᔭᐅᔪᖅ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᕐᕕᖕᒥᑦ ᐴᓕᖕᑕᓐᒥᑦ

ᐱᓯᖓ ᑎᒎᓪᓕᒐᐅᑉ
Untitled I
Attributed to Tegoodligak

ᐊᐃ ᐊᐃ

ᐃᖅᑲᐅᒪᕙᒃᑲ ᐊᑐᖅᓯᒪᔭᒃᑲ
ᐊᓄᕆᕐᒥ ᖃᔭᒐ ᑎᒃᑕᐅᕗᖅ
ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᒥᑭᔫᒐᓗᐊᑦ ᐊᖏᓪᓕᖕᒪᑕ
ᑭᓯᐊᓂᓕ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᐱᒻᒪᕆᐅᔪᖅ
ᐃᓅᓗᓂ ᓱᓕ ᐅᓪᓗᖅᑐᓯᓕᖅᑐᖅ ᑕᑯᓗᒍ
ᓯᓚᕐᔪᐊᖅ ᖃᐅᒪᓕᖅᑎᓪᓗᒍ

When I think of my childhood playing on the tundra, there is always wind in my memories. This poem flows as though carried on an arctic breeze and through the hair of a pensive hunter. I can’t help but think how much waiting and contemplating Inuit hunters must do in their daily search for, as the writer says, “all the vital things.” The words here may be rarely spoken, but resonate deeply with anyone who has ever felt the northwinds on their cheeks and been awed by its power. No matter how much time one spends on the land or away from it, the vastness of the tundra is breathtaking, and Tegoodligak expresses that feeling with precision. His language calls to mind the emotional tone of American poet Wallace Stevens. Expressing a kind of deep knowledge of the world that is both all around us and simultaneously difficult to grasp.  

Looking at Pierre Aupilardjuk and Leo Napayok’s collaboration Messages for the Afterlife, it is easy to see the link between the sculpture and the poem. The details in this upturned face reflect the knowledge of the one great thing of which the poem speaks; seeing life as a gift and appreciating it on a grander scale than just one’s individual experiences and the time it takes to come to understand that knowledge. The many faces on the body of this figure have the potential to crowd the image, yet he still holds an expression of knowing serenity, which is precisely evoked when looking at this piece.  

ᐃᖅᑲᐅᒪᓪᓗᖓ ᓄᑕᕋᐅᑎᓪᓗᖓ, ᓯᓚᒥᑦ ᐱᖑᐊᖅᑎᓪᓗᖓ, ᐊᓄᕌᖏᓐᓇᐅᔭᓚᐅᖅᐳᖅ. ᑖᓐᓇ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᖅ ᑕᐃᒪᓐᓇ ᐊᓄᕆᑐᑦ ᐱᓯᒪᕗᖅ ᓲᕐᓗ ᐅᑭᐅᖅᑕᖅᑑᑉ ᐊᓄᕆᖓ ᐊᖑᓇᓱᒃᑎᐅᓪᓗ ᓄᔭᖓᓂᒃ ᐊᐅᓚᑎᑦᑎᓪᓗᓂ. ᐃᓱᒪᓲᖑᔪᖓ ᖃᓄᖅ ᐊᑯᓂᐅᑎᒋᔪᖅ ᐅᑕᖅᑭᖃᑦᑕᕐᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐊᖑᓇᓱᒃᑏᑦ ᕿᓂᖅᖢᑎᒃ ᓂᕐᔪᑎᓂᒃ ᐊᖑᓂᐊᖅᑕᖏᓂᒃ, ᑕᐃᒪᓕ ᑖᓐᓇ ᑎᑎᕋᖅᑐᖅ ᐅᖃᓚᐅᖅᐳᖅ, “ᑕᐃᒪᓐᓇ ᐱᕐᔪᐊᖏᓐᓇᐅᔭᖅᐳᒍᑦ.” ᐅᖃᓪᓚᖃᑦᑕᖏᒃᑲᓗᐊᖅᖢᑎᒃ, ᑭᓯᐊᓂᓕ ᑭᒃᑯᑐᐃᓐᓇᕐᓄᑦ ᐃᒃᐱᒍᓱᓚᐅᖅᓯᒪᔪᓄᑦ ᐊᓄᕆᒥᒃ ᐅᓗᐊᖏᑦᑎᒍᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓴᖏᓂᖓᓂᒃ ᖃᐅᔨᓪᓗᑎᒃ. ᓄᓇᒦᒃᑲᓗᐊᖅᖢᑎᒃ ᐅᕝᕙᓘᓐᓃᑦ ᐅᖓᓯᒋᔮᓂᒃᑲᓗᐊᖅᖢᑎᒃ, ᑕᒪᓐᓇ ᓄᓇ ᐊᖏᑎᒋᓂᖓᓂᒃ ᐅᐱᒍᓱᓲᖑᕗᑦ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑕᐃᒪ ᑎᒍᓕᒐᐅᑉ ᑕᒪᓐᓇ ᓄᓇ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᕆᑦᑎᐊᓚᐅᖅᑕᖓ. ᐅᖃᐅᓯᕆᔭᖓ ᐊᔾᔨᓯᔾᔪᑎᒋᓚᐅᖅᐸᕋ ᐊᒥᐊᓕᑲᒥᐅᑕᒧᑦ ᕗᐊᓚᔅ ᔅᑏᕕᓐᔅᒧᑦ. ᐅᖃᓯᖃᕐᓂᖅ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᓂᖃᑦᑎᐊᕐᓂᕐᒥᒃ ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᓕᒫᒥᑦ ᑕᒪᑦᑕᑦᑎᐊᖅ ᐅᕙᑦᑎᓐᓄᓕᒫᖅ ᐊᔪᕐᓇᖅᑐᖅᓯᐅᕐᓇᖅᖢᓂᓗ ᑐᑭᓯᓇᓱᒋᐊᒃᓴᖅ. 

