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Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn

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Video still from <b>Nunaqpa (Going Inland)</b> by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn

Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, Nunaqpa (Going Inland), (1991), 5:49 min. excerpt from the 58:15 min. original, Inuktitut with English subtitles

Video still from <b>Episode 1: Quimuksik (Dog Team) - Nunavut (Our Land)</b> by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn

Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, Episode 1: Quimuksik (Dog Team) - Nunavut (Our Land), (1995), 5:16 min. excerpt from the 28:50 min. original, Inuktitut with English subtitles

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About these works

Nunaqpa (Going Inland) (1991)
Distributed by Vtape.

August is the time for nunaqpa, going inland in search of summer-fat caribou, to cache enough meat for the long winter ahead. Two families leave for the hunt, while an old couple waits by the shore for their return. Preparations are made for the long walk: readying the dogs; rolling up the tents; assembling cooking equipment, guns, and ammunition. When the caribou have been shot, skinned, and stored, the hunters return, successful.

Nunaqpa (Going Inland) is one of the earliest works by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn with the people of Igloolik, depicting life in the 1940s-that is, well after first contact with white whalers and priests, bringing rifles and metal tools, tea, and tobacco-but before families had given up their life on the land for settlement in permanent villages. We see the old life as if it still existed, when everyone wore skin clothing, travelled by dogteam, lived in igloos and skin tents, ate food killed by the men or gathered by the women and children. These memories are still alive for community elders, their knowledge of the old ways intact.

Kunuk says of their work, "We just started. We are in a hurry because our elders are going. Knowledge is going. Pretty soon we'll all be buried on the hill. It's a very interesting time for our work. Trying to get things right." As he points out, "You can just talk about the old days, but you can also show the old days. Actually seeing it, you get more pleasure out of it" (Kunuk in Phillips).

Episode 1: Quimuksik (Dog Team) - Nunavut (Our Land) (1995)
Distributed by Vtape.

The thirteen half-hour programs of Nunavut are set in the 1940s and recreate traditional life over the course of a year in Canada's High Arctic. In Dog Team, we follow an Inuit family travelling in the immense and beautiful Arctic spring, as the character Inuaraq teaches his young son the ways of survival: driving the dogs, building a snow house, hunting for food. This opening work establishes the traditional terms of life and family interaction, and introduces the first family grouping.

In the rest of the series we meet other families, as well as a newly arrived priest, with his message of change. As the weather turns colder, a stone house is built, then a porch of clear ice blocks is added, cut from the bay. As the year progresses, there are hunts for seal, Arctic char, then caribou and walrus, and we follow conversations about change and family values. The series comes to a close with Quviasuvik (Happy Day), a month after the sun has disappeared (as it does for a six-month period in the Arctic winter), a time for celebration and stories.

The series has been broadcast regularly on Television Northern Canada and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, and screened at numerous festivals internationally. Nunavut (Our Land) was featured at INPUT '95 in Spain, and the complete series was presented continuously for three months at documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany, in 2002.

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