Model Qamutiit – Part 2
I have to say that I had no idea I would have so much to say on the topic of qamutiit especially due to the fact that I thought I was pretty ignorant on the subject.
I have never built one. I have never rode one. I have only seen a handful of them. The photos that accompanied these two videos were shot by myself on slide film over twenty years ago now. I wish I had shot a few more.
Much of the info I have given in these videos was gleaned from reading.
Getting into boats at one point got me into reading about arctic exploration. Probably the Shackleton expedition story did it. Or Maybe Tim Severn’s Brendon Voyage.
The historical first and second hand accounts of arctic survival is always from the point of view of a non-indigenous person. There are some very good ones that describe life among the arctic peoples with some reasonable accuracy, but there is always often a bit of European superiority at play even at the best of times. Some at least respected the culture and relied on the survival skills of the people they met. Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Knud Rasmussen and John Rae are good examples. They all attributed their success in arctic exploration to skills they learned from the Inuit.
Because the Inuit culture has an oral history, we do not have much of it written down or captured on film. Happily that is starting to change as the fragility of that history is becoming realized and people within the Inuit culture are starting to commit their history to paper and film.
The best first hand indigenous perspective reading I have found is called “Uqalurait” An Oral History of Nunavut, compiled and edited by John Bennett and Susan Rowley. The stories found within are directly from a number of elders that I associated with.
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner was the first Inuit made feature length film. Based on an Inuit legend it was written and directed and produced by Inuit filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk. Well worth watching. Don’t stop there. More Inuit culture based films are out there for you to explore.
I’ve got a long list of favourite reads related to the arctic but throwing a boat into the mix, it would be “The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk” . Think Shackleton expedition…but gone bad. There is a follow up story of the one Inupiat woman on board called “Ada Blackjack”. Both involve very questionable leadership hijinks by Vilhjalmur Stefansson and a very misguided attempt at colonizing Wrangle Island in the Bearing Straight.