"A flash point in Inuit memories": endangered knowledges in the Mountie sled dog massacre.
But a different sense of globalization in recent years has laid bare the vulnerability of our momentous partnership, nowhere perhaps more clearly than in the Canadian Arctic, where the working relationships of people and sled dogs made life possible for both, that is, until recent decades. In Inuktitut, the word qimmiit literally means "many dogs," (1) and, given their historic reliance on their packs working as teams with humans, the word builds into everyday Inuit terminology a special sense of multiplicity that is shared between this kind of canine and the people who have always been so much more to them than mere mushers. The devastation of Inuit culture through the rupture of these relations lies at the heart of the story of how qimmiit today has come to designate both a site of highly endangered knowledges about pre-contact life as well as a rallying point for collective resistance. Amid what David Harvey diagnoses as "the phase of neoliberal globalization" (35), Canadian Inuit efforts to record and honour an understanding of the sled dog as a vital link to life before and beyond market forces are adding an important dimension to a wide-ranging grassroots movement to reclaim the land and sea before they are plundered for shipping and resource extraction.
Within the past decade, through official investigations and an exceptionally unique truth commission project, the series of events popularly termed "the Mountie Sled Dog Massacre" has become documented, and more. Revealing the shameful history of the disappearance of these last remaining indigenous North American dogs from Canada's Eastern Arctic region, the independent Qikiqtani Truth Commission (QTC)'s website assembles first-hand accounts of how a unique kind of cross-species relationship becomes a flash point for the postwar interventions of the state into indigenous life there. One of several recent investigations of allegations that Canada led a systematic campaign in the mid-twentieth century to exterminate Inuit via their sled dogs, the QTC uncovers no smoking gun. Instead, as one of the few First-Peoples-initiated justice inquiries to date, the QTC innovatively structures collectively Inuit feelings for what it meant to have and to lose the dogs without whom self-sufficient life on their lands and waterways became impossible. It thus enables the articulation of an epistemological difference signaled in the title of the Inuit-produced documentary about the proceedings, Qimmiit: A Clash of Two Truths. Yet, irreconcilable differences between the official Canadian and lived Inuit versions of what caused the disappearance of the dogs are not the end of the story, at least according to the QTC.
Considering the myriad of ways that Inuit people have depended on these dogs, the story of qimmiijaqtauniq--meaning "many dogs (or dog teams) being taken away or killed," and frequently translated now as the Mountie Sled Dog Massacre or, more simply, "the dog slaughter" (QTC 24)--that emerges through the online records and reports of the QTC is exceptional for many reasons. The first Inuit-led and Inuit-sponsored initiative of its kind, the QTC not only makes public an oral history of exterminationist practice that has been officially denied, but it also accounts for how a community's dogs became explicitly identified and consequently feared as a threat to the colonizers. Including testimony from hundreds of Inuit about events concerning dogs that they describe as discrete packs intimately identified with particular people, the project prompts broader concerns about how abstracting notions like "the global animal"--not to mention the "breed" of the dogs in question, whose uniqueness long predates the science of animal husbandry--close down ways of seeing animal and human lives together as sources of political power and, more importantly, as limits to neoliberal globalization.
During the same period that philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari first touted the potentials for people becoming-animal with a pack or a "demonic multiplicity" to topple the psychic subject of capitalism (241), Inuit people living along with their packs of sled dogs appear to have been similarly identified with danger by the agents of expanding market forces, only in their case such associations largely led to separation and consequent victimization by the state, respectively in the name of becoming enfranchised voters or immunized animals. (2) Contemporary poststructuralist philosophy's ongoing celebrations of multispecies multiplicities as radically cosmopolitan agency forms may attempt to unsettle the dominion of the humanist subject, but the Inuit perspectives coordinated by the QTC articulate instead an inverse trajectory in which having become who they were through working partnerships with qimmiit actually set them up for exploitation as cheap labour once those ties were severed in settlements. Recovering the details of why and how great quantities of these dogs died therefore entails telling a more complex story of Canadian nationalism, capitalism, and globalization and along with it more theoretically nuanced and vibrantly mobile potentials for species life. In such narratives is embedded the hope of some of us in animal studies that the representation of human-animal relationships can be generative (Marvin and McHugh, forthcoming) and, in this case in particular, that stories impress visions that move beyond the forms of capitalist society.
Lamenting the ghost dog is not the QTC's point. Just as Inuit testators resist straightforward celebrations of qimmiit as demonic or menacing figures of multiplicity, they describe specific dog teams as present in their memories, as collective figures evoking specific emotions for people whose everyday lives with them are likewise gone. As such, the stories of their deaths cannot be reconciled to the model of "the animal specter" that Nicole Shukin identifies as lending deconstructive formulations an air of "compulsive inevitability" only to "drain animals of their historical specificity and substance" (138). (3) In reviewing how this situation has come to enable a particular kind of dog along with the culture defined by it to be perceived as heading for extinction by outsiders, it is important to note how, in glaring contrast, potentials for life, mobility, and action appear to grow through the stories shared within the community, with direct implications for the fates of Inuit people and sled dogs across Canadian provinces and in other countries like Greenland. Mapping the special features of this community narrative in what follows, I want to suggest further that there are much wider-reaching implications for human-animal storytelling as a means of resistance to exterminationist and other rhetorics of erasure. For the QTC's singular resistance to reduce the dogs to destroyed property requiring compensation lofts an interspecies version of Shukin's vision of "a heterogeneity of protesting subjects struggling to articulate alternatives to the present" (232), one that integrates humans, animals, and especially human-animal relationships as enabling movement beyond the killing fields of a haunted past.
The Federal government operated [in the mid-twentieth century] under the belief that traditional Inuit culture was doomed to extinction and that the best solution for all concerned would be to integrate them as quickly as possible into the Canadian "mainstream" by creating a healthier, better educated work force for future economic development. (emphasis added)
Inuit, Whalers, and Cultural Persistence
The difficulty for Qallunaat (non-Inuit) settlers to grasp the nature of the atrocity known as qimmiijaqtauniq begins to explain why it has taken so long for these events to gain national attention in Canada and why it remains little known abroad. Five years after the first formal requests to review this history at the national level were submitted by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the Makivik Corporation, (4) a Canadian House of Commons committee in 2005 listened to elders who testified that, "To diminish our numbers as Inuit, our dogs were being killed" by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) from the 1950s into the 1970s (Standing 1115). Under orders from Ottawa, the RCMP subsequently submitted to Parliament the 2006 Final Report: RCMP Review of Allegations Concerning Inuit Sled Dogs, summarizing a self-study that exonerated itself from the accusation that actions of its officers caused a precipitous decline of the dog population in the region especially during the 1960s, a disappearance that is not disputed by anyone.
