"Inulariuyunga; Imngirnik quvigiyaqaqtunga!" - I'm a real Inuk; I love to sing! : interactions between music, inummariit, and belief in an Inuit community since resettlement

Piercey-Lewis, Mary Elizabeth (2014) "Inulariuyunga; Imngirnik quvigiyaqaqtunga!" - I'm a real Inuk; I love to sing! : interactions between music, inummariit, and belief in an Inuit community since resettlement. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Arviat (previously Eskimo Point) is a small predominantly Inuit hamlet in Nunavut, which in 2006 had 2,060 residents. Like all other native communities in the Canadian north, Arviat has experienced, and is experiencing, tremendous change. The nomadic iglu-dwellers have become sedentary wage workers and/or sophisticated harvesters of Arctic char and other natural resources. In spite of cultural and social change, Inuit feel a strong continuity between their past and present. Many born and raised on the land now occupy key economic, political, managerial, and educational positions within an administrative apparatus that did not even exist fifty-five years ago. Many Inuit accept change as it comes, and make modifications in their lifestyle and cultural habits based on their strong sense of Inuit identity. This strong sense of Inuit identity is based on an Inuit concept called inummariit, which translates as “real Inuit.” Most Inuit live by a belief system based on living like a “true Inuk.” How Inuit conceptualize living the “Inuit way” or inummariit is diverse and complex. Furthermore, inummariit identity is constantly changing. This can be seen in how Inuit have negotiated outside influences such as Christianity, fox trapping, media, technology, and syllabic reading and writing into the same body of Inuit traditional knowledge as hunting caribou, oral tradition, and survival on the land. This dissertation investigates the ways in which music, inummariit, and belief interact in the Inuit community of Arviat. It examines how Inuit belief systems have changed and developed in response to resettlement and colonialism using music as a portal to understand personal negotiations and transitions. To accomplish this goal, the musical stories of three generations of three musically oriented Inuit families are examined: the Illungiayoks, the Okatsiaks, and the Mamgarks. Using Bourdieu’s (1977) theory of generations and in particular his notion of habitus, I analyze stability and change in the music performed by Inuit in Arviat, revealing the many ways in which inummariit is conceptualized by generations. An examination of the distinctive generational cohorts which have shaped Arviat’s history, politics, and culture provides an understanding of how twenty-first century Inuit think about music and contemporary Inuit life. The Illungiayoks are a family of tradition-bearers who perform the traditional Inuit drum dance in contemporary contexts. This dissertation examines the connection between the performance of traditional Inuit drum dances and the concept of inummariit for three generations of male Inuit from the same family. I argue that the performance of the drum dance and its accompanying song parallel generational ideas about Inuit social organization and identity negotiation. The history of interaction between Inuit and their colonizers suggests that the current practice of drum dancing is one means employed by Inuit to preserve some of their traditions and to empower Inuit to attempt to assert local sovereignties, identities (whether sub-group specific or pan-Inuit), and expressions. The Okatsiaks are the music and song leaders at the Anglican Church in Arviat. This dissertation examines the ways music and inummariit are negotiated in the performance of religious rites. The performance of Kuukpaluk—the River at Easter is a Christian rite which connects Inuit with their past, both Anglican and Inuit. This dissertation shows that it is not only a tradition of the past, it is a dynamic event practiced today; an event that has evolved and changed over the decades. Issues of syncretism between Christianity and traditional Inuit ideology are discussed, revealing how contesting and accepting conceptualizations of inummariit are enacted simultaneously. The Mamgarks are adherents to the Catholic faith. The matriarch is the song leader at the Catholic Church in Arviat. The present study extrapolates understandings of inummariit from the religious practice of three generations of women from the Mamgark family. Through the examination of the enactment of the Mass, localized and local hymn texts,1 and the radically different generational attitudes toward music and Catholicism, generational conceptualizations of inummariit are revealed. This study focuses on the Inuit concept of identity—inummariit. Inummariit, the true Inuit way of knowing and being, is multifaceted and diverse. Individual and generational conceptualizations of what it means to be a “true Inuk” overlap in many ways while coexisting. These conceptualizations, as revealed through the performance of and narratives about music, nuance histories of encounter and resettlement, education and language loss, and cultural revitalization in the community. These conceptualizations insist that inummariit be understood as traditional and modern simultaneously.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/8222
Item ID: 8222
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 405-422).
Department(s): Music, School of
Date: May 2014
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Arviant (Nunavut)
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Inuit--Nunavut--Arviant--Music; Inuit--Nunavut--Arviant--Social life and customs; Arviant--Religious life and customs; Arviant--Ethnic relations

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