[Indigenous People]

Arts and Crafts

For many centuries, the Inuit have used the materials around them to express their artistic abilities. Soapstone, baleen, ivory, wood, paper, skin and antler have all been used in the makings of traditional art. The Inuit elaborately carved or decorated many of the objects they used everyday. Needle casings, snow goggles, combs, pins and many other items were made from antler, bone or ivory. The Inuit decorated their clothing with sculpted pins, furs and dyed skins.

Since the 1950's traditional arts and crafts has been an important source of income for the Inuit. Forty-six percent of households are involved in this industry. Inuit soapstone and serpentine (greenstone) carvings and prints now have an international reputation. In addition to carving and print-making, Inuit artists produce drawings, paintings, embroidered, appliquéd or woven wall hangings and fur-trimmed and appliquéd coats.

Most of the traditional arts and crafts are sold through co-ops. Co-ops were initiated by the federal government in the late 1950's and early 1960's as a way of introducing the Inuit of the eastern Arctic to the money economy. They were initially involved in marketing Northern goods for both local consumption and export. Co-ops have received wide acceptance because they are economic institutions which are adaptable and responsive to the needs of the local people and consistent with the co-operative nature of traditional Inuit culture. Today co-ops are involved in retail operations merchandising food, dry goods, and hardware; service industries such as hotels, lodges and restaurants, water and petroleum delivery, taxi services and freight haulage, and the construction industry. Job creation is a priority for co-ops and they are the largest employer of native people

.  [Drumdancer] Drum dancer (61 KB)  [Muskoxen] Muskoxen (67 KB)

 [jewellery] Jewellery (25 KB)