Thursday, January 13, 2011

Introducing the new Inuk

you know, you are not very special?
you have no special genes that
make you survive the cold!

your history like anywhere
in the world is connected to
some form of colonialism.

nothing very special about us
just because the ladies can make
an unusual sound with their damn throats
does not make us any different.

because some of us can eat and make
fermented walrus meat or any meat
is not a hallmark of civilization

i think we over romanticize
ourselves: the heroic hunter
the hard working sewing mother

as if we are the lost true people
the pure and noble eskimo
saving the world from
environmental destruction

i read once in a book
by a respectable anthropologist
friends with inuit who are not
going to agree with this poem

where he said, inuit had lot's of free time
out of the hours in a week about 1 day was
spent hunting and the rest was leisure

so much for the hard working eskimo of the past?
but what they meant by being busy
when elders say so, is they occupied their
minds with anything and everything not just hard work

and they probably fucked a lot too
practising infanticide, preferring
boys over girls. it was not always
this picture we learn from school

and we should accept these realities about our past
and not be ashamed of them just because
the white world think its barbaric and crude

sure we have a lot of human incapabilities
i don't even want to call them issues
but we should accept these too and stop trying
to fix everything about our world

i like the little inadequacies such as drunks
on a saturday afternoon and the person
not afraid to smoke that weed on the streets
or the the old man that shoots snot out of his nostrils

or the old woman rudely yelling
at his grandchild and ridiculing the young
saying "when i was young...."

and shit... we survived but we also starved
even though there is a lot of animals up there
we have not always been so successful

even to this day we are shamed
when people asks us if we have a religion
and we say, no we are christians

i am glad we are christians but our beliefs
are different from all the rest, our own views
in a myriad other views of christ

we hunt with high powered rifles
some of us go willy-nilly with our bullets
and get offended because national geographic
wrote a piece about narwhal hunting in a negative light

oh and our language, it doesn't even have swear words
but you have never been scolded so hard
by your mother that it still hurts to this day

and look at us showcasing all that culture
being so serious about on stage,
acting like erika badhu the world performer

but how come i never see a person eccentric enough
to say i am going to write that novel
going to be that crazy person
living in a shack with his type writer

and its always the opposites of the two,
either rich or poor and right and wrong
and religious or non-religious
inuk or non-inuk. we never leave room for the middle

and whats this modernization talk?
what the fuck is modern anyways?
our fathers grew up before people went to the damn moon,
no tv, no internet and look at him now:
living in the modern world and we respect him because
he is an elder, a relic of the past?
would he like that?

and the land claims we all signed huh?
so proud huh? nunavut huh? 1.14 billion?
article 23? NWMB? NIRB? all so good right?

did you know that we sold our rights for $500 million?
not 1.14 billion, the rest was just interests.
does that not shame you, over a 5000 year culture sold for
a price of some ship. the USA has nuclear ships worth more than that
and still we are so proud.

oh i know what you are going to say
"at least we have something, better than nothing"

whatever! we really sold our souls to INAC, NTI, QIA
the two KIA's, corporations are fighting over a mountain
in north baffin and all in the name of owning our 19%
ownership of land in nunavut?

china is probably saying, we can sell better
than the canadians and we'd say no to them
because we are so proud to live in a free country

i am not sure if our view of ourselves
is based on reality anymore
and we've become so accommodating
and accepting that we forget our dignity
in the name of catching up to the rest of the world

so here is the new inuk:
living in a dog house with three other inuit
carving and drawing to make a living
the house beside our dog house is occupied by
a man wearing a tie and suit with a seal skin vest
with carvings and drawings by us on his walls
you can hear music of ayaya's and throat singing
as he writes our history, the noble eskimo
long forgotten and adored by the rest

let's just stop kidding ourselves please!!!


Throbbin said...

Good rant. We really should be more realistic about ourselves and our current situation.

Be aware that alot of people make alot of money by "promoting" that stereotypical Inuk. There's a "Taste of the Arctic" fundraiser coming up, to show the people "how Inuit live". Throat singing and qulliq lighting and all that good stuff.

If it were a realistic portrayal, someone would commit suicide midway through the night, men would beat their dates, party guests would contract TB, and most would drop out of high school. And a consultant would write a report about how this makes us unique.

But then folks wouldn't get to schmooze and wear their nice dresses.

You shouldn't trivialize the saturday afternoon drunk though - chances are his kids are going hungry because of it. A kabloonak social worker is searching for a foster home for his kids, and another kabloonak income support worker is looking for housing for him.

You can begrudge the suit next door, or you can get your own suit, and invite the guys in the doghouse into your own home.

I was at Tim Horton's yesterday, and bought a guy a coffee and a doughnut. Never met him before, but he looked like he could use it. I watched as 37 other Inuit waked by this guy, ignoring him, happy with their new purchases at Northmart or their little-taste-of-the-south doughnut. The sad truth is more and more Inuit generally ignore their fellow Inuit if they aren't from the same family or of the same social class.

JGrey said...

you HAVE met the crazy one who's decided to write a novel.She just dosent live in a shack or own a typewriter. That's just your own romaticization of what an Inuit Novelist would be, and honestly, I'm pretty sure that the day you decide to write a novel, you'll get a typewritre and occupy that shack on the bay, get a coleman lantern.. maybe get a coleman stove and make tea, have your little cousins bring you bannock from your parents' place... if you could grow a beard, i bet you'd do that too.

see you in Ottawa soon?

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