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Inuvialuit News + Culture

Tusaayaksat Ulukhaktok

Volume 22 Number 2

drum dance reunion

Sachs Harbour

muskox har vest HowN e l l i e Works

IRC Hockey Cup h i g h l i g h t s

Good news for

Ulukhaktok Artists





T he ar t of t he song


special Feature Nuitaniqsaq Quliaq

pihiqs must never be lost. The late William Kagyut come over quite a lot to teach me how to drum dance and chant pihiqs. We learnt the songs one by one, because he said that’s the best way to learn. One day, he became really quiet and there were tears running down his cheeks. We sang pihiq after pihiq, it felt like there was a house full of people even though it was just the two of us. We sang with all our might. That was when I knew he had taught me all he could. “They will be with you forever,” he said.”

Settling in different villages and joining in different land claims has meant these people do not see each other often. This isolation has been an obstacle to the practice and passing on of cultural traditions such as the drum dance.

When Morris Nigiyok told this story, he was in turns laughing and crying. It was the last week of January, the sun was finally returning to Ulukhaktok, and elders from Ulukhaktok, Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay have also finally returned for a reunion. It has been perhaps 50 years since these same elders met as young people during winter gatherings in seal hunting villages on the sea ice. Drum dance celebrations would go on nightly once enough skins for clothing, and meat for food has been harvested. It was a time of abundance.

Renie Oliktoak remembers the kalgi, igloo ‘apartments’ made of cojoining igloos. “The kalgi had low roofs, just taller than a man, but they were very wide. They danced every night when hunters returned home for the day. When my grandmother went to the kalgi I would follow, but I was so shy to meet strangers. A person from the mainland, Kapatoan, would start dancing, and when, a lady, Eyeminak, grabbed the drum, he wanted her to be his dance partner. Her husband starts fighting for the drum, and there is a tug of war, but Kapatoan won, and the other man could not cross the floor anymore.”

These elders want to revive and preserve the Copper Inuit (Inuinnait) tradition of drum dancing. They share their memories of the rituals around partner selection, song meaning and dance styles, and often breaking into dance and pihiq (song).

By Zoe Ho written with quotes translated by Roy Goose p h oto s by ZO e H o a n d Dav i d S t e wa r t

Stories filled with drama and emotions were told. The appearance of new faces and new songs at drum dance gatherings are seen as triumphs. Renie broke into song about a person who is excited to get his turn at the drum at such a gathering:

This is the first time I have seen this person Left Page: Drum dancer Bobby Kakolak from Kugluktuk dances as elders chant and children peek in at the igloo’s door. This Page: Bobby and Jack Akhiatak (from Ulukhaktok) enjoy dancing as partners.

This is the first time I have seen this person

A different person, with a very unique free styling dance...

Yangi ya Yangi ya 15

There was another song, made up by a starving hunter dreaming of a bowl of bowhead backstrap meat. Singers tried to not to repeat any song each night. “There were pihiq competitions,” said Andy Akoakhion. The competitor who ran out of songs was not too happy. It was really fun to see them compete, sometimes they would hold each other’s heads like this, and blows would start landing on temples.” The ability to write songs and the ability to perform a high quantity of songs is highly esteemed. It is up to each competitor to defend their pride and place.

Roy Inuktalik, an elder from Kugluktuk, is working on a songbook. “Recording our oral history is difficult because of a lack of education,” he said modestly. “I am working on the Inuit songbook so our songs can be organized, written down and made available to our young people. I write slowly because I lack formal education. I hope people enjoy it, it is not easy.” Younger drum dancer Bobby Kakolak from Kugluktuk told us why he is determined to maintain the drum dance tradition. “I am the youngest dancer coming in…it’s exciting, but at the same time I always find it hard to show younger people that they can do it too, that they don’t have to be shy. I finally realized it’s all about enjoyment. There’s shyness but always enjoy what you are doing. I am hoping that young people understand what this is all about, that this is about carrying our traditions on. I enjoy what I do, and as long as one person learns I am happy.” During the week, we were able to observe a transformation in the community as younger members got up to try drum dancing. Crystal Kongayona was especially inspired. “It’s been four years since I started drum dancing. I just want to keep my culture going. I heard my great grandmother singing when I was in pampers growing up, but when I got older, I lost it. When I started working for elders and youth and I started getting back into drum dancing. I am probably the only younger person around here trying to do this. I am trying my hardest. I am hoping the younger kids will come around after this.”