Responsibility for qimmiit deaths, not their consequences for people, was the narrow focus of the RCMP's investigation. Ballyhooing terms like "a massive dog pogrom" and "a sled dog holocaust" (Taylor), the mainstream Canadian press accordingly entertained only to dismiss the possibility that something approximating a genocide occurred in the Northwest Territories (NWT) and Arctic Quebec in the twentieth century. Lost amid the hype is the key detail that the RCMP in its Final Report concedes that only eight Inuit are represented in the approximately one hunded and fifty eyewitness statements that they reviewed in order to draw their own conclusions (22). In short, Inuit versions of events were conspicuous by their absence from the official account of how the area's qimmiit disappeared.
Starting in 2007 to collect accounts from approximately three hundred and fifty Inuit through written testimonies and many more interviews and statements videotaped at public hearings, the QTC documents of qimmiijaqtauniq provide a compelling counter-narrative and, moreover, identify a motive that has been overlooked in all other accounts. Released in 2010, its Final Report explains, "Government records, police patrol reports, scholarly research, newspaper and magazine articles from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s show that dogs were killed in the Baffin Region often without due regard for the safety of and consequences on Inuit families and because Qallunaat were scared of dogs" (39). Never simply countering the RCMP's review of the facts, the QTC project paints a richer picture of the regional introduction of a disproportionately powerful minority charged with settling a historically nomadic people within spaces that once provided them with freedom, ironically in the name of assuring their political freedom to participate in federal democratic processes that largely failed to materialize. In the process, it also quietly outlines profoundly different views of human and animal life at stake in this fateful transition, more specifically, the differences peculiar to a kind of human-animal relationship that holds the potential to maintain a way out of entrapment in the market economy. (5)
When RCMP officers and other governmental officials shot dogs according to policies that were created with no Inuit input, independent hunters report that they were initially shocked and immobilized and thenceforth reduced to lives of dependency and menial service in settlements in which they were effectively silenced by a combination of fear of reprisals and grief for dogs whose identities were intimately intertwined with their own. Achieving Saimaqatigiingniq--peace with former enemies or, literally, "when past opponents get back together to meet in the middle to become calm and peaceful with one another after a conflict" (QTC 6)--is the QTC's overarching purpose. Beyond this immediate objective, more still can be learned from the ways in which the QTC's network co-ordinates human and canine stories against the foregone conclusion that their history is over.
The QTC's focus on QikIQtaaluk, formerly known as the Baffin region of eastern Arctic Canada, is one of the project's strengths because it is by far the area most intensely settled by the affected community during the time in question. Gathering the stories of often elderly eyewitnesses and their family members, many of whom were understandably reluctant to join the RCMP investigation, the QTC qualifies the numbers noted in other archives with detailed personal narratives of lives and livelihoods lost as a direct result of dogs being killed. Both the project and the stories remain irreducibly collective at every level, in part because no one laments the loss of any individual dog (qimmik) as an end in itself; instead, the focus remains on groups of dogs that traditionally are connected to a person providing for a small and family-centred community. Interstitially, the plurality of qimmiit takes shape as a missing membership, one that does not form fighting lines against so much as what Deleuze and Guattari term "lines of flight" away from lives that in quantity and quality became diminished by permanent settlement.
In a study that focuses on the emergence of a distinct political culture in the region, political scientist Alisa Henderson outlines the systematic disenfranchisement of the generations of Inuit who directly experienced qimmiijaqtauniq. Singled out from all other First Nations peoples in Canada, Inuit alone were denied the right to vote for decades by federal bureaucrats who paradoxically "portrayed [...] the grounds for their exclusion [...] as practical rather than ethnic" (67). She elaborates, "on the one hand, the federal government had acquired an obligation to negotiate with Aboriginal groups--with ethnically defined collective groups--about land claims, and, on the other, it employed rhetoric that prioritized individual rights over collective rights and suggested that ethnic boundaries were no basis for special treatment" (81). Consequently, the recent independence story of the largest native population inhabiting an area once included in the NWT could be told as an Eastern-Arctic Spring of sorts, in which democracy flowers with the formation of Nunavut--literally "our land"--except that the three-hundred-and-fifty-square-kilometre territory was anything but ceded in 1999 to Inuit residents as a result of the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (nlca). (6)
In these and other ways, the same forces enlisted to organize representative government came to undermine the Inuit's traditionally nomadic and communal culture, which was already troubled by a century of habituation to the whalers, Christian missionaries, and company stores that set up the overnight success of the fox fur trade by the early twentieth century. Subsequently, according to Henderson, policies were instituted to create the informed electorate that the Canadian government ostensibly desired. But these mandates also directly resulted in coercive and sometimes forced relocations of families to isolated settlements, the removal of children and their abuse in schools, and most visibly the destruction of qimmiit.
It is argued that another motive for these changes was the international-scale embarrassment for Canadian officials following the catastrophic collapse of the fox fur trade in the 1940s, when U.S. military serving in Arctic air stations that were established to move planes to aid the Allies reported an utter lack of services provided to starving and sick Inuit. The continuing postwar U.S. presence further "raised concerns about de facto Canadian sovereignty," according to a 1994 report on the relocations authored by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (quoted in Makivik 8). As practices instituted in the name of expanding human rights that more clearly served Cold War military interests, the relocation policies lend credence to more cynical interpretations because they ensured cheap "labor or 'company' for military" manning the radar stations of the Distant Early Warning Line that was erected in order to watch for incoming Soviet nuclear weapons (Sharpe 203). As the QTC testators explain, for Inuit these moves often were devastating and for their dogs they proved overwhelmingly fatal.
Many signs point to the ongoing settler legacy in the Eastern Arctic. Far closer to the averages in indigenous reserves across the southern border in the U.S. than to those of other Canadian communities, Nunavut's continuing high rates of school dropouts, joblessness, suicide, and other stark signals of colonization trouble celebrations of peaceful transition to home rule. Among Nunavut's Inuit majority, attempts to honour the enduring legacies of traditionally shared and sharing lifeways require a reframing of the story outside the terms of empire, more specifically, in the case of the QTC, the recasting of qimmiit-Inuit relationships from a source of shame and pain to a source of healing, strength, even cultural renewal.
