First dictionary of rare Inuit dialect published

In August 1963, anthropologist Jean Briggs arrived in a remote Arctic outpost with enough freeze-dried food to make the locals wince at the imagined strain on their dog sled.

Briggs was in her 30s, and wanted to learn the culture and dialect of the Utkuhiksalingmiut, a once-nomadic Inuit people who then lived near Chantrey Inlet, N.W.T. (It’s now part of Nunavut.)

“I hated the culture I grew up with. I was just deliriously happy to be there,” says Briggs, 86, who still hates consumerism, doesn’t own a TV and only buys used clothing when a shirt has so many holes that it falls off. Her current nightshirt is from 2000.

She was adopted into the Kigeak family, and marvelled as they speared salmon in the rapids during spring, cut blocks of ice from the inlet in late September to create ice-walled houses, and built igloos when enough snow had fallen further north to make blocks.

Read more: The Star

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