Human Ecology

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 271–288 | Cite as

Transmission of Environmental Knowledge and Land Skills among Inuit Men in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada

  • Tristan Pearce
  • Harold Wright
  • Roland Notaina
  • Adam Kudlak
  • Barry Smit
  • James Ford
  • Christopher Furgal


The transmission of environmental knowledge and land skills was studied among Inuit men in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada. A list of 83 skills important for safe and successful harvesting was generated with 14 active hunters and elders, and examined with a sample of 47 men. This research found that land skills continue to be transmitted most often from older to younger generations through observation and apprenticeship in the environment. However there is a difference in the rate of skills transmission among generations, with average transmission rates lowest among younger respondents. Some skills were transmitted well among younger respondents including general hunting and camp-related skills, but others such as traveling on the sea ice and traditional navigation skills were not. Loss of certain skills and incomplete transmission of others were related to the absence of skills teachers, loss of native language, and changes in the educational environment.


Knowledge transmission Indigenous knowledge Inuit Land skills Subsistence Arctic Learning 



The generosity, friendships, and knowledge shared by the residents of Ulukhaktok and specifically the interview respondents are gratefully acknowledged. Jimmy Kudlak, Jimmy Memorana, Mel Pretty and Wilma Memogana you are remembered and missed. Thank you to Robert and Agnes Kuptana, Jerry Sr. Akoakhion, Ross Napayok Klengenberg, Jack Simon Kataoyak, Walter Olifie, Renie Taipana Oliktoak, Colin Okheena, Wilma Memogana, Susie Malgokak, and Zane Kuneyuna for intellectual input and assistance in the field. The contributions of Dr. Ben Bradshaw, Frank Duerden, Dr. Peter Collings, Mark Andrachuk and Laura Fleming are also acknowledged. Thank you to Marie Puddister for Figure 1.

This research was made possible through support from ArcticNet, International Polar Year CAVIAR project, SSHRC Vanier Doctoral Scholarship, ACUNS Canadian Polar Commission Scholarship, and University of Guelph graduate scholarships.

The research was undertaken as part of the Global Environmental Change Group at the University of Guelph, and was conducted under Aurora Research Institute scientific research license No. 14440.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tristan Pearce
    • 1
  • Harold Wright
    • 2
  • Roland Notaina
    • 2
  • Adam Kudlak
    • 2
  • Barry Smit
    • 1
  • James Ford
    • 3
  • Christopher Furgal
    • 4
  1. 1.University of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Community of UlukhaktokUlukhaktokCanada
  3. 3.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Trent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

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