An unsettling local history in every sense, the QTC's construction of the story of qimmiijaqtauniq compels a rethinking of how intimacies that roam between species trouble the very terms of globalization. One of several truth-and-reconciliation efforts of the sort identified by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri as a "symptom of passage" from national- to global-scale imperial forms, the QTC project might be expected to produce the singular truth of the multitude, by which Hardt and Negri mean the gathering forces of opposition to the global spread of capitalism. More complexly, though, the stories of qimmiijaqtauniq posit a representational challenge that involves not so much battling the capitalist subject as keeping open flight lines to a condition that precedes and exceeds the spheres of market economies, in whose interest it lies to render such formations physically and normatively extinct.
Decoupling the extinctionist ideologies that portend the end for Inuit dogs and cultures in Qallunaat histories following relocation to settlements, the stories of QTC testators extend and enrich the descriptions of academics, artists, and others referenced below of how carefully cultivated relations of mutuality operate as a cornerstone of Inuit culture. A recovery effort with far-reaching implications for the future of Nunavut, the creative constitution of a collective narrative that concerns more-than-human worlds thus frames an affirmative answer to Native American literary theorist Scott Richard Lyons's pressing question for Hardt and Negri:
"[I]s it possible today to envision the survival of indigenous identity, culture, and nationalization in a nonessentialistic manner?" (34). Positioning material relations of immanence--rather than those of spiritual transcendence--might seem an unusual route to this goal, but in so doing the QTC adds to a growing sense that cultures of the Arctic operate in accordance with a different metaphysics to that of their southern counterparts. (7) The next sections of this essay aim to clarify this point by situating testators' descriptions amid a wider range of accounts of the particularities of Inuit and qimmiit lives together, which help to explain the mechanisms as well as significance of their resilience.
That said, as an European-American animal narrative theorist studying these accounts from the Lower 48, I have become acutely aware of the hazards of extending a long and problematic history of outsiders in general who have represented northern cultures as "remote, strange, and 'natural' " (Sharpe 201) and of academics in particular who have institutionalized lies about the Inuit. (8) Long engaged with stories of Canis familiaris as our default accomplice in replacing wolves as the most widely-distributed four-footed creature around the globe, I entered this project wondering about how the uniquely shared human-canine relationship captured in the Inuktitut term qimutsiit, which refers to sled dogs and people as an irreducible team (QTC 21), has become a site of endangered knowledges. Learning along the way about how to live nomadically in the Arctic, in interdependence with dogs who are neither wholly domesticated nor feral but of necessity somewhere in between, I have come to agree with the QTC testators that there is much more to this project than memories of dogs being killed.
From Qimmiit to Qimutsiit: Arctic Dogs and Human-dog Teamwork
The Canadian Eskimo Dog [also known as qimmiit, or Inuit sled dog] is on the verge of extinction with estimates of three hundred or less pure CKC registered dogs left in the World. (emphasis added)
CEDF: Canadian Eskimo Dog Foundation website
Because the polar bear is widely seen as the iconic image of the endangered Arctic environment, it was no surprise that the newly formed government of Nunavut initially opted to maintain a version of the NWT's trademark nanuq-outline licence plate. Less predictably, in 2000, the territory's legislators voted for qimmiit as the official animal symbol of Nunavut. One of the earliest political gestures of the new assembly, this decision remains largely symbolic because this kind of dog is far outnumbered by all other animals in the new territory. More a tribute to the sled dog's historic significance as a partner in independence for Nunavut's people, it also honours the fragile interdependence of culture and environment (if not of local memory and global conservation efforts) that has become embodied in what is now the rarest registered breed of dog in the world.
"Breed" is a dubious way to define these dogs, and not simply because current genetic research identifies evidence of a consistent, pre-Columbian maternal lineage that both belies the modern breed divisions of qimmiit into Inuit sled dog, Canadian Eskimo dog, and Greenland dog, as well as separates "this group of dogs" as distinct from all others (van Asch et al.). Pace historian Harriet Ritvo's argument that the modern notion of breed began innocuously with the eighteenth-century documents of English foxhound pedigrees, the institutionalization by national kennel clubs of names like "Inuit sled dog" and "Canadian Eskimo dog" underscores how biopolitical regulations of these dogs' bodies continuously extend colonialist and racist projects. To understand exactly what happened to these dogs in the NWT, however, it may help to follow the lead of race and animality theorist Kalpana Seshadri to focus on breed as a eugenicist phantasm, in the sense of an "ontological essence" expressed in "the violent extirpation of human or animal identity (or property) that was never fully possessed to begin with" (xvi). In the case of Canadian qimmiit, breed status emerges as a weirdly compensatory gesture, one that follows from changing practices that define different potentials for human, animal, and human-animal relationships.
Before the advent of snowmobiles, qimmiit were viewed as essential to Inuit lifeways. For an Arctic people who traditionally did not use snowshoes or skis, qimmiit provided a crucial means of mobility and along with it a source of livelihood, protection, and even identity as they continue to do in Greenland today. For reasons developed below, conflicting views of these dogs map readily onto insider/outsider cultural positionings, but all who have experience living with them agree that such dogs are not stereotypically dependent companion animals, nor are they akin to the free-ranging street dogs who are fixtures of urban histories. Rather, Inuit sled dogs thrive in a special sort of working partnerships of people and dogs, enabled by highly specialized adaptations to subsistence living in the Arctic. How they will continue to do so remains an open question.
Registered under the unfortunate name "Canadian Eskimo dog" by the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), (9) the few hundred so-called purebred qimmiit remaining of the twenty thousand estimated to have lived in the NWT a century ago are largely credited with having been "saved" from absorption into the mixture of breeds accompanying Qallunaat settlers to the NWT by the dedicated efforts of a handful of enthusiasts. Coinciding with the end of qimmijaqtaunIQ, the jointly government- and territory-sponsored Eskimo Dog Research Foundation's efforts began in 1972 and are rivaled only by those of the Canadian Eskimo Dog Foundation (CEDF)'s Brian Ladoon, whose story of starting a little later in the 1970s and amassing the largest genetic stock colony of qimmiit is the subject of the 2011 documentary film The Dogs of Winter. Utterly reliant on "Inuit who owned good dogs and sold them" to support the cause (Montcombroux 13), these organizations attest to an acute Qallunaat awareness of the devastation of Inuit dog populations and to a suspicious silence about culpability for its causes as well as consequences for Inuit people. Rather, the CEDF website melodramatically laments that, with "estimates of three hundred or less pure CKC registered dogs left in the World," its own work is a last-ditch effort against "extinction" of this particular kind of canid, despite the fact that the greatest problems with keeping such dogs among people are cultural.
