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Sled Dogs of Russia
An Examination of Traditional Knowledge:
The Case of the Inuit Sled Dog, Part 2
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The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at: http://thefanhitch.org.
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The Inuit Sled Dog International
The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) is a consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the preservation of this ancient arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog. The ISDI's efforts are concentrated on restoring the pure Inuit Dog to its native habitat. The ISDI's coordinators welcome to your comments and questions.
|In the News....
photo: Oana Spinu
Makivik Final Report on Nunavik Dog Slaughter
On March 3, retired judge Jean-Jacques Croteau submitted his final report containing his conclusions regarding the killing of Inuit Sled Dogs during 1950-1970. His investigation began in 2007, undertaken at the request of the Makivik Corporation, the organization mandated to protect the rights, interests and financial compensation of Nunavik Inuit.
While his interim report, submitted April 2009, did not find a systematic elimination of sled dogs during the investigated period, in his final conclusions Croteau said, "… the whole of Nunavik society suffered damaging consequences from the actions, attitudes and mistakes of bureaucrats, agents and representatives of the two governments, who killed at least 1,000 dogs in Nunavik during the 1950s and 1960s."
Croteau is confident that both the federal and provincial government "will make amends" and he suggests that financial compensation "should be divided up among non-profit Inuit corporations to organize dog sled races like the annual Ivakkak dog sled race in Nunavik; promote the creation of Inuit art and its sale; and, promote the teaching and use of Inuttitut and of Inuit syllabics throughout Nunavik."
On March 16th, the Makivik board will meet to review the comprehensive 163-page report.
The Fan Hitch has requested a copy of the final report. Links to other documents generated as the result of official investigations (by Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Qikiqtani Truth Commission and Makivik Corporation) can be found on The Fan Hitch Resources page under "Official reports regarding Canadian Federal Government vis-a-vis Inuit social/cultural issues, including sled dogs".
Permanent Veterinary Service in Nunavik a Possibility by 2012
A February 28, 2010 article in the Canadian Arctic weekly Nunatsiaq News announced the possibility of establishing permanent veterinary service in Nunavik by 2012. Currently communities receive minimal veterinary service, such as vaccinations, during a rare visit from a volunteer vet or by access to free telephone information by calling the University of Montreal's Veterinary College. Sometimes dog owners might send an animal to Montreal for treatment – a huge expense. But much more local services beyond some vaccinations are needed and much desired by Nunavik residents, including spays and castrations as well as treatment of traumatic injuries. Dog team owners in particular see a growing need for a full range of services. One musher, Harry Okpik, has been trained to administer vaccinations and is now the go-to person in his community to do the procedure. But even Okpik acknowledges a growing need for hands-on professional veterinary services, "Veterinary care is very important if you want to maintain healthy dogs," he said. "I’ve been attached to dogs for many years… and it's important for an owner to be able to identify what is wrong with their dog."
Dr. Cecile Aenishaenslin, with the University of Montreal's faculty of veterinary medicine, is helping to develop a program. She says that staffing and funding are the main obstacles needed to be overcome in order to make Nunavik-wide veterinary service permanently available.
Call for Greater Inuit Dog Recognition
In the January 5, 2010 issue of Nunatsiaq News Online, Peter Irniq, who has held many offices in government and Inuit organizations, asked that Inuit Sled Dogs "be formally recognized within the Inuit homelands for their contribution in helping Inuit survive for thousands of years. Inuit organizations can be the strength behind this initiative."
World Wide Media Attention on the Inuit Dog
Because the G-7 Finance summit was held in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada in early February, a picture of a team in harness, correctly identified as Inuit Sled Dogs, appeared in the media throughout North America, Europe and elsewhere around the globe.
A New Theory on Migration of Ancient Arctic People
In The Northern World: AD 900 to 1400 (University of Utah Press, 2009; ISBN 978-0-87480-955-8), co-editor and Canadian archaeologist, Robert McGhee, has proposed a radical new theory that the ancient Inuit migration across the Canadian Arctic all the way to Greenland happened in just a few years and not centuries, as has been traditionally believed. The stated motivation for this rapid transcontinental passage was word of a meteor composed of iron ore that landed in Greenland's Cape York. The story was reported in the Vancouver Sun on February 8, 2010.
Ken MacRury, who wrote his Master’s thesis on the Inuit Dog stated, "The dog would have been invaluable in the rapid travel if McGee's theory is correct. The dog for spring travel and the umiak/qayaq for summer travel would have allowed the Thule people to cover the distance in a few years, even given that they would have been traveling as family units with women and children. That would have ensured that the dog would not have had time to adjust/change to meet different conditions encountered en route and that would have ensured a very uniform breed from Alaska to Greenland. An interesting new approach to the Thule spread across the Arctic."
DNA Analysis of a Member of the Extinct Saqqaq Culture
Scientists have extracted DNA from the hair of a four-thousand-year-old Greenlander, whom they named "Inuk", believed to be a member of the now extinct Saqqaq culture. The process of gene sequencing, the first time this has been performed on an ancient human, revealed that Inuk's origins were from Siberia about five-and-a-half millennia ago. The study "Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo" appeared in the February 11, 2010 issue of Nature. Detailed reports in lay (non-technical) language, including an artist rendition of what Inuk may have looked like, can be found on the world wide web at National Geographic Daily News, "Face of Ancient Human Drawn from Hair's DNA"; Cosmic Log, "Hairs Trace Human History; and in the New York Times, "Ancient Man in Greenland Has Genome Decoded".