THE INUINNAQTUN BOW MAKING TRADITION
BUILDING AND TALKING ABOUT BOWS
Inuinnait have a bow making tradition that is centuries old. Several Elders in Inuinnait communities today remember their parents and grandparents building and using bows, and many have even built and taken animals with bows themselves.
Top left: Two Inuinnait Archers near Armstrong Point, May 1, 1916 (George Wilkins/CMH/51667). Top middle: Attigi, Copper Inuk man, turned to show load on his back, and another Inuk man, returning from fishing on ice at fishing lake near Bernard Harbour, N.W.T. (Nunavut). (Rudolph Martin Anderson/CMH/39376). Top right: Attigi carrying pack and bow near Bernard Harbour, Northwest Territories (Nunavut) (Rudolph Martin Anderson/CMH/39375). Bottom left: Copper Inuk man drilling bone with a bow drill, Coppermine River, N.W.T. (Nunavut) (JohnRaffles Cox/CMH/39674). Bottom right: Young Copper Inuk man carrying bow in quiver on his back, long 'tusks' decorating front of atigi, near Cape Barrow, Coronation Gulf, N.W.T. (Nunavut) (Rudolph Martin Anderson/CMH/39411)
In Cambridge Bay from November 11-14, 2005 and in Kugluktuk from January 20-23, 2006, Elders and youth were brought together for the purpose of building traditional Inuinnaqtun bows, and recording the Elders knowledge of bows, bow making, and hunting with bows.
For Inuinnait, the bow was a very important tool for survival. It was used mainly for hunting caribou, but was also used for ptarmigan, hare, muskox, and even grizzly.
Over four days, workshop participants gained insight into their heritage by crafting a wooden bow while Elders provided demonstrations, advice and oral traditions. The Elders knowledge and experiences of bow making and hunting with the bow were recorded, as well as many Inuinnaqtun terms for bows, arrows and hunting techniques.
Bennett Hikomak of Kugluktuk traces out bow shape for youth.
Kugluktuk Elder Joseph Niptanatiaq target practicing with an ihuin'naqtaq.