Partly the challenge in living among qimmiit is that the very qualities that make these dogs distinct ensure that they will not be easy dogs to home, in the contemporary sense of placement as the pet of a stereotypic nuclear family. Traditionally never tied except in harness, Inuit left dogs to fend for themselves during periods when their work was not required for specific tasks like portage and hauling, practices that favoured dogs self-selected to thrive in feral-domestic borderlands. Unlike lighter-boned breeds preferred in modern sled dog racing, qimmiit are not that kind of elite athlete so much as all-around survivors.
Genetic studies fail to support fantasies that qimmiit are wolf-dog hybrids, but their tendency to wolf anything resembling food, their eerie wolf-like vocalizations, and their somewhat wolfish appearance ensure that the longstanding stories of their essential wildness linger on. Turn-of-the-twentieth-century European explorer Otto Sverdrup waxes poetic as he attempts to capture what makes this kind of dog so special: "It has the persistence and tenacity of a wild animal, and at the same time the domestic dog's admirable devotion to its master. It is the wildest breath of nature, and the warmest breath of civilization" (18). More prosaic descriptions identify qimmiit as extremely active as well as highly reactive to any stimuli--qualities guaranteed to make them either neurotic pets in urban landscapes or excellent company in bear country--and as highly social with their own pack and people, although aloof with outsiders. With this qualification in mind, the characterization of qimmiit as "primitive" in the CKC's official breed description may be intended as both a compliment to a kind of dog that is unilaterally praised for superior physical and mental fortitude, as well as a warning to prospective owners, who are further advised that they are at best "a companion for adults, and [...] not to be considered a child's pet." Yet such descriptions also naturalize the dogs at the expense of valuing the culture that maintained them.
Managing dogs is a central component of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ), alternately referred to as Inuit Traditional Knowledge or Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Because qimmiit provide invaluable support for hunting large and formidable animals like seals, caribou, and polar bears, skilful handling is so essential to IQ that it maintained an Inuk's high social value, even his masculinity, within his culture. "In the past, a man without dogs wasn't a man," according to Paulusie Weetaluktuk of Inukjuak, an elder cited in the Makivik Corporation's report that inspired the RCMP inquiry (3). Hunters needed dogs in order to become heroes, and dogs needed hunters in order to become something more than easy prey for hungry people and other large mammals.
Exactly how they came together to work so successfully has not been easily or comprehensively documented, making the QTC archives a treasure trove of information about this aspect of Inuit lifeways. Papikattuq Sakiagaq of Salliut offers an exemplary description, cited at length in the Makivik report:
[I]n our customs there were a lot of regulations, though it seems typical that the Inuit don't have regulations, but in spite of that assumption, we did have a lot of regulations. For example, in raising a dog team, while they're still puppies we had to stretch the legs, and rub their underarms, tickle them in order for them to get used to the harness [...]. While they're becoming adolescent dogs, we would have to take them for walks with their harnesses on. If they are not tamed that way, they cannot become anything. I mentioned about tickling because when they are harnessed they are irritated if they were not tamed in this way while they're still puppies, and they are not comfortable to run if they are not used to being stretched on their forepaws, and feeding them with soup, making sure that they don't get into the habit of being hungry [...] that was how it was. (12)
Included along with all of the early testimonies in the QTC archives, Sakiagaq's recollections here explicitly begin by calling attention to (mis) perceptions of the discipline of traditional sled-dog training, not to mention the ways in which the conservation of such knowledges hinges on cultural and cross-cultural perceptions.
No such detailed descriptions are included in cultural anthropologist Kerrie-Ann Shannon's contemporaneous study of traditional knowledges of dogs in an unnamed Northwest Hudson Bay Inuit community, which seems marked by her likewise unnamed informants' reticence. "Frequently, respondents did not reveal the names of dogs they had owned in the past," part of a pattern that Shannon accounts for as one of the kinds of traditional knowledges that are not shared with non-kin. While Shannon's study includes no mention of the dog slaughter as another silencing factor (to be fair, it was conducted in the mid-1990s, when outsiders could see no basis for the Inuit-initiated inquiries then just beginning), it identifies and attempts to address sled-dog training as a huge gap in scholarly understanding of the culture, especially given the "great amount of traditional knowledge being built up around the subject of dogs [... and] dog teams." Even to describe this terrific sense of interdependence when times were good appears to have always been a formidable challenge to the imaginations of Qallunaat observers, who return almost compulsively to particular, lived examples in order to convey their sense of wonder at the achievements and risks that such relations entail.
Glimpsing what such a life entailed in the early decades of the twentieth century, U.S. artist and writer Rockwell Kent's account of his years living among Inuit people (whom he calls "Greenlanders") around a Danish colonial trading post in his 1935 memoir Salamina illustrate the centrality of highly skilled work with sled dogs as a necessary survival skill. He describes a wise hunter named David encountering dangerously thin ice and stopping the sled in order to lead the way home on foot:
I have spoken of the obedience of Greenland dogs at such a time: it is impressive. David with a low whistle would signal them to stop. They would instantly halt and lie down, watching him placidly as he went ahead in the darkness [to test the thickness of the ice]. At another almost whispered sign they'd jump to their feet again and set out after him, again to halt at his low sign. (182)
On treacherous ice, it is not a bullying style of command but rather the quiet understanding shared between the human and animal members of a qimutsiit that proves essential to safe passage, just as it is to successful hunts for the winter staple of seal. Then, as today, the whip is viewed as "an important part of training dog teams" (Shannon), but it is also used sparingly, because (through the aesthete's eyes, at least) "nonchalance and effortlessness in driving are established as good form" (Kent 192). Dogs in harness may be brought into line, but like modern guide dogs they are encouraged to exhibit "intelligent disobedience," or the refusal to follow a command that might lead to the endangerment of the person issuing it (McHugh 53). Working in a team, qimmiit additionally can exhibit this intelligence like a bird flock, as if sharing one mind, a tendency as likely to inspire awe as terror in people. (10)
Because they are deliberately stripped of melodrama, the scenes of Salamina highlight how such fragile dependencies are central to the old communal lifeways--lifeways that Kent prefers to the elusive "Progress" promised by colonial and later global trade systems, despite his detailing of many examples of how (as the QTC testators say again and again) life on the land was never easy. In Greenland then as today, occasionally an unwary person falls prey to the working dogs, simply by falling down among them (Gottleib and Misfeldt 2824), just as in the past people in dire situations turned their dogs into food." At the crux of the story, Kent himself skirts death when lost in thick fog on melting sea ice, only to be saved by his dogs. The homing instinct frequently noted in descriptions of qimmiit is all the more incredible in this situation because, as Kent notes, those particular dogs "never before traveled within many miles of the route we that day followed. I spoke of it to [another Inuit hunter named] Rudolf the next day. 'Yes,' said Rudolf, 'good dogs know' "(288). Underscoring the hazards of the subsistence hunter's life, such details also paint a vivid portrait of what it takes from both people and qimmiit in order to "fit that life" (332), a quality presented by Kent as hard-won, enviable, and for people like him ultimately elusive.
