Inuit women and seals: a relationship like no other now on Flickr

Seals are a central part of life and an essential source of locally-harvested food for Inuit peoples. Many traditions, customs, beliefs and oral histories revolve around the seal. Inuit peoples were and still are in an important and direct relationship with this animal. Inuit hunters have great respect for the spirit of the seal, an animal that is so heavily relied upon. Every single part of the seal is used, as the harvesting must be sustainable, humane and respectful. Most importantly, cold and harsh arctic climates demand that people have the right shelter and clothing to keep warm and dry, and seals help meet this need through their skins, fur and oil.

A black-and-white photograph of a woman standing in front of a tent, hanging seal boots to dry on a clothesline.

Inuit woman “Aasivak Evic” hangs kamiits (sealskin boots) to dry, Pangnirtuuq (Pangnirtung), Nunavut. George Hunter. Canada. National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque (MIKAN 3198727)

Inuit women developed highly skilled techniques in order to treat and use seal in various ways throughout the seasons. They scraped the skins clean of blubber with an ulu (a traditional, women’s knife with a crescent-shaped blade).

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