By the end of the summer, some bushes are loaded with berries and their roots are used to make teas and medicines. Even though we now have access to medicines from outside, we still use medicinal plants.
By the end of the summer, some bushes are loaded with berries and their roots are used to make teas and medicines. Even though we now have access to medicines from outside, we still use medicinal plants.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Blueberries

Blueberry bush.

Photo by E. Cundill.

© Elizabeth Cundill


Some places are barren of all vegetation with only the ancient rocks forming the surface. In most places, the land is covered with mosses and lichen that hide a thin layer of soil. Underneath this layer the ground is permanently frozen, and only the top fifty centimeters or so thaws in the summertime. When this happens it is difficult for the water to drain away, and this either creates large areas of shallow water or will form a surface known as "muskeg" which is a wonderful breeding ground for mosquitoes and almost impossible to walk on.
Some places are barren of all vegetation with only the ancient rocks forming the surface. In most places, the land is covered with mosses and lichen that hide a thin layer of soil. Underneath this layer the ground is permanently frozen, and only the top fifty centimeters or so thaws in the summertime. When this happens it is difficult for the water to drain away, and this either creates large areas of shallow water or will form a surface known as "muskeg" which is a wonderful breeding ground for mosquitoes and almost impossible to walk on.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Swampy area

Muskeg is swampy, poorly drained soil that provides an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Photo by E. Cundill.

© Elizabeth Cundill


The stars and lights of the winter night sky has been the companion and guide to Inuit for thousands of years. After all, in the northern part of our territory the winter night lasts for several months.

We have come to know the stars, have given them names and can use them to navigate our way across the vast expanses that we encounter in our travels on the land and sea ice. On the darkest of nights, stars carry their light down to the snow covered surface enabling us to walk with a sense of safety.

In times past, and maybe even today the stars, moon and northern lights have carried mysterious powers that could be used by the shaman. It is told that the most powerful of our shamen could travel to the moon and stars, and there is a story we tell about the women who married the moon spirit, bringing his child back down to earth.
The stars and lights of the winter night sky has been the companion and guide to Inuit for thousands of years. After all, in the northern part of our territory the winter night lasts for several months.

We have come to know the stars, have given them names and can use them to navigate our way across the vast expanses that we encounter in our travels on the land and sea ice. On the darkest of nights, stars carry their light down to the snow covered surface enabling us to walk with a sense of safety.

In times past, and maybe even today the stars, moon and northern lights have carried mysterious powers that could be used by the shaman. It is told that the most powerful of our shamen could travel to the moon and stars, and there is a story we tell about the women who married the moon spirit, bringing his child back down to earth.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

sky

Northern lights.

Courtesy of Makivik Corporation.

© Makivik Corporation


"Northern Lights are mysteriously dancing
Dancing to the music of the ancient Inuit
Dangerously beautiful
They are attracting the eyes of all"
Anonymous, Iqaluit School
"Northern Lights are mysteriously dancing
Dancing to the music of the ancient Inuit
Dangerously beautiful
They are attracting the eyes of all"
Anonymous, Iqaluit School

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

One of the most spectacular features of the Arctic environment is the northern lights. At times, they are said to dance across the horizon while at other times they appear to stretch forever. They are constantly moving and changing in shape. They are of endless fascination to observers of the Arctic night and are the subject of many Inuit stories and legends.

Over the years there have been many scientific explanations of phenomenon. The most widely accepted explanation is that the northern lights are created by ionic dust in the upper atmosphere attracted by the magnetic north pole. The northern lights are visible throughout the year, but appear to be most intense in the fall and late winter.
One of the most spectacular features of the Arctic environment is the northern lights. At times, they are said to dance across the horizon while at other times they appear to stretch forever. They are constantly moving and changing in shape. They are of endless fascination to observers of the Arctic night and are the subject of many Inuit stories and legends.

Over the years there have been many scientific explanations of phenomenon. The most widely accepted explanation is that the northern lights are created by ionic dust in the upper atmosphere attracted by the magnetic north pole. The northern lights are visible throughout the year, but appear to be most intense in the fall and late winter.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Sculpture

Whistling at Aurora.

Courtesy of La Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, 1999.

© La Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, 1999.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe aspects of the effects of seasons on the Arctic landscape
  • Define muskeg
  • Define northern lights and explain what causes this phenomenon
  • Describe the importance of the winter sky to Inuit

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