Inuit Oral History and Project Naming
A multigenerational discussion of culture, history, and naming centring on archival photographs of Inuit whose names were previously unrecorded.
"Our names – Atiqput – are very meaningful. They are our identification. They are our Spirits. We are named after what's in the sky for strength, what’s in the water ... the land, body parts. Every name is attached to every part of our body and mind. Yes, every name is alive. Every name has a meaning. Much of our names have been misspelled and many of them have lost their meanings forever. Our Project Naming has been about identifying Inuit, who became nameless over the years, just "unidentified eskimos ..." With Project Naming, we have put Inuit meanings back in the pictures, back to life." Piita Irniq
For over two decades, Inuit collaborators living across Inuit Nunangat and in the South have returned names to hundreds of previously anonymous Inuit seen in historical photographs held by Library and Archives Canada as part of Project Naming. This innovative photo-based history research initiative was established by the Inuit school Nunavut Sivuniksavut and the national archive.
Atiqput celebrates Inuit naming practices and through them honours Inuit culture, history, and storytelling. Narratives by Inuit elders, including Sally Kate Webster, Piita Irniq, Manitok Thompson, Ann Meekitjuk Hanson, and David Serkoak, form the heart of the book, as they reflect on naming traditions and the intergenerational conversations spurred by the photographic archive. Other contributions present scholarly insights and research projects that extend Project Naming’s methodology, interspersed with pictorial essays by the artist Barry Pottle and the filmmaker Asinnajaq.
Through oral testimony and photography, Atiqput rewrites the historical record created by settler societies and challenges a legacy of colonial visualization.
“Atiqput brings together statements by Inuit artists, elders, and activists with work by project facilitators and scholars to produce a vibrant tapestry that at once mourns the losses of the past, treasures the traces that can be regained, and celebrates the continued power of Inuit cultural forms.” Peter Kulchyski, University of Manitoba and author of Report of an Inquiry into an Injustice: Begade Shutagot’ine and the Sahtu Treaty