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Some ideas that will make products Arctic-friendly.

In just four decades, life in the Arctic has evolved to great dependence on machinery and accessories manufactured in the "outside." In light of this, here are some ideas that might be useful, and essential, to everyday life in the Arctic, which makes me wonder why we haven't thought of these before.

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Snowmobile manufacturers are in the business of making so-called "recreation" vehicles. But in the Arctic, snowmobiles are not used for mere "recreation." It's about time for Inuit to insist that manufacturers establish "Arctic workhorse" sections to their companies. Such entities would be able to plug into practical Arctic knowledge to make products better for Inuit. Ideally, these "Arctic workhorse" sections would be composed of Inuit hunters.

From this arrangement, manufacturers would get advice on features considered essential for machines destined for the Arctic climate, and to Inuit who use them. They would learn, for instance, that models made for Arctic use should come with a ready-made, sturdy hitch. All machines sold in the Arctic are used to pull something. Present "recreational" models overlook this completely, which forces users to devise home-made hitches.

"Arctic workhorse" sections would ensure that Arctic-bound snowmobiles are equipped with windshields designed for functional, rather than ornamental, purposes. All machines would be equipped with fuel primer pumps, and not just warm-up levers. This user/maker relationship would most certainly produce other innovations, and even inventions, making products more user-friendly, and better suited to Arctic use.

Presently, snowmobile producers make all manner of accessories, which are appropriate for the "recreational" market in the sub-Arctic climate. On the instigation of their "Arctic workhorse" sections, they would start making accessories suited for Arctic use, such as removable caribou skin mats for the seat, and portable heaters designed for the contours of the engine, carburetors, and carburetor housing. (Hair dryer companies might scramble for this one!)

Post "Arctic workhorse" snowmobiles will have fuel pumps positioned in closer proximity to engine heat, or at least positioned where thawing with heat or hot water would be easier. Suspension axles will be constructed of sturdier, longer lasting material. Tool containers will be made of rigid plastic and easy to open and close. Today's pliable synthetic sheeting tool-cases congeal to the shape of the items they enclose, and crack and split when frozen.

The first major company to establish an "Arctic workhorse" section will immediately reap the benefits of operating such an entity. Soon, its products will be the talk of towns across the Arctic. Other companies will notice, and will scramble to set up their own such sections.

Other products that would benefit from such an approach are camp stoves and lanterns. Inuit advisors would point out the necessity of using freeze-proof material for these items' pump flaps. Now, the pump flaps are made of a synthetic material which renders the pumps useless when they freeze. Fuel tank caps would also be placed in more exposed positions, and not in indentations. Finally, a rigid, enclosed case would be designed to protect the accessory from the rough-and-tumble of Arctic trails.

Camp lanterns would be given a thorough once-over for design improvements. A sturdier mantle would probably be invented. Some way to re-inforce the generator would be brainstormed, to make it more "trail-proof." Products with improvements based on Arctic know-how would be designed to last for years, and not just months, as today's flimsy models are. Built-in obsolescence would be radically reduced.

On seeing motorcycle manufacturers on TV turn sheet metal into fenders by torch heating it and shaping it with a hydraulic press, I thought: "What an ideal way to make ice scoops!" A natural extension of this would be getting a company that makes hockey stick shafts to produce handles of different lengths and sturdiness to fit these fender-cum-ice scoops. (Hockey stick shafts also make ideal handles for sealing hooks and winter fishing lines, but here, I'm digressing into "Eskimo Ingenuity".)

"Arctic workshop" sections of ice auger manufacturers would vividly encourage producers to design a good "trail-proof" case to protect the motor and make it last longer.

Another ice auger accessory designed through Arctic know-how would be a contoured casing for the auger bit, to make it easier to lash down, without damaging other items loaded on the sled.

If companies don't jump on this bandwagon soon, enterprising Inuit should get busy setting up all-purpose Arctic workhorse consulting firms. The result will be a wide range of manufactured products, which are more Arctic friendly, and of greater use to Inuit who depend on them for subsistence, and for making a living off the land and sea.

This is an Arctic products revolution waiting to be triggered. Inuit development corporations would do well to massage such ideas, then plant them with major companies with extensive product sales in the Arctic.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:NASIVVIK; Snowmobiles
Author:Nungak, Zebedee
Publication:Wind Speaker
Geographic Code:0ARCT
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Words:799
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