Outsiders like Kent can buy established teams of qimmiit, but acquiring the IQ to raise them to the tasks of providing for one's own community is the work of a lifetime. The QTC Final Report cites Pangnirtung resident Pauloosie Veevee's eloquent description of how hunters were judged on the basis of if their dogs "looked well-fed and well-mannered" because the assumption was that the "performance, appearance, health, and endurance" were distributed across the species lines of qimutsiit; keeping a dog team was not for every man, but not doing so left the impression that "he was not yet quite a man," for without one he could not be much of a hunter (21). Such a deep sense of identification between dog and man left an Inuk psychologically, physically, and socially vulnerable when harm would come to his team, for Inuit culture placed the highest importance on their mutual success.
Part hunting buddies, part survival tools, qimmiit were never simply the property of hunters, who necessarily would care for generations of dog families deeply integrated with their own, functioning as elders beyond the conventional species boundaries. Bonds were forged from the earliest days of both puppies' and children's lives, and the Makivik Report notes that "Many of the elders interviewed noted that as children, they had spent much time playing with puppies" (12). The memoir of early twentieth-century missionary Samuel King Hutton of his stay in Labrador describes how even an outsider can see how a sense of mutuality becomes ingrained: "The boys train the puppies, and teach them how to do dogs' work; and the training is a training for the boys as well, for they copy all the tricks and mannerisms [... that] they see their fathers do in the real work of the daily life" (178). Playing with puppies was a mainstay of Inuit childhood for the practical reasons that each became well versed in their roles and their particular inter-specific relationships to each other.
Not in spite of but because the dogs remain dangerous to anyone who is slightly built or otherwise appearing weak, those early bonds were necessary because they ensured the socialization of particular dogs and people to each other. "Our dogs used to be gentle to our children because they recognized them as part of the family," observes David Oovaut of Quaqtaq (quoted in Makivik 12). Free-ranging dogs not only stuck around people they recognized as food providers from their earliest memories but also sounded the alarm when they perceived intruders, whether human or nonhuman animals, and therefore contributed to tremendously important safety systems for living in remote locations.
Before the twentieth century, Inuit most often chose to live in kinship-defined groups of at most thirty people accompanied by a slightly larger numbers of dogs. Only with the intensification of the fox fur trade in the early twentieth century were dogs kept in teams of ten or more (Graburn 129). The logistics of providing for--let alone keeping order among--ten times as many dogs as people appear to have been enabled by their customary geographic dispersal, along with very precisely cultivated sentiments. Kent elaborates that qimmiit "like their masters and they don't too much hate man. [Reciprocally, m]en like their dogs. [...] They don't love dogs. That is perhaps a blessing to the Greenland dog and an expression of men's common sense" (190).
A far cry from Jack London's fictional sled dog Buck discovering "genuine passionate love"--a kind of "love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness," for his "master" in the Klondike a generation earlier (50)--Kent's description speaks more realistically of the unique way in which dogs and people maintained working relationships with each other.
Neither pampered pets nor entirely free-ranging dogs, qimmiit traversed in-between spaces, functioning as powerful dogs fed in exchange for seasonal work for humans and all the while talking any opportunity to forage. Dogs themselves were eaten as a second-to-last resort, just before eating leather and fur clothes, which dogs could also be counted on to steal away with and eat at all times, given any chance. Working in Sugluk in the 1950s and 1960s, anthropologist Nelson Graburn notes that many elders' stories highlight periods of starvation, noting "the loyalties and hostilities revolving around food" as characteristic of "a kind of life we and the younger Eskimos cannot even imagine" (38), except when observing dogs. The downtime of qimmiit, loose and out of harness, would be occupied chiefly with looking to keep themselves fed and to maintain their places in a pack, which means frequently fighting.
For Qallunaat, this aspect makes them particularly scary. Kent relays, "Grown dogs are best avoided, though if one walks straight at them with a manly stride they'll generally slink away" (190). Even in harness they are not to be trifled with. Hutton describes stumbling over the dogs' traces "and the whole team was on me with a pounce"; he is saved from "snarling, fighting dogs" only by the quick action of their "shouting, kicking drivers," who then instruct him "never to go among the dogs" without holding a whip (63). It seems likely that their stories feature happy endings because both narrators have learned enough Inuktitut to be able to be taught how to avert danger.
In contrast, as the QTC Final Report notes, the overwhelming majority of Qallunaat who came to the NWT during the period of qimmiijaqtauniq stayed at most for three years, "some for an adventure, but almost all as a way to advance their careers quickly," and therefore saw no reason to learn the local language or customs (28). Even more directly contributing to the setting and enforcing of policies that proved socially destructive to Inuit, the wilful ignorance of the outsiders would also seem to ensure that Qallunaat would be menaced by qimmiit, if only in their imaginations. Emerging through the QTC's telling of the history of qimmiijaqtauniq is this terrific sense of power in the relationships of qimutsiit as enhanced within traditional Inuit groups but then becoming a point of vulnerability when these groups were relocated to the larger, mixed communities characteristic of settlements.
From Qimutsiit to Qimmiijaqtauniq: Killing Teams
Born of a culture of hunters more than gatherers, the old Inuit ways favour the sharing of resources as the surest path to making a living off the unforgiving Arctic land and sea. In conditions where meat is a mainstay as well as a difficult thing to procure and cache, it is not simply an altruistic act but more importantly a collective survival strategy to distribute food across one's own group, which includes their dogs. Mobility is the mainstay of all nomadic peoples, and traditional Inuit life without dogs meant no way to get across the snow and ice to hunting and fishing grounds in a country that provides precious little non-animal foodstuffs.
