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Bill Hillman's 
EduTech Research Project
Presents
John Tyman's
INUIT ~ People of the Arctic
Unit II: FOOD SOURCES 
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Part 2: Fishing
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21. In the early summer, before the ice melts on lakes and rivers, 
fresh-water fishing provides another major source  of food.
22. Among the Nelsilik this activity is 
focused mainly on Arctic Char.

23. Char are related to salmon, with similar red flesh, 
but have a reversed migratory pattern. 
They winter upstream, descend in spring to the sea for spawning,
and return in the autumn.
24. Until recently holes were cut through the ice 
using a long chisel, in a time-consuming  process. 

 


25. The spoon was used to remove pieces of ice 
as they were chipped away. 
It could take an hour or more to reach the water, 
depending on the thickness of the ice.
26. Now post-hole augurs do the same thing in five minutes...
 

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27. While the operator listens to his iPod!
28. Nets can be strung between pairs of holes then.

29. And large numbers of fish can sometimes be caught in this way, 
as they congregate beneath the ice 
in readiness for their spring migration downstream.
30. Many more people, though, are involved in fishing with lines.
The fish have little interest in feeding then 
but they are drawn to the hole by the agitation of lures. 
The fishermen wait and watch (carefully!) and  

31. When a fish appears below them they strike downwards
(allowing for refraction!) 
with a fishing spear (or kokiwog) which grasps hold of the fish. 
The kokiwog has flexible arms made from
the horns of a musk ox so the fish, 
once speared and retrieved, can easily be released.
32. Nowadays the use of fishing spears is less necessary 
as colourful lures with barbed hooks attached 
can be purchased cheaply from the store.




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33. A stick with a hook and line attached 
is simply jigged up and down.
34. If the fish snaps at the lure
the line is quickly pulled out of  the water.

35. As is usual in traditional societies, 
children learn by observation and participation.
36. Teenagers today can listen to pop music 
while they fish.

37. With a fish surplus in the spring many are prepared for use in winter.
38. They are cleaned and filleted and hung up to dry.

39. They are turned from time to time and, 
with 24-hour sunlight and persistent winds,
will dry in about two weeks. 
After that they will be stored in a food cache till required
often under  a pile of rocks as a defense against animals.
40. In late summer, when the ice has melted and people fish from boats, 
nets are used both on rivers and lakes and at sea.
 

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41. Ancient fish traps also dot the Arctic, for use mainly 
during the return migration upstream in the autumn.
42. The main wall of the weir, open here, 
is raised to block the path of the fish.

43. These are diverted through funnel entrances into traps 
at the side where there can be harvested with spears.
44. In winter fishing is less common, 
but still useful.

45. Holes are cut through the ice with a long chisel.
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46. Nets are strung between pairs of holes
and checked for fish every few days.

BACK TO INUIT
Dr. John Tyman
CONTENTS PAGE:
PHOTOS & RECORDINGS
I. Environment:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
II. Food Sources: 
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
III: Clothing/Shelter:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
IV. Family: 
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
V. Community:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
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Text, photos and recordings by John Tyman
Intended for Educational Use Only.
Copyright Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University, 2010.
Contact Dr. John Tyman for more information regarding licensing.

Photo processing, Web page layout, and formatting by
William Hillman | www.hillmanweb.com
Assistant Professor ~ Faculty of Education ~ Brandon University ~ Brandon, Manitoba ~ Canada