Home > A journey into Inuit Traditional Knowledge > Childrearing Practices > Chapter 6

photo Young Inuit girl carrying a baby in her amauti hood

Chapter 6

Uqsuralik Ottokie
Sometimes we would be invited over for boiled meat. One piece of meat would be passed around from person to person. The first person to take the meat was told by the others to cut off a piece and then to pass it. It was passed around following the path of the sun. Sometimes you thought, “I hope by the time it reaches me, I get the bone, so I can kikkaq, pull the remnants of the meat from the bone.” You had to keep passing it around as long as there was meat. The pot with the broth was also passed around. That way everybody got to have some. The children ate separately. The meat was already cut up for them, so they could have some too. (Page 81)
According to the elders' testimonies, certain parts of the seal were to be left to the women. "In the area of Kinngait, the parts that went to the women were the shoulders, the anterior section of the thoracic cage, the heart and the lower part of the vertebral column." (Page 81) The longer ribs were set aside for children.

It happened often, as it does today, that a child did not want to eat. The rule was simple: one should not force anything. "I myself have several children and grandchildren. Some of them eat a lot, others eat little. But I do not force them. I simply give them the amount that they wish for." (Page 87) By not forcing, as the elders suggest in their testimonies, the child will end up eating normally, in due time.

According to the elders, the flu is something new in Arctic communities. Before the regular coming of service boats, the Inuit were seldom ill. The elders are firm in their saying that whatever the illness, be it jaundice, flu, colds, or measles, all of them were absent from the North. Indeed, the elders were very seldom ill. But, "when the people who are seldom ill come down with something, generally, they die." (Page 85)