Inuit naming

Inuit naming is a very important aspect of Inuit culture. Inuit sometimes chose a name for their newborn babies, sometimes prior to birth. Inuit name their children after body parts, such as Kanaaq – shin (I think) or lower part of the leg, putuguq - big toe, sometimes after animals, Kumaruaq (caribou in shaman's language), Taqtu – kidney (my middle name), or after what is in the sky – Siqiniq (sun) - Hiqiniq in the Nattilingmiut dialect, Taqqiq - moon, Ubluriaq (Aivilingmiut dialect) Ulluriaq (Uqqurmiut dialect), Nanurjuk - the star Betelguese in the Orion constellation, or after animals, Qinalugaq (Beluga whale), Nattiq/Natsiq (seal), Ugjuk (bearded seal), or after spiritual names, Nuliajuk (a woman with a fin, boss of all seals under the sea), Nanurluk - mythical super-size polar bear, Ijiraq (caribou-like spirit), Jack Anawak"s original name is Ijiraq, prior to Surname Project of the N.W.T. Government in 1970, Tuutalik, or we name our children, after our parents or grandparents or someone who we respect, doesn't necessarily have to be a relative.

For example, my little grandson Katak (enterance way to a dwelling iglu or sod house or tent) Adam Irniq (son). Inuit normally do not call their grandchildren by name. We refer to them as "irnngutaq" "grandchild" "inngunatq" in Nattilingmiut dialect.  The purpose of naming our children after people, such as our parents, or other relatives, is to make sure that person lives on in life, even after the one who is named after, has died. For example, my brother Isaia in Kangir&iniq (Rankin Inlet) is named after my grandfather Ivaluqut Ipuittuq from Utkuhikhalik (Back River). When I took him up to Uqhuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven) in 1992, my three aunts, and two uncles, called him their "ataataga" "my father", Ivaluqut Ipuittuq was their father, my grandfather. Some of their more traditional children, called him "Ataatattiara" "My grandfather". Ataatattiaq, means, "beautiful father" and Anaanattiaq means, "beautiful mother". In English, they are, Grandfather and Grandmother.

When Adam was born, we named him Katak, after my mother. I call him, "anaanagannua&&uk" in my Nattilik dialect.  It translates to "My dear little mother". Each time, I see him, I say to him, "anaanagannua&&uk" and he looks at me immediately.  And I am going to call him that, as long as I live. That is how, Inuit culture is. In my Aivilingmiut dialect, I would have called him Anaanakuluga. Kuluk and nua&&uk mean the same thing, just a different dialect, meaning, "dear cute little...." So, looking at naming of people from Nattilingmiut: Hiutinnuaq (cute little ear - hiuti, siuti in my Aivilik or Kivalliq or Baffin dialect means ear), Urhunnuaq(cute little piece of small oil fat from seal), Niaqunnuaq (cute little beautiful head) - Niaquq -head, Itinnuaq (Cute little ass hole), Qajuutinnuaq - cute little beautiful "drinking bowl/broth bowl) usually made out of muskox horn, the widest part on it's forehead.

In Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay) there is or was a man named, Uujukuluk (cute little beautiful boiled meat/fish), this part uses that part of the dialect from a different Inuit region. And there are quite a few Inuit, whose names end with "Kuluk" You can also describe little children as Kuluit (for many).  Nutarakuluk - cute little beautiful child, qimmiarjukuluk - cute little puppy, etc. There is a man named Nutarakuluk in Kangir&iniq.

Well, that is a small part of Inuit naming history.  Enjoy learning!



01 December 2008


More from this channel: Peter Irniq