Thursday, October 8, 2015

White Lies About the Inuit

I just finished reading John Steckley's "White Lies About the Inuit" (University of Toronto Press). 

The book itself is somewhat disappointing as a read but it does have some very helpful information to combat at least two (bizarre) myths: 

His chapter "Fifty-Two Words for Snow", debunks the popular myth that Inuit languages have a zillion words for snow - I thought "aput" was sufficient -- and discusses Inuit languages; and

His chapter, "Elders on Ice", debunks the myth that elder Inuit were abandoned to die as being "useless mouths."  This last myth is specially odd to anyone who has seen the enormous respect and love felt for elders in traditional Inuit culture.

Steckley's point is that Inuit are seen by Southerners as so exotic and strange that almost any story about them is believed -- and those stories serve the cause of colonialism and cultural imperialism.  These are good points but, sadly, it is a real trudge to get through the text itself.  That said, it is worth buying the book if only for the data it contains.

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