“When I heard them singing and dancing, I fel t like I

could fly. I fel t so ligh t. It just made me feel happy. It gave me the courage to get up and learn to drum wi th them.”

Jack Akhiatak is fully immersed in the emotion of the song he is performing.

The Kitikmeot Heritage Society, Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre and the Inuvialuit Communications Society are jointly producing a documentary exploring the history of Copper Inuit drum dancing. Elders are reconnecting with their dancing traditions, remembering and recording their songs and knowledge, in the hope that younger generations will have a resource to help carry on their culture. Mary Kudlak, elder from Ulukhaktok said, “I learnt the old ways from my grandparents Manuyak and Kalvak, they are singers of old Inuit songs. When I hear the beginning of a song, especially the first verse, I would close my eyes and imagine a pathway to their minds. It seems to open my memory and I remember the other verses of the songs. It’s good to pass it onto our children and nieces and nephews, to our relatives, to whomever wants to learn the songs and to use them as reference. Our cultures are about friendship, about helping one another, and to love each other in a good and healthy way as our ancestors have.”



The elders also performed a feeding of the sun ritual, a first for even some of the younger elders. Elder Kate Inuktalik found the Spring Melt ritual “uplifting.” To the tune of a pihiq, small items of caribou, seal and char meat, along with pieces of fur are put onto sealskin and tossed towards the sun when it appears over the horizon. Elementary school language teacher Mollie Oliktoak said her students really enjoyed interacting with the elders and rushing in after the offerings are tossed. A competition was held to see who could gather up the most of the food. “We are taught if we share country food, the favor will return ten fold,” said Mary Kudlak. “Our ancestors gave offerings to the arrival of the new year, to show their happiness, to give thanks for luck during the last year, so the sun god will bring hunting and harvesting luck like in the old legends.” Elders are now hoping that this event can be held annually. A television show on Copper Inuit drum dancing will also be produced by ICS for APTN. A big Quana to Emily Kudlak and Julia Ogina for being wonderful organizers and for interviewing elders in their language.

Top: Elder Alice Aliyah of Kugluktuk dances while the other elders sing and drum. Middle: Children and elders revive the Spring Melt tradition of Feeding the Sun. Bottom: Younger generations are encouraged to try drumming.


translated by Roy Goose

Kugluktuk miotak Alice Ayalik mumirtok iglumi Ulukhaktom innait pitiqitillotik.

special Feature Nuitaniqsaq Quliaq

Last Page: Innait Ulukhatomiut lo Kugluktukmiut lo Ikaluktutiakmiut lo katimavaktot pitiplotik lo unipkaktlotik lo hokolrovakhutik lo.