Consequently, the loss of dogs for any reason amid relocation to settlements that were otherwise approachable only by planes and later snowmobiles became indistinguishable from subjection to a concentrationcamp-style existence. The QTC Final Report notes,
[M]any men were unable to hunt after their qimmiit were killed because they were simply stuck in the settlement. Others were fortunate enough to be able to share dog teams with close family members and, by the late 1960s, some people were using snowmobiles. Those Inuit who lacked qimmiit or snowmobiles to access the land felt that life in the settlements was a form of imprisonment. (16)
Not all of the dogs were killed by human outsiders. Qimmiit showed little resistance when exposed to deadly diseases that caused major outbreaks before inoculation campaigns were instituted by the RCMP, not so much ironically as coincidentally because it was a practice that likewise benefited Qallunaat dogs like the Siberian huskies favoured by the RCMP.
Quite apart from these predictable consequences of contact with non-Inuit dogs, many more deaths followed from policies that enabled the control of humans through their dogs. Some Inuit shot their own dogs in advance of relocation when informed that the teams would be prohibited or unworkable in the settlements, and others evacuated for medical treatment were forced to abandon their teams on short notice (QTC 21). Still others had guns put in their hands and were commanded to shoot their own dogs. But more testators recount how subtle strategies of coercion sealed their fates. Seduced by promises of jobs, housing with indoor plumbing, and education that would lead children to a better life, altogether too late they realized that they lost far more than they ever imagined they could gain. As Padloping native Jacopie Nuqingaq succinctly explains of the family's relocation to QikIQtarjuac, "When we got here, our dogs were slaughtered, and we had no choice" (13).
How exactly the dogs came to be slaughtered within settlements involves an equally complex convergence of factors, as the QTC clarifies. Amid the many pressures to assimilate, it becomes more readily understandable that some Inuit attempted compromises, for instance, to supplement life on the land with wage income during off seasons, a plan that precariously hinged on both flexible employment as well as the adaptation of qimmiit to settlement life. All too often hunters who became wage-labourers stopped feeding their dogs within the settlements, only not seasonally as in the past but when they inevitably ran out of time and meat to keep them properly. Amid the steadily growing crowds, a new situation emerged.
Some dogs must have starved, but, because opportunistic scavenging outdoors year-round is part of the qimmiit way of life, leaving such animals to fend for themselves around houses and dumps was not an automatic death sentence. Indeed, the QTC cites a Japanese anthropologist as concluding from direct observations in 1959 that such practices were "perfectly reasonable" (22), because the dogs were sure to die without the chance to forage and they cleaned up meat scraps and other garbage that otherwise attracted more fearsome wildlife like bears and wolverines. For RCMP officers and others charged with maintaining public order, however, these advantages were outweighed by the significant risks of living around semi-feral qimmiit on their own terms.
Citing evidence that dogs were shot "by the hundreds [and] perhaps thousands," the QTC Final Report again identifies a major factor to be "Qallunaat [who] considered the dogs to be a danger to inhabitants" (22). The RCMP's Final Report lends credence to the fear factor with descriptions like the following: "The Inuit sled dog is a large and aggressive animal that can pose a danger to public safety, particularly when diseased or starving" (14). Still, there were RCMP members working in the region during the early years of the time in question who owned and cared for sled dogs and clearly recognized the value of qimmiit; some officers provided their own husky dogs' pups to Inuit families left destitute when their dogs died, and (as noted above) they inoculated thousands of Inuit dogs to fight their abundantly clear decimation from disease. Yet the RCMP report notes too that the period in question was one in which the government was phasing out sled dogs from official duties (15), which makes it an open question whether or not the presence of Inuit sled dogs became equally devalued by Qallunaat as these changes took effect.
A series of regulations instituted under the Ordinance Respecting Dogs, the laws authorizing qimmiijaqtauniq, ranged from coercive to confusing from Inuit perspectives. (12) The requirements to tie or muzzle loose dogs on pain of ruinously high fines to be paid within very short allowances of time seem lifted straight from more overtly colonial contexts in which the effect similarly is to privilege non-Aboriginal dogs and to make it virtually impossible for indigenous people to move into settlements while maintaining dogs in the old ways/3 In the area that became Nunavut, these policies moreover reflect at best ignorance of and at worst an active menace to local lifeways, such as the dogs' need to have their muzzles free to eat snow in order to hydrate themselves, never mind protect themselves from predators. And Inuit testimony that dogs entitled to a period of impounding instead were often shot point-blank, sometimes in harness, contributes to a lingering sense of resentment.
Even for Inuit trying to follow the letter of the law, tying their dogs was not a viable option. Chains were not only expensive and often unavailable, they were also destructive to dogs whose social and other intelligences are sharpened by the ability to stay free-ranging in their time out of harness. The QTC clarifies, "Inuit were particularly critical of Qallunaat who had no knowledge of the impact of chaining dogs on the behaviour of working animals" (24), but there is evidence that some knew well what the outcome would be. The Makivik report includes the following quote from Northern Service officer W. G. Kerr's letter dated 1960: "I personally do not think that 'wandering' dogs create any greater hazard than does the normal automobile traffic of southern Canada.[...] It is also my experience that a tied-up dog, if approached by children, is more dangerous than a 'wandering' one" (11). Far less able to fend for themselves, and far more vulnerable to attacks by dogs and other animals, tied dogs also tire more easily in harness, as many testators note. It does not take much familiarity with dogs to guess how many formerly free dogs put in chains became neurotic, self-destructive, and otherwise unworkable.
What does remain unfathomable particularly to eyewitnesses is why many dogs kept in compliance with the Ordinance Respecting Dogs were also shot. Igloolik resident Thomas Kublu's story is illustrative:
In the spring of 1965 while I was at work all my dogs which were chained up were shot.[...] I never understood why this happened. I thought, "Was it because my hunting was getting in the way of my time as a labourer?" [...] This was very painful to me as I needed to hunt and because I was alone with no relatives to help me out with my responsibilities as a hunter and wage earner.[...] Since I had grown up hunting with a dog team and I so enjoyed hunting, a major part of my livelihood was taken away from me, my identity and means of providing for my family. (23)
Fleshing out the general sense of dog killing as a form of punishment for Inuit, this story helps to explain why the testimonies given as part of the QTC often include versions of the sentiment, "I remember the day my dogs were shot" or "I remember when my father's dogs were shot," as well as why these lines are frequently spoken "through tears" (23).
