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The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at: http://thefanhitch.org.
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This site is dedicated to the Inuit Dog as well as related Inuit culture and traditions. It is also home to The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog.
In Celebration of Nunavut:
Life on the Land
Arctic Dog Team
reviewed by Sue Hamilton
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) offers a collection of three documentaries that recorded Inuit living their traditional hunting-trapping existence. Arctic Dog Team (10:11; 1949; in color), Arctic Jungle (10:21; 1948; in color) and Arctic Hunter (16:11; 1944; in black and white) include scenes of the non-aboriginal presence of missionaries, Hudson’s Bay Company traders, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and an annual very early version of today’s sealift which brought mail, building and other supplies, including tobacco. (A ship’s officer is seen lighting a cigar for an Inuk woman.) In these three films, the non-Inuit influence is felt even greater by the presence of the totally inappropriate music accompanying Arctic Dog Team and Arctic Jungle and even worse, the narration that was entirely written from a white perspective. This is especially puzzling in Arctic Dog Team as the narrator is Doug Wilkinson, who was known as “Qimmiq” by his Inuit friends with whom he had formed close bonds. Although all three documentaries reasonably describe Inuit life and activities, Arctic Jungle did the best job of minimizing the non-aboriginal adjectives. It was also accompanied entirely by traditional drumming and ayaya singing.
The location for the films was largely the eastern arctic along the northwest coast of Hudson’s Bay. Collectively scenes include summer time hunting of seals, walruses, beluga whales and polar bear by boat and qajaq (kayak) using rifles, harpoons and seal skin floats; fishing with the use of kakivak (fish spear); the use of an ulu for butchering, preparing fish for drying, skinning hides, eating; sewing skin clothing and qajaq covering. And of course there were scenes of the dogs: recently born pups, children “learning” how to manage a kid-sized qamutiq while “training” older puppies how to pull, dozens of loose dogs descending on a spot where scraps of food have been left for them, several dogs taking down a rack of fish drying, the preparation of mud/ice covered runners, loading a qamutiq for distance travel, lots of scenes of dog team travel with one showing a team so eager to go that a multi-dog fight ensues. Doug Wilkinson describes the traditional need, use and behavior of the dogs.
You may not be able to find this particular trio as a collection by searching the NFB website. So to arrange purchase of this multi-regional formatted DVD-R, please email the NFB. For US and Canadian buyers, the cost is $19.95 (in either country’s currency). NFB may not have the rights to sell it internationally. So outside of North America may require an extra step to find a Canadian or US connection to buy it for you. As a resource documenting what life on the land was like and how Inuit were perceived through the eyes of non-aboriginals, Arctic Dog Team, Arctic Jungle and Arctic Hunter are worth the effort to include in your polar video collection.