Looking for Inuit proverbs or quoatations
April 2, 2017 7:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm designing an illustrated book of Inuit folk tales for a university project, and I'm looking for an Inuit proverb or quotation to put at the beginning of the book, preferably in the original language (with translation). The stories in the book are very dark and bloody, so I'm looking for something in that vein.

Here's one of the stories in the book, so you have an idea of the kind-of tone I'm looking for:

Old Age

There was a woman who was old, blind, and likewise unable to walk. Once she asked her daughter for a drink of water. The daughter was so bored with her old mother that she gave her a bowl of her own piss. The old woman drank it all up, then said: “You’re a nice one, daughter. Tell me—which would you prefer as a lover, a louse or a sea scorpion?”

“Oh, a sea scorpion,” laughed the daughter, “because he would not be crushed so easily when I slept with him.”

Whereupon the old woman proceeded to pull sea scorpions out of her vagina, one after another, until she fell over dead.
posted by Chenko to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Which Inuit language?

I am certain that you know that there are several languages - I know of Inupiaq, Kalaallisut, Inuktitun, Inuktitut - and there are others in Alaska and in Siberia.

Who is your audience for the project? The person who will assess the project, or is there a wider audience? Where are they located?

Also, what alphabet will you use for your inscription at the beginning of the book?
posted by seawallrunner at 10:35 PM on April 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't know your background, or your interest in Inuit people, but if you are looking for answers here, it seems likely that you are not already connected to the culture. First Nations people are usually very offended by retellings of their stories by outsiders or appropriation of their culture by outsiders. If you have a connection to the culture, you should turn to an elder for guidance as far as how to tell these stories and what kind of introduction to use. If you don't know any Inuit elders, your project is going to be very disrespectful. Is that the tone that you're going for? If it's not the tone that you're going for, you should explore telling these stories without appropriating another culture's name.
posted by Skwirl at 1:46 AM on April 3, 2017 [9 favorites]

Best answer: If this were me, I'd be contacting the Nunavut Library Association and asking for the name of a good contact person on this. Agree with Skwirl, there are some cultural issues here that bear examination.
posted by jessamyn at 7:43 AM on April 3, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. The book is just a design exercise based on mid-century folk tale collections, and I probably haven't put as much thought into the content as I should have. It's not a real book so I haven't thought much about how real Inuit people would react to it. I realise now that I'm probably being culturally insensitive, and I'll do my best to be as respectful as possible.
posted by Chenko at 8:59 AM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

If it's any help, the story you use above as an example is, I think, originally from the book A Kayak Full of Ghosts by Lawrence Millman. You might check that book for ideas/inspiration. Here's an interview with the author. Google books says: "During the 1980s and 1990s, travel and adventure writer Millman collected stories from Northwest Territories, Baffin Island, northern Quebec, Labrador, [i.e. from Canada] and both coasts of Greenland. His goal is to reproduce the sense of the story rather than the original language, so he changes and even combines them."
posted by gudrun at 8:28 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

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