The RCMP officers' descriptions of killing loose dogs help to explain why these scenes still traumatize people fifty years later. Retired Staff Sergeant Mort Doyle laconically recollects, "It was unpleasant as the first shot very rarely killed the dog outright" (19). For Inuit, the incidents additionally mark the moments at which poverty became destitution, if also sometimes the motive for an endangered community to rally together. "It came to a point where I couldn't even sleep at night trying to keep the dogs alive," reported Eli Qumaaluk of Puvirnituq, as cited in the Makivik report: "We used to watch out for each other's dogs and avoided getting them shot and killed and that is how we limited the killing of our dogs" (15).
Reports of more indirect measures lend credence to the conclusion that the culture was in the crosshairs along with the dogs. Another QTC testator, Kaujak Kanajuk of Pond Inlet, vividly remembers that qimmiit were an explicitly forbidden topic for children in school: "We weren't allowed to draw dogs or tell stories about them, anything that had something to do with being Inuk, about igloo or anything" (19). Of course, such details pale in contrast to recollections of the severe physical abuse meted out to children who failed to learn English quickly, not to mention the psychological and other sufferings of children isolated from their families and sent to live with southern Qallunaat or of families forced to relocate to settlements often too quickly to pack survival gear and simply because they refused to be separated from their children. Presented by the QTC together with testimonial evidence of these and other atrocities, however, the attempts to erase knowledges of qimmiit marks a tipping point for a generation promised opportunities for better lives but provided instead with experiences that "left them ill-prepared for a life of self-reliance and self-determination in either the modern wage economy or the traditional economy" (20).
"A flash point in Inuit memories" according to the QTC Final Report (23), qimmiijaqtauniq illuminates one of the most controversial and coercive settlement tactics for relocating people from traditional Inuit life on the land. For people who, less than a century ago, lived largely on the move in small, kin-based, and self-sufficient groups between ilagiit nunagivaktangit (a term that encompasses seasonal camps along with special places like family burial grounds or particularly favourable hunting areas [QTC 6]), relocation to permanent communities of strangers and settlement in relationships overwhelmingly defined by institutionalized dependency was felt as a form of incarceration, and more. Disturbing the platitude that Inuit went from "the stone age to the space age in one generation" (Henderson 168), the QTC voices this transition first-hand in terms of a kind of slow violence that was inaugurated by the deaths of the dogs and that inspires the wide-ranging grassroots response manifested by this unique truth commission years after their culture and its canine companions are said to be condemned to extinction. (14) Moreover, by creating an archive through which Inuit can assemble, share, and otherwise come to grips with their own history for years to come, the QTC models an Aboriginal-led rarity among comprehensive social justice inquiries, one that forges important new links to futures in which knowledges of interspecies life are no longer endangered.
Spectres of Multitudes
"[G]radually, most of the dogs faded into history. And on came the onslaught of skidoos," according to retired Superintendent Clare Dent, as cited in the RCMP's Final Report (19). Painted in shades of nostalgia, his is a view that tellingly pits machine against animal in a scene featuring no people, a story that sounds too good to be true only when contextualized amid the stories assembled by the QTC. Such juxtapositions point to the profound dangers of outsiders naturalizing the separate "extinctions" of Inuit dogs and culture in lieu of identifying the globalizing forces that imperil survival outside market economies.
Working in the 1950s and 1960s in a community where he witnessed the number of dog teams drop from thirty-five to one within a decade, Graburn offers more details about the effects on Inuit culture of the introduction of the snowmobile, including that hunts were greatly reduced in frequency, scale, and nature, for instance, because walrus was no longer needed as dog food. In exchange, people gained new risks like getting lost, stranded, or frostbitten on a "machine [that] cannot smell its way home [or ...] be eaten in emergency" and that proves both ruinously expensive and unreliable (162). Still, the numbers indicate that machines are what people chose to replace, not their dogs. Speaking to Graburn at a time retrospectively identifiable as the height of qimmiijaqtauniq, an unnamed Inuk informant elaborates: "a strange sickness visited the teams every few years cutting down the numbers and causing great hardship" (44). Maybe his description is not meant to be metaphorical, but it certainly lodges a protest within the narrative of skidoos as simply replacing qimmiit in the area that became Nunavut, albeit one that can only be read as such retrospectively amid the collective story of the QTC.
Across the Davis Strait, hunters in Greenland's Inuit community enjoy exclusive access to the world's largest national park, covering 699,998 square kilometres or a third of the country, provided that their only overland means of transport is dogsledding. These carefully cultivated conditions begin to explain the huge disparity in numbers between the few hundreds of qimmiit said by the breed enthusiasts to be surviving in Nunavut and the tens of thousands of their kind in Greenland today, which recently have been biologically redefined as the same dog, Canisfamiliaris borealis, notwithstanding the breeders' interests in keeping them apart (Brown et al. 106). It would be tempting to conclude that traditional practices maintain the best hedges against the encroachments of global capital, except that these situations remain far from stable.
Although there may be "considerably more dogs than people in the 'dog districts' of Greenland" (Montcombroux 93), strikingly different perceptions of these present conditions point to ongoing adaptations to the dictates of settlement within these Inuit communities as well. With lurid photographs and visitors' accounts depicting chained sled dogs as starving, dehydrated, and mutilated, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has launched a campaign to encourage tourists to boycott Greenland, casting a long shadow over a future of an Inuit independence movement that therefore might never be supported by the projected cash influxes from international visitors. Instead, as Icelandic novelist Andri Snaer Magnason opines, multinational corporations like Alcoa (incidentally a significant contributor to Iceland's 2008 economic collapse) view untapped mineral- and oil-rich Greenland as "ten to a hundred Klondikes [...], just waiting to be opened up" through all-too-familiar promises of jobs and other short-term economic gains (121). To say the least, these circumstances indicate that integration in the global economy is a precarious bet for Inuit sled dogs and people alike.
In Nunavut, the more immediate problems of large-scale human suffering that continues as a result of the transition to settlement life begin to explain why there is no mention of qimmiit in the concluding recommendations of the QTC Final Report. Instead, the case is made in an editorial published in The Fan Hitch: The Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International for the Canadian government to "encourage action be taken to secure a place for the Inuit Dog in Arctic Canada, while the gene pool is still viable and knowledgeable elders are still available to consult," and more precisely, to "extend the necessary support to an Inuit-generated program which will assure a future for the Inuit Sled Dog in the north" (Hamilton). And for Inuit people?
In 2011, an agreement signed between Quebec's provincial government and the Makivik Corporation indicates some movement forward along these lines. Premier Jean Charest issued an official apology for the slaughter of Inuit sled dogs. Plaques were installed in each of the Inuit communities of that province to commemorate the tragedy. And Makivik has indicated that part of the restitution monies will be used to organize sled dog races in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Quebec.