itit gok ataiktaksaungit tot. Kagyutim pitikqijaktujuktok igluptinun, tadjvani hokolrovaktugut pitinik. Pitinik elihaotivaktani poigolaijakhugitlu. Kignulikpanik polaariaktukmanga, Kagyut kolvivaliktok nipaikpiakhuni, hunaova kaitkilimailihoni kolvivaktok. Namakhigaptaa, pitikivaktugut malgoinaoplota iglukpak una inuviahiyotun iliituq nipitukpiagapta. Akhuukpaktogut talvuuna. Talvani illitorijunga elihaijaktutkilimaiktuk uvamnun. Kagyutim piyanga, Ilihamajatin pitit nognolimaiktut. Nigiyom unipkakmagu, kuviatakhunilo kulvivakhunilo ilihaojini itkagevakgamiong. Hikingum takunakhiviani January mi Ulukhatomitpaktogut, Kugluktukmiut lo Ikaluktutiakmiut lo katitpaktugut pitikiyaktokhuta. Kangaralukgnoktok takutigeekapta pitikijaktokhuta ukiomi. Engilran, katitpaktogut tariumi kalgijarangata atiktut. Pitikivaktogut natikhiuktit utirangata. Anorratlo, niksakmariksigapta lo ukiok naatlasingmagit. Inuit nunamiitungnaikmata initorlirmini, nunalingnun katitpiakhota numagiaktorgunaiktogut nuattkatiptignun taimanitun. Poiblikmun lo Unggahik tomun lo pitikeyaktoktlotik aolaarunaikmata, pitit lo atutit lo poigoktauvalealiktot. Innait makuatt pititlo atuutit lo poigulaijargomayain Inuinnaktun. Taimane, Inuit kalgimata ukiomi numikatitik numikategeyaktok paktot initoklimun najoktaanun. Tikinmata, sanairmata lo numagieaat pitit atuutit lo hokolrovaktait tadjvani. Rene Oliktoam lo itkagevaktait unipkaktlogit lo taimane Inuin kalgijarangata. Kalgim kingiktilanga inum namagijanik ajanitomik iglulivaktot. Unuk tamaat numikpaktot tuvirat angilrarangat. Ananatiaga kalgi liaarangan maliktakatakpaktara Inuknik li illirahukhunga huna takunraktamnik. Poiblirmiutak gok Kapotaon mik attilik, natikmun haavitpaktok numikpaliktloni lo, arnap taffomap Eyeminap kilaotit tigoplogit numikatigejumaplogo, uigna kilaotit taploaagut tiguplogit akhangotigivaktaat tadjvani, Kapotaon akimavaktuk, tammna angun akiilitaungman numilimaingitnakpaktuk.� Unipkakpaktot aliaanktumik lo tuharnaanaktunik lo. Inungnik allanik takunraktamingnik tusarvigejomavaktaat Inuin numagiaat kalgijarangata. Taipana hokolrovaktait inuknik tujurmiaanik kilaohijarumajunik lo pitiqitillogit kalgimi:

Taipana quilliliqijuq Innait katitviaani Ulukhaktok mi pitiqiplotiq lo Inuin atutait lo hokolvovaktait itqaotlotik kalgijarangata.

Takuniakaluktaga uvanga Takuniakaluktaga uvanga Inungmiik allaamiik alangnangmiik apkuangmiutmikanga yangi ya  Gaaktiloni gok anguneakti hokolrovaktait arvirgum uliosinranik pitiqip loni, atokhimaitomik pitinik inuit anitivaktut kalgijarangata. Andy Akoakhio tim unipkakta, pitinik anittakhairangamik atugakhaikpaliramik, akiraotiyok anittakhaimat koveahugungaikpaktok. Aliaanak piaktok kongiakriaami akiraotiyonik tiglutiplotik lo, ulorianaktugaluaak tiglutinik, niakutik imaa gok tatimiplogit tiglukhirneakhimalikpaktok. Katimakategeet lo eyegeethotik unipka lioliktut Inuinait lo poiblirmiut lo atusiorutainik kilaosiyarmata. Innait pitikiplotik lo numiktlotik itkaouktulirmiyuaat pitiniik lo Inuit kaoyimatukangitnik, inuhaat takutkoplogit tusaakoplogit lo sivullipta pitkosiinik tamaktailinaptitku kinguvaapta atoktakhainik.



special Feature Nuitaniqsaq Quliaq Ulokhaktok miutak Mary Kudlak koliaaktok, “ ataatiamingnin Manuyak lo Kalvakmin lo elitpaktok pititnik sivullipta atutitukangitnik. Atuktunik tusaayarangama, atulisalirtillogit, sikungiktlonga koveatakpaktunga pitikiyot takoyoyapakgapkit tadjvanni. Itkaoktoktitpagani pitit atutaat lo unipkangat lo tusaavakapkit nutarautilonga. Nutakanun lo elaptignun lo, Inungnun lo kisutlikaanun tusaapkaklogit lo poigolaiyaktaksaraloaavut pitikinikmik koveaanakmata. Pitkosipta elisaotivaktatigut ekayoktigeekluta lo nakukutilotalo ihtluaagun inuniarutikaklota sivulipta atokpaktaatun.”

