You know we all have our heroes of course, and as Inuit we also did have heroes. One of our greatest heroes was a man called Kitheeok. This man, you know, there is stories about him all over the north because Inuit inhabit almost the complete circumpolar world you know. There are Inuit in Siberia there are Inuit in Alaska there are inuit in you know all across northern Canada including northern Quebec and Labrador and there also are Inuit up in Greenland.
We all speak the same language even though, you know, the language changes a little bit as you go along cause the dialect the same language and we have the same culture. So we told the same stories. so when you traveled from, you know, all the way from Siberia to Greenland you can hear stories of Keetheeok, the very same person and I think that’s, you know, really, really fascinating.
So when I was a little kid you know I was told these stories and you hear stories about this very same guy and he’s a very big person in your mind, you know? So he was probably the very first hero a lot of us had.
It's kind of sad in a way, today if you go to a school like here and you go to a class and you ask, you know, the kids how many of them have heard of Kitheeok and, you know, some cases there’ll be a whole bunch of kids that never heard of this guy before. I think that’s really, really sad and that something that I'm trying to do something about.
You know there's one thing, you know, storytelling is an absolutely wonderful tradition and, you know, a lot of people want us to go out and document these stories to write them down and publish the stories. But if you do that, you know, the story ends up on the shelf, and if you don’t go out and tell the story then it might as well be dead. Storytelling is in the art of doing it, not just documenting it and putting it away.
The following stories are by Michael Kusugak.
This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections Initiative, Industry Canada.