• Taking Back the Knife: The Ulu as an Expression of Inuit Women's Strength

      Gillam, Patricia Hansen (2009-12)
      The ulu is an enduring object in the lives of Inuit women which has multiple meanings as both a tool and symbol of traditional subsistence activity. While it continues to be recognized as a symbol of identity for Inuit women across the Arctic, it has received little attention by Western scientists and academics. Following the twists and turns of both de-colonizing and engendering the ulu encourages a comprehension of the profoundly symbolic meaning of the ulu with respect to Inuit women's identity. The collecting phase of the Smithsonian in Alaska and the classifying impulse of archaeological reports are examined for their underlying rules of practice, conventions of representation and dynamics of scientific authority. Then in reaction to this 'objectification' of the ulu, the knife is taken back in a multitude of actions and expressions which seek to reclaim the ulu and restore its significance as a cultural item
    • When Uŋalaqłiq danced: stories of strength, suppression & hope

      Qassataq, Ayyu; Stern, Charlene B.; Black, Jessica C.; John-Shields, Agatha (2020-05)
      In the late 1800’s, Uŋalaqłiq (Unalakleet), a predominantly Iñupiaq community along the Norton Sound in Western Alaska, was missionized by the Evangelical Covenant Church. Missionaries were integral in establishing a localized education system under the direction of General Agent of Education, Sheldon Jackson, in the early 1900’s. By 1915, the community was no longer engaging in ancestral practices such as deliberating, teaching and hosting ceremonies within the qargi. Nor were they uplifting shared history and relationships between villages or expressing gratitude for the bounty of the lands through traditional songs, dances, or celebrations such as the Kivgiq Messenger Feast. This research outlines events that occurred in Uŋalaqłiq around the turn of the 20th century and analyzes how those events influenced the formation of the education system and its ongoing impacts to Native peoples and communities today. The intent of this research is to help grow a shared understanding of how this history continues to shape our lived experience as modern day Native peoples and to lay a foundation to promote healing and strength through the potential revival of ancestral traditions that have kept us healthy and strong for thousands of years.