By Michael Hingston
“It really signals this idea of adaptation,” Martin, a professor of indigenous literature at the University of Alberta, says of Teevee’s illustration. “A lot of Inuit scholars emphasize adaptability as a crucial component of Inuit culture: to make do with whatever you have.”
You can see this principle at work in several areas of life in the North, from diet to shelter. But Stories in a New Skin takes a relatively new tack by applying it to the growing field of Inuit literature and literary criticism. Here, flexibility is essential because so many Inuit stories come in genres that don’t neatly conform to the ones southerners have grown accustomed to.
How, for instance, should we engage with old hunting songs, the details of which shift according to who’s doing the singing—not to mention who’s in the audience? Or what about iviutiit, which are a kind of insult-poem, designed to publicly embarrass others when they’ve done something wrong?