ᑕᐅᑐᒃᖢᒍ ᐱᐊᕆ ᐊᐅᐱᓛᕐᔪᑉ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓕᐅ ᓇᐸᔫᑉ ᖃᑐᔾᔨᖃᑎᒌᒃᖢᑎᒃ ᑐᓴᖅᑎᑦᑎᔾᔪᑎᖏᑦ ᑐᖁᓚᐅᖅᖢᓂ ᐃᓅᓂᕐᒥᒃ (2014), ᐊᔪᕐᓇᖏᑦᑐᑯᓘᕗᖅ ᑕᑯᓪᓗᓂ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᓂᖓ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᓂᒃ ᖃᓄᖅ ᑲᑎᓯᒪᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ. ᑕᕝᕙᓂ ᑮᓇᖑᐊᕐᒥᑦ ᖁᒻᒧᑦ ᕿᕕᐊᖓᖑᐊᖅᖢᓂ ᑐᑭᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᑦᑎᐊᕐᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐊᔪᖏᑦᑐᒻᒪᕆᐊᓗᖕᒥᒃ ᑖᔅᓱᒪ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᑉ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᕆᔭᖓᓂᒃ; ᑕᑯᓪᓗᓂ ᐃᓅᓯᑦᑎᓐᓂᒃ ᑐᓐᓂᖁᓯᐊᑦᑎᓐᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐅᐱᒋᒻᒪᕆᒃᖢᒍ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑐᑭᓯᓇᓱᒃᖢᒍ ᑕᒪᑐᒥᖓ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᑦᑎᐊᕐᓂᕐᒥᒃ. ᐊᒥᓱᑦ ᑮᓇᐃᑦ ᑎᒥᒦᑦᑐᑦ ᐊᒥᓱᐊᓗᖕᓄᑦ ᐃᓄᖕᓄᑦ ᐃᒃᐱᒋᔭᐅᖃᑦᑕᕐᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ, ᑭᓯᐊᓂᓕ ᑖᓐᓇ ᐃᓄᖑᐊᖅ ᒥ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᓂᒻᒪᕆᐊᓗᖕᒥᒃ.

