September 5, 2009

Take Me the Inuit Culture

Take Me Away Saturday

As a lover of books that take place in different cultures and are about different cultures, Take Me Away is a way to share this love with you, my readers and friends!

Each week I feature a different country or culture (ex. Cherokee, Jewish, etc. that do not have a specific country per se) and list some books that can transport you there.

I am keeping a map of the countries we visit and a list of the specific cultures, which you can see at the bottom of this post. Here is a list of where we've been so far:
Australian Aborigines
Brazil India
Sierra Leone
Sioux Nation Spain
Japan Haiti
Kenya Norway
Taiwan Turkey

This week we are visiting the Inuit People. Click on the titles of the books to go to or Barnes & to read reviews and/or purchase the book.

Here is a close-up map of where Inuit populations are concentrated:
Click here for more information on the Inuit People.

Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O'Dell
When her father is injured while training for the Iditarod (the famous 1200-mile dogsled race between Anchorage and Nome), Bright Dawn eagerly takes his place. ``The race is won by thinking,'' an older competitor warns her, which proves to be true. Like all superb adventure stories, this one concerns external threats from the elements and nature, as well as the inner battle: the strength of Bright Dawn's character. Of O'Dell's recent works this is one of his bestexciting to read and infused with dignity. The race, with an unexpected ending, gives the story its simple, penetrating structure. But the story's depth comes from Bright Star's admiration for her father, running like a current through the story. O'Dell's understated, laconic style seems perfectly suited to depicting their relationship. Ages 10-14. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Genre: YA Fiction

Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse
A young girl asks how much her mother loves her, even when she is naughty, and receives warm, reassuring answers. The twist on this familiar theme is that the two are Inuits, and the text and pictures draw on their unique culture: "What if I put salmon in your parka, ermine in your mittens, and lemmings in your mukluks?" asks the girl. Two pages of back matter define and explain the functions of various terms in Inuit life past and present. Charming, vibrant watercolor illustrations expand the simple rhythmic text, adding to the characters' personalities and to the cultural information. Ceremonial masks appear in the corner of several pages and on the endpapers, a nice detail in a well-designed book. Publisher: Chronicle Books Genre: Children's Fiction (I have read this book to my pre-k students and they love it.)

The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic by Melanie McGrath
In this riveting tale of Canadian bureaucracy and cultural arrogance, British journalist McGrath (Motel Nirvana) tells how in 1953 a handful of Inuit families were coerced from Hudson Bay's eastern shore and relocated 1,500 miles north to bitterly rocky and icy Ellesmere Island—the world's ninth-largest island. Sold as a humane attempt to provide a livelihood for the Inuit when fox pelt prices plummeted, the scheme was, in fact, callously political. Canada wanted to plant the flag—and some people—on the uninhabited and largely impenetrable island, over which Greenland, Denmark and the United States had territorial aspirations, particularly as the Cold War intensified. A compact history of northern life adds context to the story of horrific exile, which McGrath humanizes by focusing on Josephie Flaherty, the mixed-race son of an Inuit mother and of American director Robert Flaherty, who created the cinematic sensation Nanook of the North in the 1920s. McGrath's account of inhumane deprivation is based on contemporary documents and astonishing interviews with survivors, who after decades of pleading to be repatriated to their homeland finally forced public hearings in 1993 that shocked Canadians and culminated in the 1999 creation of Nunavut, the world's only self-governing territory for indigenous people. Publisher: Vintage Genre: Nonfiction, Wilderness Survival

Inuit Art: An Introduction by Ingo Hessel
Although the Inuit have lived in the Artic since prehistoric times, Inuit art as we know it only came about in the late 1940s. This contemporary art form is appreciated around the world for its power and exquisite beauty, an art that embodies the Inuit's harsh artic environment, unique way of life, and traditional beliefs. This historical, cultural, and aesthetic exploration of Inuit art features examples of Inuit drawings, prints, textiles, and sculpture through 125 color photos, 35 black-and-white photos, and maps. Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre Genre: Art

