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The Aboriginal Dog as a Domesticate
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Specialized Sledge Dogs Accompanied Inuit Dispersal Across the North American Arctic
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Langsomt på Svalbard (Slowly on Svalbard)
Frossen Frihe (Frozen Freedom)
Restoring a Historic Nansen Sledge
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IMHO: A View from Across the Divide
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IMHO....A View from Across the Divide
by Sue Hamilton
I have recently learned that the Canadian Eskimo Dog Club of Canada (CEDCC) plans to petition the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) to change the name of their breed to “Inuit Qimmiq”. As my long time Canadian friend who shares my respect for aboriginal dogs reminded me, “Canada is big on Canadian political correctness now. Likely it is the word Eskimo that is driving this.” No doubt. However, that may be only part of the reason.
Not only is political correctness a hot topic, recently, and in relation to another northern issue (music), the subject of “cultural appropriation” has been hotly debated.
Now speaking in terms of the dog only, it seems to me when one thinks of a definition of the word “Eskimo”, that historically the dogs ate raw meat (even though I imagine many of today’s cultured breed Canadian Eskimo Dogs eat kibble). This would appear not representing as pejorative a remark as it was when used referring to The People.
In this context, the “E” word may be less onerous than the utterly ridiculous proposed “Inuit Qimmiq” moniker which to this qallunaaq really smacks of cultural appropriation! Historically (before the advent of kennel club registration, written breed standards and pedigrees and all the trappings of a cultured dog breed society) as well as right now, the authentic landrace “Inuit Qimmiq” (more commonly referred to in the north by other names but never this one) the dog widely recognized as essential to millennia of Inuit survival, is inherently unlike the cultured breed of the CEDCC proposed new identity. I find it especially egregious, not to mention hypocritical, that back in 1997 when the term “Inuit Sled Dog” (referring to these aboriginal dogs of the circumpolar north) came into open use, the crowd then known as CEDA passionately denounced the name. Among their chief complaint was that if a dog didn’t have a kennel club certified pedigree (or a tattoo inside its lip as one Inuk was led to believe) IT WAS NOT PURE! Not understanding what an aboriginal landrace means, they still don’t consider these dogs “pure”. Another issue hotly rejected is based on Ken MacRury’s 1991 master’s thesis declaring the dogs of Canada and Greenland are the same landrace. This opposition remains despite verification many times over by DNA driven science.
Not unlike the Alaskan Malamute (originally derived from Inuit Dogs) whose real existence and history began with the breed’s 1935 American Kennel Club registration, the CKC Canadian Eskimo Dog’s history began when some but not all of the animals generated by Bill Carpenter’s and John McGrath’s Eskimo Dog Recovery Project were turned over to registered dog enthusiasts who pursued and bred dogs for showing and pets. Essentially the history of that particular group of dogs began around 1986 when they, on the leashes pulled by their owners, crossed the line from being an aboriginal landrace to a cultured breed. (A couple of the research articles elsewhere in this issue of PostScript allude to changes in neuroanatomy and behavior as a result in dog breeds’ changes in ways of life.) The rest of the project’s dogs were saved, returned to people and places where the dogs continued to be bred and worked as were their predecessors.
Note: Shortly prior to being published in PostScript #5, where it was originally and solely intended, I submitted “A view from across the divide” on January 17, 2020 in reaction to a story which appeared the January 17, 2020 issue of Nunatsiaq News Online (the newspaper of record for Nunavut and Nunavik), “Push underway to rename Canadian Eskimo Dog as Inuit Qimmiq”.