A black stone sculpture of an elk with its head and neck arched backwards, with white antlers
Osuitok Ipeelee Caribou (c. 1976) Stone and antler 52.7 x 45.7 x 24.1 cm REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION DORSET FINE ARTS COURTESY WADDINGTON’S AUCTIONEERS AND APPRAISERS, TORONTO © OSUITOK IPEELEE ᐅᓱᐃᑦᑐᖅ ᐊᐃᐱᓕ ᑐᒃᑐᑦ (1976) ᐅᒃᑯᓯᒃᓴᖅ ᐊᒻᒪ ᓴᒡᔪᒃ 52.7 x 45.7 x 24.1 ᓴᓐᑕᒦᑕᓴᓇᔭᐅᒃᑲᓐᓂᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᐱᕆᓚᐅᖅᖢᑎᒃ ᑐᐊᓯᑦ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᒐᖃᕐᕕᐊᓂᒃ ᑐᓂᔭᐅᔪᖅ WADDINGTON’S AUCTIONEERS AND APPRAISERS, ᑐᕌᓐᑐ © ᐅᓱᐃᑦᑐᖅ ᐊᐃᐱᓕ

ᐱᓯᖓ ᑎᒎᓪᓕᒐᐅᑉ
Untitled II
Attributed to Tegoodligak

ᐃᕝᕕᑦ, ᐃᕝᕕᑦ, ᑐᒃᑑ
ᐄ, ᐃᕝᕕᑦ
ᐄ, ᐃᕝᕕᑦ
ᐃᕝᕕᑦ ᕿᓕᖅᑎᓕᒃ—
ᐅᖓᓯᒃᑐᒥᒃ ᑯᒪᐅᔮᖅᐳᑎᑦ:
ᑲᖑᖅᑎᑐᑦ, ᐅᕙᓐᓄᒃ ᖃᐃᒋᑦ, ᓇᔾᔪᑎᑦ ᓄᓗᕋᕐᓗᑎᒃ
ᑐᒥᑎᑦ ᒪᐅᖓ ᓄᓇᒧᑦ ᑐᓪᓕᑦ—
ᒪᓐᓇ ᓄᓇ ᓇᔪᖅᑕᕋ
ᓂᕿᒃᓴᖃᑦᑎᐊᖅᐳᖅ ᐱᔪᒪᔭᕐᓂᒃ
ᑕᑯᒋᑦ ᑎᒍᒥᐊᖅᐳᖓ
ᓂᕿᕐᓂᒃ ᒪᒪᕆᔭᕐᓂᒃ—
ᒪᒪᖅᑐᖅ, ᓂᐊᒻ, ᓂᐊᒻ, ᓂᐊᒻ—
ᖃᐃᒋᑦ, ᑐᒃᑑ, ᖃᐃᒋᑦ
ᑲᐃᒋᑦ ᑲᓈᑯᑖᑦ ᑐᐊᕕᐊᓪᓚᒡᓕᑦ
ᑲᓈᑯᑖᑦ ᑐᑦᑕᕐᓗᑎᒃ
ᐅᕙᓐᓄᓪᓗ ᑐᓂᓚᐅᕆᑦ
ᐃᕝᕕᑦ, ᐃᕝᕕᑦ, ᑐᒃᑐ

Easily the most playful of the selected poems, this one is a song that invites caribou to come join the hunter on the land he inhabits. Boasting of the richness of the tundra and the plentiful moss and lichen for the caribou to eat, he sings of how delicious it is and the reader is left to wonder if he speaks of the flora he uses to lure or the fauna he is luring. 

When I think of caribou art, Osuitok Ipeelee, RCA (1923–2005), is my favourite creator that comes to mind. There are few stone caribou as elegant as his and this sculpture in particular is shaped as though Ipeelee’s inspiration came directly from the words in the poem. The caribou—long, lithe and swan-like—embodies every word of Tegoodligak’s description and he dances as though entranced by the words sung to him.

ᑕᐃᒪᓕ ᓂᕈᐊᖅᑕᐅᓯᒪᔪᒥᒃ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᕐᒥᑦ, ᑖᓐᓇ ᐃᖏᖅᑕᐅᔪᖅ ᖃᐃᖁᔨᕗᖅ ᑐᒃᑐᓂᒃ ᐊᖑᓇᓱᒃᑎᒧᑦ. ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᐱᐅᓱᒋᔾᔪᑎᒋᓪᓗᓂᒋᑦ ᓄᓇᒥᐅᑕᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐱᑕᖃᑦᑎᐊᕐᓂᖏᑦ ᓂᕿᒃᓴᐃᑦ ᓄᓇᐃᑦ ᑯᑭᓕᕋᓛᓪᓗ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᓄᖓ ᑐᒃᑐᓄᑦ ᓂᕆᔭᐅᕙᒃᑐᑦ, ᐃᖏᖅᖢᓂᓗ ᖃᓄᖅ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᒪᒪᕐᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐅᖃᓕᒫᖅᑐᖅ ᐃᓱᒪᒃᓴᖅᓯᐅᖅᖢᓂ ᖃᓄᖅ ᐅᖃᕈᓂ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᓂᖓ ᐱᕈᖅᑐᓄᑦ ᖃᐃᖁᔨᓇᔭᕐᒪᖔᑦ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᓂᖓ ᓂᕐᔪᑎᓂᒃ. 