Give Me My Father's Body: The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo by Kenn Harper
In his search for the North Pole at the turn of the twentieth century, the renowned Robert E. Peary, long celebrated as an icon of modern exploration, used the Eskimos of northwestern Greenland as the human resources for his expeditions. Sailing aboard a ship called Hope in 1897, Peary entered New York harbor with six Eskimos as his cargo. Depositing them with the American Museum of Natural History as live "specimens" to be poked, measured, and observed by the paying public, Peary abruptly abandoned any responsibility for their care. Four of the Eskimos died within a year. One managed to gain passage back to Greenland. Only the sixth, a boy of six or seven with a precociously solemn smile, remained, orphaned and adrift in a bewildering metropolis. His name was Minik. Here, a century after the fact, is his story. A searing true tale of extraordinary darkness told with intensity and vigilance, Give Me My Father's Body is Kenn Harper's absorbing, intricately documented account of ruthless imperialism in the name of science, of cruel deceptions and false burials, and of the short, strange, and tragic life of the boy known as the New York Eskimo. Publisher: Washington Square Press Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography

Dogsong by Gary Paulsen
Something is bothering Russel Susskit. He hates waking up to the sound of his father's coughing, the smell of diesel oil, the noise of snow machines starting up. Only Oogruk, the shaman who owns the last team of dogs in the village, understands Russel's longing for the old ways and the songs that celebrated them. But Oogruk cannot give Russel the answers he seeks; the old man can only prepare him for what he must do alone. Driven by a strange, powerful dream of a long-ago self and by a burning desire to find his own song, Russel takes Oogruk's dogs on an epic journey of self-discovery that will change his life forever. Publisher: Simon & Schuster Genre: YA Fiction

A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak Series #1) by Dana Stabenow
When a young national park ranger disappears during the long Alaskan winter, everyone assumes the cold got him. But when an investigator goes in after him and fails to return, Kate Shugak suspects it's more than the weather. With her Husky-breed, Mutt, as an ally, she goes hunting for answers among the pipeliners, Aleuts, and marginal eccentrics of the rugged American North. What she finds is thin ice between lies and loyalties...between justice served and the bare face of cold-blooded murder. Publisher: Penguin Group Genre: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Women Detectives

This is not, of course, an exhaustive list. Do you want to share book recommendations that feature the Inuit People? Or do you want to share other thoughts? Please leave a note in the comments!

Be sure to check back next week for another trip in books! Here is what is coming up for the next three Take Me Away Saturday posts:

September 12: Trio: the countries of Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania
September 19: The Asian country of Vietnam
September 26: South American country of Peru

The Take Me Away Map of Countries Visited:


  1. Very cool! I love to see these interactive maps of where people have "visited" through their reading. I might do one of them next year.


  2. I read a book about the Inuit culture and for the life of me, I can't remember the name of it, but I found it totally fascinating. Thanks for the recommendations.

  3. These look really good, especially the murder mystery with the woman detective and her husky! Thanks once again for a great list of recommendations!

  4. There's this movie I watched in American Indian Art that was shot in 1920 of the Inuits in Alaska. It was pretty interesting--completely colonial, but I think it might have been the first time that tribe of Inuits came into contact with Western European culture. You could probably find it on YouTube or Internet Archive.

  5. What a wonderful idea! Thanks for commenting on my blog so that I could discover yours!

  6. As it happens, I'm doing a give away about a book that has to do with Inuits (or, as they say in the book, Ennuits)

  7. This might be my favourite of your lists yet :D Another book I'd suggest is East by Edith Pattou. It's a fairy tale retelling, but it's full of real details about Inuit life.

  8. Hi--I think you would enjoy my new novel on the Inuit, too. Check out the reviews on Amazon, or the one-minute book trailer on YouTube:

    Thanks for blogging about books!

    Mara Feeney
    Author of Rankin Inlet: A Novel
    ISBN 978-0-9819319-5-1

  9. What a fantastic idea! Love the interactive map. I want to steal, er, borrow this idea for children's books my son has read, but I don't think I have the energy.


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