Inuit Piqutingit (What Belongs to Inuit)


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A group of Nunavut elders travel to five museums in North America to see and identify artifacts, tools and clothing collected from their Inuit ancestors. Directed by Zacharias Kunuk and Bernadette Dean.

Filmmaker: Zacharias Kunuk, Bernadette Dean

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A group of Nunavut elders travel to five museums in North America to see and identify artifacts, tools and clothing collected from their Inuit ancestors. Directed by Zacharias Kunuk and Bernadette Dean.

Filmmaker: Zacharias Kunuk, Bernadette Dean

Filmmaker Contact: zkunuk [at] isuma [dot] ca; saniruaq [at] qiniq [dot] com;

Producer's Name: Bernadette Dean, Katarina Soukup, Zacharias Kunuk, Igloolik Isuma Productions in collaboration with Kivalliq Inuit Association

Year of Production: 2009

Distributor Information: Vtape

Country: Canada

Region: Nunavut

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Norman Cohn's picture

and just a few more....

Franci Taylor: If you count all the hours we spent in this room together, I come up with twenty-eight hours. It has been a powerful experience for me. It was very difficult for me to think of coming into a meeting like this. Sitting here and looking at these esteemed people that I respect so much. I still feel pretty much like the baby of the group in many ways. Like all of us, Bernadette’s movie, what I got out of this when I see these objects in the museum. I cannot touch them without feeling that it is a chord to my heritage. I see people in those objects. And this is part of why I say they are living. I see those people that strove and lived and died, for me in every stitch in those objects. We haven't commented here on Indian humour, which is so inherent to everything there. Nothing is made in silence. It is made with joy and with expression of that joy and laughing. What was the most what I got out of, I was up to say: Some really nice places to eat, besides the University Cafeteria. But I didn't know if the Indian Humour would go over. Some of the things I made notes of reminded me. It's a sense of hope. I do come out with a sense of hopefulness.
I have been reminded of the sacredness and the power of words. It was amazing to see a whole documentary in an indigenous language. A majority of my family, my group in Montana, we have a 97 percent lost language. And so the only thing left to us is English. We are starting to get back our languages, but we don't have it. If you go and ask the elders what something is, the most common response is: "We no longer have a word for that.” And that makes me sad. Second, I have been amazed to understand how incredibly difficult it is to step outside our own point of view, and look at it from another point of view. It's like the old saying: Don't judge somebody, until you have walked a mile in their moccasins. And every time you point at somebody, you need to remember that there are three fingers pointing back at you. It is very easy to look with a critical eye at the past and say: "Look what they did, we didn't do that." We weren't in that time. I was reminded of the things I was told I should live by. These are just concepts to live by: love, respect (Thank you for talking about respect, Jane) cooperation, generosity, humility, reciprocity, sharing.

Aviâja Rosing Jakobsen: First of all I want to thank you, because I forgot to say that in the morning. Many things are already said by the other participants. I would also like to say Thank you to Bernadette. You took the elders to see the objects so close, which they thought were gone. And also, Thank you, Franci, for telling us that you were brought up to these storytellers. This is also a way to continue our cultural heritage. And also, Samoe and Basja: Good luck to you and your project. It is a good way, not to start from the upper level but with the local communities. And also thank you, Cunera, for involving us into this photograph project.

Norman Cohn's picture

On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 2:32 PM, Bernadette Dean <dean [dot] bernadette [at] gmail [dot] com> wrote:

In late 2007 I went to Holland where all kinds of universities and museums from Europe were there to take part in a workshop called "Sharing Traditional Knowledge" and I also brought 2 copies of Inuit Piqutingit; I did a presentation called kamik making from A-Z that is qisiliri to ilujji (last step in kamik making), and I showed the IP What Belongs to Inuit to the group...many were touched by it...thanks to you so I am sharing these good comments with you because you did more than I did. :) and I will send another one with more comments, I received these emails yesterday. Bernie

Dear Bernie,
I am helping Laura and Cunera with editing the Leiden conference notes, and I just had to tell you how often people are commenting on your film and how impressed they are by the project!

Thinking of you! Hope you are well!


Laura van Broekhoven: In this closing session, I would like all of us to mention what we found the most impressive moment or example of the last couple of days. I will start by saying that to me the most impressive moment was when Bernadette [Dean] gave the video of this incredible documentary to Basja Marius. Apart from the moment when we visited s' Gravenzande, together with Basja Marius and Samoe; and everything that has come out of this meeting for our museum and for me personally. I think also for Basja, things have been established here which will keep going on for a long time; with Samoe, too. Also, the moment when Clifford talked about his museum was inspiring for me -- to see that these projects are making it possible for representatives of First Nations from across the American continents to really meet each other and share experiences. I think that we could agree that it was very, very special. Thank you to Clifford and Bernadette for these incredible projects. And I hope the Wayana will be able to continue counting on your support for their project also. For us, this was an important first step to orient ourselves in how to develop these kind of sharing trajectories

Jane Sledge: What also struck me in Bernadette’s film was that she was the producer of the film. When I first came to the NMAI, we were in the middle of having almost forty communities coming to visit us over two or three years, and I said to my colleagues: "Are you going to document the meetings?" And they said: "Oh no, no, Jane, we don't make relationships like putting a microphone in front of somebody. We have to make relationships before we film people." We didn't record these initial meetings; and so there is nothing recorded, except notes taken for the most part; or specific interviews with people. That's why Bernadette’s film was so wonderful -- that she made it herself with her elders and did her own view of the meeting. It was just a fabulous experience. And I wanted to thank you very much for sharing how your elders saw the collections through your elder's eyes. That was very, very moving.

Sigvald Persen: I have not participated all the time, but what I noticed today is that my fellow Inuit from Nunavut and Greenland, and I saw the elders from Nunavut visiting different museums and seeing how ancestors have done things. I have heard that you are going to make a museum in Iqaluit or something like that. There is struggle for building a museum in Nunavut? I've heard some few years ago. But, if it is necessary, we can advise, we can co-operate on things such as the issue of our expertise on repatriation between different countries. It struck me that your elders saw things which they never knew existed


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Instructional resource

This site uses the Euphemia font to display Inuktitut syllabics. You can download it for free here.
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