Across the border in Nunavut, these are not the outcomes sought by the QTC. Elijah Grey, a resident of Kangirsuk, indicates why: "Personally, I believe we can get the dog teams back if we try. However we can never get back the same ways the dogs had at that time. I think we would not be able to train the dogs properly as in today's world I don't think we could give them an undivided attention as we used to in the past" (quoted in Makivik 24). Restitution in the broadest sense is not an option for lives once shared so intimately between species. What remains instead is to articulate the vulnerabilities as well as to assert the strengths of lives shared with qimmiit and in so doing to reassert the community values long adapted to local survival, all of which has been spurred by the QTC's efforts.
In search of Saimaqatigiingniq, Nunavut's Inuit have created a collaborative project that reflects and reinforces their culture's unique and historic engagement with sled dogs. In the process of recording a tragic history, the project also collects and details knowledges that are not otherwise noted in the literature. "It was a great pleasure to travel by dog team," explains Peter Stone of Kuujjuaraapik (quoted in Makivik 17), a sentiment reinforced again and again by others who see no contradiction in their interdependence with dogs as securing their independence from the modern wage economy.
Distinct from the conventional truth-and-reconciliation structures ordinarily erected in pursuit of human rights or environmental justice, as well as from Greenland's policies meant to ensure a continuity of sorts in hunting with qimmiit, the QTC documents the rupture and recovery of the value of human-canine interspecies intersubjectivity at the heart of its culture. Thus it lofts hopes alongside warning of dangers for a multispecies version of Hardt and Negri's multitude, namely, that human-animal relationships felt as historic and vital to a nomadic culture can provide important material as well as ideological means of mutual escape from the forces of settlement that would otherwise will them to enslavement and eradication.
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Gordon, Robert. "Fido: Dog Tales of Colonialism in Namibia." Canis Africanis: A Dog History of Southern Africa. Eds. Lance von Sittert and Sandra Swart. Boston: Brill, 2008. 173-92.
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University of New England
(1) This is the translation of the term favoured in the film Qimmiit: A Clash of Two Truths, although the term conventionally is interpreted as simply the plural "dogs" As noted, all other translations of Inuktitut terms are from the Qikiqtani Truth Commission's QTC Final Report: Achieving Saimaqatigiingniq.
(2) This is not to say that their model is thus proven wrong. As I argue in Animal Stories, Deleuze and Guattari reject from the start the animal's exclusion from language and representation, for such positions ultimately submit to the problem of being a human animal as it is posited by language. Many misinterpret becoming-animal as a defining property internalized by the human, but taken at its word their formulation of animality instead pervades all forms of agency, permeating language, literature, and every living thing potentially engaged with processes of becoming.
(3) On this point, I agree more with Shukin's critIQue of Derrida than of Akira Lippit, whose emphasis on processes of mediation suggest a more dynamic production of the "animetaphor" to allow for live alternatives.
(4) The Qikiqtani Inuit Association focuses on Nunavut, an Inuit-majority territory now formally separated from Canada's Northwest Territories, and the Makivik Corporation represents Inuit in the Arctic Quebec region of Nunavik.
(5) It did not always work that way. In People of the Deer, Farley Mowat interviews survivors who explain how the generational loss of knowledge of caribou hunting following the switch to trapping for export made the collapse of the fox fur economic bubble calamitous for Inuit who had more dogs in order to run trap lines yet suffered mass starvation when traders failed to return to their posts.
(6) The nlca includes a controversial extinguishment clause, a mechanism by which Aboriginal peoples cede any title claims to the land, "often to receive the much-needed economic benefits associated with settlement and the right to develop and co-manage lands and other resources," and governments in turn frame "comprehensive claims as fundamentally contractual matters, despite the fact that treaties and comprehensive land agreements now have constitutional status and protection" in Canada (Asch and Zlotkin 211). I thank my anonymous reviewer for clarifying this point.
(7) Recovering a specifically Siberian Yukaghir sense of animal spectres, anthropologist Rane Willerslev pursues the latter route as he reframes animism in terms of an "indigenous metaphysics" that deeply unsettles "ontological certainties" and therefore signals an opportunity for "critical dialogue" concerning Arctic and southern "theories of knowledge" (3).
(8) On this history and the potential for academics to correct the damage, see especially John Steckley's unpacking of three major "white lies" told by leading anthropologists like Franz Boas.
(9) Officially adopted in 1977 at the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Inuit literally means "the people" and is preferred by them to the vague, colonialist, and otherwise objectionable term "Eskimo" (Montcombroux 5). Inuk ("a person") is the singular form of Inuit.
(10) Montcombroux offers several examples of Inuit sled dogs refusing to advance over thin ice, overriding wrong directions in a blizzard (50), and generally ex-habiting "a certain independent stubbornness [that] makes [each dog] evaluate an order as if he was really weighing the pros and cons before obeying it" (73).
(11) As in many recordings of Inuit life histories, in a warm winter when the ice takes too long to form, people facing starvation "are driven to devour their dogs" (Kent 154).
(12) For instance, the QTC Final Report notes that requiring dog handlers to have surpassed "the age of maturity, 16, was meaningless [... because, f]or Inuit, maturity was measured by abilities, not age" (23).
(13) See for instance Robert Gordon's account of the 1922 Bondelswarts Rebellion in colonial Namibia, sparked by the imposition of a dog tax on African "herders employed on a settler farm" of "more than the equivalent of a month's salary" (179), which exemplifies similar accounts discussed throughout the collection Canis Africanis.
(14) Rob Nixon uses the term "slow violence" to designate "calamities that are slow and long lasting" like chemical and radiological poisoning, and argues that this is a kind of violence unequally borne by the world's poor (6). Much more can and should be said along these lines about how the Arctic now boasts the highest concentrations of pcbs, mercury, and other industrial contaminants, with inevitably bad consequences for everyone eating at the top of the food chains there.
SUSAN MCHUGH is Professor and Chair of English at the University of New England. All of her research and some of her teaching focuses on literary, visual, and scientific stories of species. She is the author of Animal Stories: Narrating across Species Lines (2011), published in the University of Minnesota Press's Posthumanities series, as well as Dog (2004), a volume in Reaktion Books' Animal series. Along with Garry Marvin, she is co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Studies. Her ongoing research focuses on stories of the intersections of biological and cultural extinction.
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|Publication:||English Studies in Canada|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2013|
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