ᑕᐃᒪᓕ ᑐᒃᑐᖑᐊᓂᒃ ᓴᓇᔭᐅᓯᒪᔪᓂᒃ ᐃᓱᒪᓕᕋᖓᒪ, ᐅᓱᐃᑦᑐᖅ ᐊᐃᐱᓕᒃ (1923–2005), ᑖᓐᓇ ᐱᐅᒋᓂᖅᐹᕆᒐᒃᑯ ᑐᒃᑐᖑᐊᓂ ᓴᓇᓲᖑᓚᐅᖅᓯᒪᖕᒪᑦ. ᐅᒥᓲᖏᑦᑐᓂᒃ ᐅᒃᑯᓯᒃᓴᓕᖕᓂᒃ ᓴᓇᔭᐅᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᑐᒃᑐᖑᐊᑦ ᐱᐅᔪᐊᓘᒐᓗᐊᖅᑎᓪᓗᒋᑦ ᑭᓯᐊᓂᓕ ᑖᔅᓱᒪ ᓴᓇᔭᖏᑦ ᓴᓇᓯᒪᖕᒪᑕ ᐊᐃᐱᓕᐅᑉ ᐃᓱᒪᒋᔭᖏᑦ ᓲᕐᓗ ᐃᖏᐅᓯᕐᒥᒃ ᐱᔭᐅᓯᒪᖕᒪᑕ. ᑐᒃᑐᐃᑦ—ᑕᑭᔪᔪᑦ, ᐊᐅᓚᓂᖃᑦᑎᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓲᕐᓗ ᖁᒃᔫᓪᓗᑎᒃ—ᑕᐃᒪᓐᓇ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖃᑦᑎᐊᖅᑐᖅ ᑖᓱᒧᖓ ᑎᒍᑦᓕᕋᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᒧᒥᖂᔨᓪᓗᓂ ᐃᖏᐅᓯᐊᓄᑦ.

A black stone sculpture of a bird to fish transformation.
Ningeosiak Ashoona Transformation (n.d) Stone 20.9 x 7.6 x 19.1 cmREPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION DORSET FINE ARTS COURTESY COASTAL PEOPLES GALLERY © NINGEOSIAK ASHOONA ᓂᖏᐅᑦᓯᐊᖅ ᐊᓲᓇ ᐊᓯᔾᔩᓂᖅ (n.d.) ᐅᒃᑯᓯᒃᓴᖅ 20.9 x 7.6 x 19.1 ᓴᓐᑕᒦᑕᓴᓇᔭᐅᒃᑲᓐᓂᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᐱᕆᓚᐅᖅᖢᑎᒃ ᑐᐊᓯᑦ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᒐᖃᕐᕕᐊᓂᑦ ᑐᓂᔭᐅᔪᖅ COASTAL PEOPLES ᓴᓇᖑᐊᒐᖃᕐᕕᐊᓂᑦ © ᓂᖏᐅᑦᓯᐊᖅ ᐊᓲᓇ

ᐱᓯᖓ ᐅᕙᕝᓄᒃ
Untitled III
by Uvavnuk

ᐳᒃᑕᔪᑐᑦ ᑰᒃᑯᑦ

ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᖅ ᐊᓄᕆᕐᔪᐊᕐᓗ
ᑎᒃᑕᐅᓚᖓ ᐅᖓᓯᒃᑐᒧᑦ
ᐃᓗᓐᓂᓪᓗ ᖁᕕᐊᓪᓚᖓ

Uvavnuk speaks of all the natural things greater than herself in this untitled piece. It takes only a few words to express the grandiosity of the earth and water that fill her to the core with joy. Movement is central in this poem, and water and wind move the speaker gently and smoothly through the world.

