Fascination with the stone markers of the Inuit
Inuksuit fascinate me. Inuksuit is the plural form of the word inukshut (pronounced en-NUK-shook). Inuksuit are stone markers that have been used by the Inuit, the first people to inhabit portions of Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, and Greenland, for generations as guides or directional markers.
Inukshuk means “that which acts in the capacity of a human” in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit. An inukshuk can be small or large and consists of several rocks balanced on each other. Because it is built from whatever rocks are on hand, each one is unique.
The arrangement of stones indicates an inukshuk’s purpose. Inuksuit may indicate the presence of food, point to a good hunting or fishing spot, mark a sacred place, or act as navigational aids.
For several years I had my own small Inukshuk in my perennial garden. I built it using stones I found in cottage country. I gave no special thought to its shape other than finding a way to best balance the uneven and different shaped stones in a manner to best withstand wind. The elements and the passing bunny did knock it over from time to time and I rebuilt it a few times each summer. Although I had no deliberate shape in mind, the figure marked what was for me a special spot. I left the Inukshuk for the new owners. Whether it is still there or not, I do not know.
The Inunnguaq shape formed the basis of the logo for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. it was designed by Elena Rivera MacGregor. An Inukshuk forms the central part of the flag of Canada’s northernmost territory, Nunavut.
Inuksuit are a beautiful and clever means of communication that continue to fascinate me.