Curricular Expectations

Visual Arts, Grade 9, Open (AVI10)

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Collaborative Group Work


For this ArtiFACT assignment your class will work in three separate groups. Each group will study a specific period in Inuit history and report to the class as experts in their field.

Everyone should read the information about Kenojuak Ashevak Enchanted Owl and the following material on Historical Periods to begin their assignment. When you have a general understanding of Inuit art and cultural history, your class will be ready to choose specific areas for study. Divide into expert groups when the whole class is prepared.


Inuit art has a long and storied history. The Canadian Arctic, Greenland, Siberia, and Alaska have been home for several different Inuit cultures including Punuk, Birnik, Dorset, Norse, and Thule. Modern day Canadian Inuit are direct descendents of the Birnirk culture.

The Thule culture became the strongest group among Inuit cultures. Today, historians refer to the time between 1000-1600AD as the Thule Period. Art from the Thule Period tends to be rare. These people emphasized tool-making for survival, but even practical household items like knives, needle cases, combs, and snow goggles offered the Thule people a chance to develop their art. Tools were often decorated with engravings, and archeologists have found female figurines and bird pendants that date from the Thule Period.

Changes in climate and the arrival of European explorers created changes in the Inuit way of life. Historians refer to the time of these changes as the Historic Period (1600-1948). During the Historic Period, the Inuit began to produce art for trade. Sculptures of arctic animals, camp life and hunting that were carved from ivory became popular with explorers, whalers, fur-traders, and missionaries. The art of this period tends to be small and portable. Today, the tradition of carving small sculpture and miniatures continues in Aqvilikjuaq (Pelly Bay) and Naujaat (Repulse Bay).

The Contemporary Period is usually dated from 1948 and continues to the present day. Inuit art from this period is produced in many forms: sculpture, print, drawing, weaving and sewing. Increased contact with Southern artists from Canada, lead by artist and writer James Houston, helped to change the way that the Inuit people organized their communities and produced their art. The Contemporary Period brought widespread awareness of the Inuit as artists and the popularity of their work continues to grow.


Divide your class into three expert groups. Assign each group one period in Inuit history, one form of art production, and one specific Inuit artist. For tips on how to use ArtifFACT for key word searches and research click here.

Thule Period
Historical Period
Contemporary Period

Art Form
Weaving and Sewing
Printmaking and Drawing

Irene Avaalaaqiaq
David Ruben Piqtoukun
Simon Tookoome

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