In Ning Ashoona’s Transformation, the dark stone depicts a woman who is simultaneously, bird, fish and human. She is of the land, sea and air in one body. This sculpture was also chosen because of the woman kneeling in a kind of reverential position, giving thanks to the land that sustains her. Each creature within her emanates the joy that nature brings to her.  

ᐅᕙᕝᓄᒃ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖃᖅᑐᖅ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᓂᖓ ᓄᓇᒥᐅᑕᕐᓂᒃ ᐃᒻᒥᓂᒃ ᐊᖏᓂᖅᓴᐅᑎᖦᖢᓂᒋᑦ ᑕᕝᕙᓂ ᑎᑎᕋᒻᑕᐅᓯᒪᔪᒥᑦ. ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖃᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᒥᓱᐃᖏᒃᑲᓗᐊᖅᖢᓂ ᖃᓄᖅ ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᓄᓇ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᒪᖅ ᐃᒻᒥᓐᓄᑦ ᐱᐅᒻᒪᕆᖕᓂᖏᓐᓂᒃ. ᑕᕝᕙᓂ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᐊᕐᒥᑦ ᐊᐅᓚᓂᖅ ᐅᖃᐅᓯᐅᓯᒪᕗᖅ ᐱᐅᒻᒪᕆᖕᓂᖓᓂᒃ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᒪᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᓄᕆ ᐊᐅᓚᑎᑦᑎᕗᖅ ᐅᓂᒃᑳᖅᑐᒥᒃ. 

ᓂᖏᐅᑦᓯᐊᖅ ᐊᓲᓇ ᐅᑉ ᐅᓂᒃᑲ ᐅᓯᕆᔭᖓᓂᒃ (n.d.), ᑕᒪᒃᑯᐊ ᐅᒃᑯᓯᒃᓴᐃᑦ ᓇᓗᓇᐃᖅᓯᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᐊᕐᓇᖅ ᑎᖕᒥᐊᖑᔪᖅ, ᐃᖃᓘᓐᓗᓂᓗ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓅᓪᓗᓂ. ᓄᓇᒥᐅᑕᐅᔪᖅ, ᑕᕆᐅᕐᒥᐅᑕᐅᓪᓗᓂᓗ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓯᓚᒥᐅᑕᐅᓪᓗᓂ. ᑖᓐᓇ ᓴᓇᖑᐊᖅᓯᒪᔪᖅ ᓂᕈᐊᖅᑕᐅᓚᐅᕆᕗᖅ ᓲᖃᐃᒻᒪ ᑖᓐᓇ ᐊᕐᓇᖅ ᓰᖅᑯᒥᐊᖅᑐᖅ, ᖁᔭᓕᓪᓗᓂᓗ ᓄᓇᒥᑦ, ᐃᑲᔪᖃᑦᑕᕐᒪᒍ ᐃᓅᑎᑦᑎᓂᖓᓂᒃ. ᐊᑐᓂ ᐆᒪᔪᑦ ᐃᒻᒥᓂᖔᕐᒪᑕ ᖁᕕᐊᓲᑎᒋᓪᓗᓂᒋᓪᓗ.


Translation by Elizabeth Qulaut. Poems translated by Jaypeetee Arnakak. Translations edited by Monica Ittusardjuat. 

Author Biography

Napatsi Folder is an Inuk comic artist and writer from Iqaluit, NU, Napatsi Folger resides in Vancouver, BC, where she recently completed an MFA at the University of British Columbia. Her work has appeared in The Walrus, The Puritan Literary Magazine, Matrix Magazine, and Taddle Creek, among others, and her first book, Joy of Apex, was published by Inhabit Media in 2011. She is currently an Associate Editor at the Inuit Art Quarterly.


This series was published by the Inuit Art Quarterly throughout April 2021. Copyright the Inuit Art Foundation.

Original Published Links

Apr 9: 6+ Inuit Seasons in 1 Poem and 1 Sculpture

Apr 16: Inuit Poetry and Ceramics that Contemplate Life and Nature

Apr 23: Hunting Caribou Through Inuktitut Poetry and Sculpture

Apr 30: Linking the Land, Sea and Air in Inuit Sculpture and Poetry