Living with Eskimos

Photo: Scarlett Hooft Graafland

Photographer Scarlett Hooft Graafland spent 4 months living with the Eskimos in the remotest part of north Canada and documented her experience in her photograph series "You Winter, let's get divorced."

James Read of Don't Panic Magazine has an engaging interview with Scarlett and a few photographs to boot:

Okay, and how about igloos? You made an igloo for one of your photos, right?

I learned some igloo building, yes. It’s beautiful how such a structure works and how peaceful it is to sit inside one. It’s a real shelter from the cold, and the sound insulation is intriguing too. I was surprised that you could do this with such thin blocks of ice.

For my project Lemonade Igloo, I made frozen blocks of orange lemonade, cast them in wooden boxes, and asked traditional Inuit men to build an igloo out of the blocks. It took a whole day – you have to glue all the pieces together with snow and water to make a strong structure out of it. A big job.


From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by JJA.

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And speaking of these blanket terms, the same goes for "Indians" vs. "Native-Americans" or whatever else they've come up with lately.
All these words are Western constructs, words from a language not native to America when it is discovered by the Europeans. They had their own tribal names and probably didn't have a blanket term for all the people that shared their skin color, since they didn't know there was another way people could look. That is until the Europeans came and brought the full buffet. So I would imagine they probably just called themselves "human" in their different dialects and languages.

So, what I'm saying is, the whole thing is corrupt to start with. Changing the name for a particular group of people every ten years to try to make up for a mass-genocide is like putting a band-aid on a decapitated head.

There isn't really much need to use these words in an everyday conversation (wishful thinking, I know, but there isn't). For the purposes of theoretical essays and studies that rely on ethnic-specific data then those performing the study should be allowed to choose whichever term they find to be the most accurate and descriptive given the circumstances. So if they want to say "Indians", I say let 'em.
But with these things like everything else, I guess you have to leave it up to the people the word refers to:
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Well, here's the thing.
I know a thing or two about eskimos (I have been in Greenland), and the way I understand it the word "inuit" is too specific, it's like calling all Asian people Japanese. It refers to a sub-group of what we used to call "eskimos".

I realize there may be some cultural-insensitivity baggage that needs to be dealt with, but in terms of accuracy I would go with "Eskimo". If you want, we can settle on Greenland-American or some $h!t like that but either way we would be doing this group of people a disservice.
And aside from all that, the "eskimos" that I met didn't give a damn what you called them, they usually had "names" they used to address each other with anyway.

And, no, Eskimo does not equal the N-word by a long shot. Not even in the same ballpark.
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