John Tyman's
Cultures in Context Series

Interviewer: John Tyman ~ Interpreter: Anaoyok

1. Date and Quality of Recordings.
All were recorded in December 1988 inside buildings where the sound quality is reduced somewhat by the noise of the blowers of the forced-air furnaces used to heat buildings in winter.

2. Glossary of Terms Used and Places Referred To. 

  • The ‘Bay : Abbreviated term for Hudson’s Bay Company. 
  • Country Foods : Those obtained by hunting (meat and fish etc.)
  • Fort Ross : Original fur trading post in this area. At southern end of Somerset Island opposite head of Boothia Peninsula, 300 kms (in a straight line) north of Spence Bay.
  • Honda : Brand-name of one form of all-terrain vehicle, now used to refer to all such three and four-wheelers.
  • Inuit : People (name used by those once known as “Eskimos” to identify themselves)
  • Inuk : Person
  • Inukshuk : Man-made pile of rocks serving as reference point in overland navigation and/or (when in lines) to direct caribou into a trap (since the piles, from a distance, looked a bit like men).
  • Inuktitut : The language of the Inuit
  • Iqaluit : Town on Baffin Island, formerly known as Frobisher bay, made capital of the Nunavut Territory when this was established in 1999.
  • Kabloona : White Man or European
  • Kamik : A boot.
  • Kamik’s bottom : The sole of such a boot.
  • Kicker : Outboard motor.
  • Rankin Inlet : Town on the north-western side of Hudson’s Bay: and home of the interviewee Nowyah.
  • Seal Blubber : Used in soapstone lamps for heating and cooking in the old days; also as foodstuff.
  • Skidoo : Brand name of one form of motorised toboggan, now used as a general term for all such snowmobiles.
  • Thom Bay : Early settlement (and site of seasonal hunting camps) 80 kms  northeast of Spence Bay.
3. Identities of Persons Interviewed:
Traditionally Inuit parents gave their children just one name. This was often descriptive and was assigned not at birth but later when the child’s personality was revealed. In recent times both federal and territorial governments encouraged the adoption of surnames so they could keep track of family groupings. As a result some men adopted Christian names and used their original name to indicate their family. Others kept their original names and invented a surname -- “Inuk” for example.

Alookee (alias Steve Alookee) is a well-known hunter but has a range of interests – as church organist and preacher, stone carver, and town councillor. He does not speak English, so his wife served as interpreter when he was interviewed. 

Mannilaq (alias John Mannilaq) hunted with dogs when he was young but has a bad back and now hunts only part-time. He has a job in town at the radio station and also helps with community events like the feast and festival at Christmas.

Aiyout (alias Aiyout Inuk) having been involved in the fur trade in the old days, and travelling great distances, is well able to compare dogs with skidoos. He lost an arm in an accident but still hunts successfully. 

Anaoyok (alias Anaoyok Alookee) was an award-winning designer of clothing for both Inuit and Kabloona and managed a large workshop. Her energies were later focussed on a family of six – three of them children and three of them grandchildren but raised as her own. The sheepskins she now uses for mitts and kamiks come from the store.

Nowyah (alias Nowyah Williams) is a trained nurse but when interviewed was heavily involved in church-work, assisting her husband as a translator for some of his sermons, and also preaching and teaching herself.

Alex Buchan managed the Hudson’s Bay Company’s department store in Spence but had experience also of the fur trade era, witnessing significant changes in employment, transport and diet. 

Shirley Barnes managed the nursing station. In the absence of any doctor in Spence Bay she functioned a nurse practitioner – a role she had previously fulfilled in Papua New Guinea, Southeast Asia and West Africa,

Paul Williams was the Anglican priest in Spence Bay, the husband of Nowyah, and the father of two children. He was also responsible for the church in Gjoa Haven on King William Island 150 kms to the southwest.

George Sutherland was the official representative of the government of the Northwest Territories and administrator of government programmes.

Jacques Slik was principal of the school in Spence Bay, and with experience of a rage of indigenous school communities had reflected at length on the impact of schooling on traditional lifestyles.

1. Alookee : Changes Good and Bad ~ 09:09m
2. Alookee : Life on the Land in the Old days ~ 11:29m
3. Alookee : A Hunter's Thoughts on Killing Animals ~ 07:25m
4. Mannilaq : Speaks of his Childhood and his move to Spence Bay ~ 12:50m
5. Aiyout : Memories of a Life on the Land ~ 09:55m
6. Anaoyok : Clothes Made and Clothes Bought ~ 03:45m
7. Anaoyok : Land and Life and the Impact of Greenpeace ~ 05:33m
8. Anaoyok : Old Days and New Ways ~ 03:22m
9. Anaoyok : Values, Needs and Wants ~ 03:52m
10. Anaoyok : Schooling and the Future ~ 2:53m
11. Nowyah : Disciplining Children and Caring for Old People ~ 07:10m
12. Nowyah : The Importance of Family and the Role of Custom Adoption ~ 08:26m
13. Nowyah : Traditional Learning and Government Schooling ~ 13:24m
14. Nowyah : Traditional and Modern Views of Land and Life ~ 06:16m
15. Alex Buchan :The Fur Trade and the Origins of Spence Bay ~ 04:23m
16. Alex Buchan : The Changing Fortunes and Functions of the Hudson's Bay Company ~ 10:29m
17. Alex Buchan : ATVs, Snowmobiles and Environmental Issues ~ 06:20m
18. Alex Buchan : Store-bought Foods and their Nutritional Impact ~ 08:53m
19. Alex Buchan : Clothing, White Goods, Canoes and Transport Costs ~ 04:09m
20. Alex Buchan : The Economics of Survival (in December 1988) ~ 08:11m
21. Shirley Barnes : Medical Services and Health Problems ~ 08:32m
22. Shirley Barnes : Permissiveness and Teenage Pregnancies ~ 04:21m
23. Paul Williams : Animism and Christianity ~ 10:55m
24. Paul Williams : The Priest, the Church and his People ~ 12:02m
25. George Sutherland : Hunting and Welfare Dependency ~ 06:47
26. George Sutherland : Housing Arrangements Today ~ 03:17m
27. George Sutherland : The Provision of Basic Services ~ 01:56m
28. Jacques Slik : Behaviour and Learning Styles - Ancient and Modern ~ 05:31m
29. Jacques Slik : Does Schooling Help Children Function as Whites or as Inuit? ~ 03:50m
30. Jacques Slik : Age Structure of School's Student Body ~ 04:59m
31. Jacques Slik : Paternalism and Responsibility ~ 02:28m
32. Jacques Slik : Cultural Inclusion, the Education Council and Language Difficulties ~ 03:26m
33. Jacques Slik : Examples of Student Enterprise  ~ 03:32m
34. Jacques Slik : Concepts of Time, Punctuality and Permissiveness ~ 06:38m

Enter the FX Sound Studio HERE


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Text, photos and recordings by John Tyman
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Copyright Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University, 2010.
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William Hillman |
Assistant Professor ~ Faculty of Education ~ Brandon University ~ Brandon, Manitoba ~ Canada