June Klengenberg

Kugluktukmiutak Roy Inuktalik, titirakpaliktait lo katiksuiplonilo pitinik. “Pitit titiraotaat ajornapjaktuk elihakhimangitnama titikikinirmik,” Inuit atutaalo pitikiutatlo katitpalirmijatka kingulipta atuktaksainik tutkikhijakhaotaanik, titiraktlogit lo inuhaat taigoaaktakhaat poigulaijaktakhaat lo. Kajumiitomik titirakpaktunga elihaktaungitnama, aajornapjakhuni lo.” Bobby Kakolak Kugluktuk miotak okalaotijatigut kilaojakpak tunga aliaanakpiakman lo kuveaagigapkit lo elitpaliaalirama pitinik atutinik lo. “Uvanga nukaktlikpangugama pitikijuni hamani aliaanakpiaktogaloaak kihimi inuhaat eelihautinahuaaktlugit aajornapjaktok, ukaotiplogit kangnuhoktailijakhaugaluaat numirmata. Ilitorijara kuveaahutaojuq tamptingun. Kanguhokkaluaatlota koveaagijakhakpot tahamna. Inuhaavut kagnikhimajakharijaat pitit hunaongmagnata, poigulaijaktakharaluangat. Kuveaagijara kilaojarnik, inuhaat elitpaliknearmijaat.” Tadjvaniitnapta, takunak paktavut inuhaat pitikinikmik lo katutijunik lo uktortlotik lo mumikpangmata koveaahuktlotik. Crystal Kongayunam koviaagivakta uktokpalirmata. “Ukiot sitamat kangiktoaat numikpalirama kilaojaktuni. Pitkohikput sivunmuakolirapku uktukpaktunga. Amaura tusaavaktara pitikeyarangat inugokpalirama, angikliplonga lo, poiguktatka. Savaanikama Inakni lo inuhaani lo numagiakataklogna kilaojarnik elitpaliaalirtara. Uvangatuaagnujungnakhijok hamani inuhaani kilauhijak tomin elitpaliaalirtunga, uktoinalirama. Nutakat mikitkijait opakpaklirtukhaogaluaat una kongiaruirumitku.” “Tusaagapkit engioktunik lo numiktunik lo, umatiga ukiplipgaktaat, koviaatakpailunga. Numirumalirtitgani pitikijut lo kilaohijaktot lo illiharumaliktitpiamanga nipigik mata.” Innait Ulokhatoliaat hikinikmun aiitokpaktot pijumajamingnik ukioptingni. Inuit elait hikinirmun aiitonraktot tadjvaniitnapta. Kate Inuktalgum koviaagija hikinirmun aiitormata. Atoktlotik nikisuaatiamik tuktublakmik lo natiplakmik lo ikalukpikmik lo amisuaatiamik lo kisigalimungaktlugit sikinrum tungaanun nalugak taat, sikinik noengmat. Mollie Kudlak elhakvingmi elihaujiojuk ukaktok nutakat gok aliaahuk piakhutik naalakhutik unipkaanik, kungiaktlotik lo Inait sikinikmun aitokmata. Ahiin, nutakanun lo inaknun lo pukuktittiyot nalugaktainik, taksijaksakaktlotik lo. Mary Kudlak okaktok, “Pajuktarnikmik elihajaovaktogut, tunijavut gok kagungkpan utiknearmata uvaptingun.” “ Sivulipta sikinik aitokpaktaat noilisarangan ukiomi nutaami, piyomayatik ukiomi nutaami, koyagiplogo lo sikinik, nakoaakunmini tunigamiong uvaptingnun.” Inuit illitkohiaat otikpalialirman uvaptingnun, Innait katimajaktoktut taimalioktoni elaoplotik. ICS kuneagaksaliornearmijot Inuinait pitikingmata lo numirmata lo kilaohijaktoktilogit APTN mi.

“Tusaagapki t engioktunik lo numiktunik lo, uma tiga ukiplipgaktaa t, koviaa takpailunga. Numirumalirti tgani pi tikiju t lo kilaohijaktot lo illiharumalikti tpiamanga nipigik ma ta.” 21

Articles for Tusaayaksat, the Inuvialuit News and Culture Magazine  
Articles for Tusaayaksat, the Inuvialuit News and Culture Magazine  

© 2009 by Inuvialuit Communications Society All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical articles or reviews, no part of thi...