Glossary of terms

nattiq ringed seal
"The ringed seal nattiq has a population estimated at close to 5,000,000 and is the most abundant sea mammal in the Canadian Arctic. Seal meat is the main part of the traditional diet in almost every Inuit community. Hunting seal is part of a healthy and traditional way of life. Seal meat and organs provide Inuit with an excellent source of protein, iron and some B Vitamins. Seal liver and blubber are an excellent source of Vitamin A and contain some Vitamin C. Inuit elders say that seal is a "special food". Seal meat and organs keep Inuit healthy and warm. Seal is also used as a medicine to heal the body and soul from sickness. Ringed seal liver and beluga whale maktaaq (skin and blubber) are major sources of selenium in the Inuit diet. The skins of ringed seal are extremely valuable for clothing. They weigh less than caribou skins, and are full of oil increasing their water repellency yet they are porous, which allows body humidity to escape. These characteristics make seal an ideal material for kamiks (boots), and for clothing worn out hunting at the ice edge or at seal breathing holes. Seal skin parkas and trousers are worn in spring and summer by many Inuit. In the past the skins were also made into boats and kayaks, and some were made into tents. Traditionally, the intestines of the seal were turned into waterproof parkas. When camping on the land, Inuit still use seal fat for fuel oil and lighting. While seals provide important nutritional and economic benefits, sealing also continues to play an important role in the social aspects of Inuit culture. This is reflected in the rich vocabulary in the Inuktitut language for different species, varieties and characteristics of seals. Sealing provides the context in which modern knowledge, as well as Inuit traditions about hunting and ecology are most fully expressed and transmitted through the generations." (Inuit Tapiriiksat Inuit Tapirisat of Canada; Centre for Indigenous Peoples Nutrition and Environment (CINE); GNWT Inuit Traditional Foods Nutrition Fact Sheet Series; )

The legend of Sedna (Taleeleo, Nuliajuk), with its hundreds of versions across the Eastern Arctic, provides a powerful metaphor

harp seal

hooded seal

harbour seal

bluecoat

seal oil lamp




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Maureen Flynn-Burhoe 2000. Last updated web design (not content) February 2002.
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