side show inuit: looking for nelvana

When things start off on the wrong foot, its tough to reconcile and make amends…

Primitive people and prehistoric violence do seem to have a symbiotic relationship. Untouched by the dogged moral strivings, the clear demarcation between right and wrong, and the total absence of a sense of middle class virtue,Inuit history seems more culled from an archaic  past marked by extremities between a deep and sublime humanity and an equal need for destruction. They were hardly the cuddly cute children of the wild, innate environmentalists, depicted by popular culture and post-colonial academic studies and neo-feminists.

At question is why, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, does our mediatized culture depict aboriginal peoples such as the Inuit as peace-lovers  in harmony with nature instead of the thoughtless and brutal civilization of quazi barbarians for which there is ample evidence. The truth is they are both. They could kill your best friend just to test the sharpness of a new spear, yet offer you a walrus steak and the pick of their best women an hour later coz yer such a regular guy.

---Canada's first comic book superhero, & the world's first female superhero. Based on Inuit legends, Nelvana was the daughter of the king of the northern lights & wore a miniskirt while battling Nazis. She lived among the Eskimos, could turn into dry ice, travelled at the speed of light, & could become invisible by blending in with the Aurora Borealis.--- Read More:

Still ,the public at large revels  in  false portrait of primitive life, whether the fantasies of Avatar, or Dancing with Wolves and so on, Hollywood spins out tales of wise and worthy because they sell, following the Norman Rockwell model of presenting disavowal and recapturing the purity of childhood innocence that never existed.  The consensus in popular culture asserts that primitive peoples enjoy an authenticity that the urban middle classes lack;   guilt at their near extermination has limits as far as explanations go.  In truth, the Westerners who were close enough to aboriginals to kill them them rarely had disturbed consciences from the act, even upon later reflection, which indicates our thirst for the authentic arises from somewhere less explicable. …

---Similarly, a Diomede Islander from Bering Strait was seen at the turn of the century with a mark tattooed at each corner of the mouth. He explained it as a preventive prescribed by his mother against the fate that had befallen his father – death by drowning--- Read More:

And this has gone on since day one: …at the 1576 encounter between the English and the Inuit of Baffin Island. The details of the meet-up were recorded by one Christopher Hall, a member of a Martin Frobisher-led expedition in search of the fabled Northwest Passage to China.

Upon first landing on Baffin Island and climbing a small hill in order to view the bay below, Frobisher and his men initially thought the surrounding waters were teeming with a novel form of seal. But upon closer inspection, these seaborne forms turned out to be Inuits in kayaks. And they were none-too-happy with the presence of the Westerners, who they instantly regarded as enemies. The landing party was chased back to their boat, the Gabriel, and Frobisher contemplated skedaddling at once. But Hall, an amateur anthropologist of sorts, volunteered to go back ashore and parlay with the Inuits (a meeting facilitated with an exchange of hostages). This led to an amicable encounter, in which Hall was able to record 17 Inuit words by pointing to objects. He also made note of the Inuits’ physical similarities to some of Genghis Khan’s most famous subjects: …

---the film should be better known on these names alone. If that wasn’t enough, Bob Dylan wrote “The Mighty Quinn” in tribute of this film (made famous by Manfred Mann). The film is no masterpiece, and at times is actually pretty hammy and cliché, but its an entertaining film with a message that is innocent and pure – to be tolerant of cultural differences and perceived “savagery”. Worth watching if like me you are a fan of Anthony Quinn – just don’t expect a performance like “La Strada“.--- Read More:

…They be like Tartars, with long black hair, broad faces, and flat noses, and tawney in color, wearing seal skins, and so do the women, not differing in the fashion, but the women are marked in the face with blue streaks down the cheeks, and round about the eyes. Their boats are made all of seal skins, with a keel of wood within the skin; the proportion of them is like a Spanish shallop, save only they be flat on the bottom, and sharp at both ends.

As it turns out, the Inuits were initially right to be afraid of Frobisher. After five of his men disappeared while returning an Inuit hostage—most likely on their own volition—Frobisher decided to split. But before he departed, he managed to kidnap a poor Inuit kayaker by using tinkling bells as a lure, then snatching him up with a hook on a pole. Frobisher dragged this Inuit  all the way back to England, where he publicly displayed the captive as a “strange man of Cathay.” Neither English weather nor English food agreed with the Inuit, and he died wit

weeks of landing in London. Which, sadly, was probably the best fate he could have hoped for at that time—life as a sideshow in Stuart England must’ve been bleak, indeed.Read More:

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