Coda on Inuit music

I’ve fallen one post behind on my commitment to blog weekly, due to travel and the last two posts being so dang long, so here are some outtakes from Canada’s mandatory “Eskimo Identification” tags to catch me up.

I mentioned a song by Lucie Idlout (pictured above) about Eskimo Identification tags. The song is called E5-770, My Mother’s Name. Here, you can listen while you read.

I learned about this song (and many other details and perspectives) from a paper called Reflections of a disk-less Inuk on Canada’s Eskimo identification system by Norma Dunning. Something I thought was very interesting (especially in the context of some Inuit laughing at the ID program) but didn’t fit into the post was Dunning’s interpretation of Idlout’s song.

Dunning argues that E5-770, My Mother’s Name is in the “traditional Inuit form of… an iviutit,” a type of song “used to embarrass people, to make fun of them, to make fun of their weaknesses.” These songs were used as a way of “evening the score” in place of physical violence. If you want to learn more about iviutit then apparently you should have read the book that my wife had on our shelf for years but then gave away before I ever got around to it.

Susan Aglukark also has a song about the disk system, called E186, which has a trance-like quality that got stuck in my head for most of the writing of the post.

Dunning compares this one to a traditional Inuit pisiq song, which she defines, quoting David Owingayak, as a song that “tells of things that happened in the past… sung with a drum.”

So concludes the 11th post of the 11th week. 41 to go.

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