Smithsonian Voices

From the Smithsonian Museums

Inuit Women's Survival Skills, Which Kept Arctic Explorers Alive, Help Heal Residential School Survivors

This May the National Museum of the American Indian was privileged to host four remarkable Inuit women from Nunavut who were in Washington as guests of the Embassy of Canada to attend the opening of the exhibition "Captain George Comer and the Inuit of Hudson Bay." At a related symposium, Bernadette Dean, Rosie Kowna Oolooyuk, Manitok Thompson, and Veronica Connelly spoke of the knowledge of land, ocean, ice, sky, and animal behavior their people shared with George Comer, a whaler who wintered over at Cape Fullerton 14 times in the early 1900s. They also described the knowledge Inuit women needed to make life-saving caribou and sealskin clothing. Now they're concerned with passing that knowledge on, to help museums conserve Inuit collections and to help Inuit women heal from the deep-rooted scars left from attending Indian Residential Schools.