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Eskimo Childrens Literatur

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The Importance of Children’s Literature

Learning Team E


December 5, 2013
Ron Tatum Ph. D

Eskimo Children’s Literature

A child’s education is the backbone of any society. From the richest country in the world, to the poorest, without an educated population following behind, that country will not grow. From poetry, to science fiction, educating a child’s mind produces what we as a society will be exposed to and learn from. Ancient myths were the first tools used to teach our children where we came from and how the world around them came to be. Then there were the Greeks, introducing writing and a way to record our thoughts more accurately. With each generation, new concepts were discovered to teach with. It wasn’t until the invention of the movable type printing press in the 1400’s, that more children had a better chance for an education. Cheaper production meant less expenses, and more opportunities for widespread publication of books and reading material. The Bible was still the main teaching format used, but the printing press allowed more people to own their own bible. Most writing was still directed toward the adult population, but slowly, adults started realizing there was a need for information directed toward the child, more easily understood. By the mid-eighteenth century a man named John Newberry came along with the idea of creating books specifically for the child, publishing “A Little Pretty Pocket Book” in 1744”. This opened a whole new era for children wanting to read. Although the didactic element was the mainstay of literature for children, folktales were making a comeback as early as 1729. Old standbys, like Mother Goose, and Little Red Riding Hood, were still favorites for the young ones. The Industrial Revolution brought about some big changes in children’s literature. Boy’s adventure stories became popular, but the British versions were not as well accepted by the Americans. The American boys liked stories set in their own wild west. Illustrations in most books, up to this time, were still crude and not defined. It wasn’t until the end of the nineteenth century when the artwork in children’s books started to come alive. Literature does play a crucial role in our society. It molds young minds, and is a way to tell a story. Anything is possible in writing, whether it's sword-fighting, enchanting fiction, or striking poetry, or impacting someone in a matchless way with something real and genuine. It brings the world to life. It is the story that stands the test of time, it is able to form and touch lives in different ways, and broaden ones horizons to learn more, understand more, and think more. No matter what genre you tend to favor, it is important to have a strong foundation and a thorough knowledge of the content of what you read. The ideas and concepts we put into our minds affect us, and we need to use discretion and wisdom in what we allow. Our history is covered with priceless, as well as trashy literature, and though it's important to partake in the history of our society and culture, and to understand the trends of the past in order to benefit the future, choose those which do not bloat, sicken, or disgust. Every infant is born into a unique culture which will have many influences on every aspect of the development of the child. Culture influences the fundamentals of development. To have culture is to have roots in the Earth. Culture often has enrooted values, aspirations, expectations, practices, and virtues. The culture of the family or families often helps to aid the development character of the child. A family’s cultural presence prescribes the norms taken to determine how and when a child is fed, how they sleep, and behavior. Culture is a manual to help aid development. Inuit Culture has strong roots in the Arctic region. Inuit communities are found in the Arctic, in the Northwest Territories, Labrador and Quebec in Canada, above tree lines in Alaska, where people are called the Inupiat and Yupik, and in Russia, where people are called the Yupik people. In some areas, Inuit people are called “Eskimos” however many Inuit find this term offensive. The word “Inuit” means “the people” in the Inuktitut language. It is important to keep the traditions alive with the Inuit people. The Inuit beliefs and stories need to be preserved in order to keep the culture alive. Without these elements the rituals and dances would be meaningless. It is important to teach this at a young age to expose the children of their heritage so they can be proud of their ancestry. Bathe children, at the earliest age, in their ancestry because once exposed to western civilization it may be hard to go back. In the Tundra the individual has to work to survive. In the town and cities everything is so accessible that it is easy to become lazy and dependent upon the resources available. The Tundra is a lot of work and is becoming more populated. This is a reason to expand the Inuit people on other possibilities for their children. It is already a requirement by the government that all children need to go to school that emphasize non-native traditions. This transition can be hard because the children have to be up rooted from home and placed in a boarding school for 9 months out of the year. The children are being taught two different words. One is traditional and the other is westernized. Literature in a pluralistic society should be universal and non-bias since the information presented is for all cultures and ways of life. Yet the educational systems push one way or the other. Putting that divider up and creating them verses us scenarios. If the child decides later in life to live in absents of the Tundra or wish’s to go on with his education then they can make that decision, and the schools need to prepare them for such life, since their parents only knew of the life of their ancestors. The education system has been in place since after World War II. The people remaining made the decision to live the life of their ancestors and have probably never seen a fast-food restaurant. Yet they should prepare their children for something they to know nothing about. First books for children should be picture and pop-ups of traditions and culture. Perhaps make a book that represents their culture. For example, put deer hide on a page so the children can become more familiar with the main animal herded and worn in the Tundra. Folk lecture in the Inuit culture is full of life lessons to learn. For example, the story of the sea, which tells a story of an Inuit hunter as he was coming over the ridge as an elder dressed in white hides, comes across him and opened his eyes to a much broader view of life. Afterwards the elder turned and walked away. In the distance, the hunter sees the elder turn into a white rein deer and vanishes out of sight. The creation of the sun and moon revolves around a fight between brother and sister, a situation found in modern day sitcoms. Other stereotyping includes the idea that all Eskimos live in igloos. Simply not true anymore. This was once the only way to afford protection against the elements for a family because there was no other building material available. Most Inuit people live in wood framed housing nowadays. Stereotyping has been used in advertising since the 1800’s in America. More recently, articles about the new healthcare laws have been published in the New Yorker showing an Inuit grandson pushing his 90 year old grandfather off into oblivion, on an ice cube because he did not have insurance. The most obvious examples would be the Eskimo Pie, an ice cream sandwich loved by many. Whenever someone wants to show a scene of cold weather, you will usually find a picture of a round faced Eskimo wearing a fur lined parka hood, and a picture of an iceberg in the background. Reading through history has caused a bit of a stir when concerning aboriginal tribes. Thinking of such, when we think Indians, we already take on the impression of deer skin loin cloth, moccasin, and chief headdresses. Interesting how we assume that when many different cultures are not in that fashion, in fact they are vastly different. No matter the tribe we assume something in correlation to the continent they live in. Eskimo’s are seen as heavy fur wearing, whale hunters, or Coca-Cola commercials with the polar bear. It is not just the stereotyping that shines on them but who they are, the kind of cultures they possess, and how they share their history. The Eskimo’s or Inuit, meaning one person, are rather impressive as they have survived an extremely harsh environment. They originate from the north western parts of Canada and Alaska. For centuries they have had time to learn and adapt to their cold environment in the north. Their whole society survives off of a diet consisting of meat. As written by Alia Hoyt “Inuit adapted long ago to the harsh artic conditions. Throughout history, the Inuit relied much more heavily than the rest of the world on animals for nourishment, largely because plants just can't grow where they live.”(Pg. 1, Para. 2) (2013). Since artic weather conditions make it virtually impossible it is hard to have what we have now. Most of the world assumes that they have a similar division system. They do not, as they all have a shared interest, in the survivability of the tribe. Living without the class restrictions is far more plausible than having something that divides and creates tensions when cooperation is needed. This applies as well as to how their stories are told. The only cultural similarity that the Inuit have to Native Americans in the U.S. is that they both have told their stories through oral story telling. The later transition to printing their stories have been making any contemporary stories of realistic fiction and nonfiction difficult. Since the transition the Inuit have had outsiders telling people about their history and traditions. As Alia Hoyt states, “There have been a handful of other books published over the years such as Markoosie's Harpoon of the Hunter or Peter Pitseolak's Escape from Death but they were not specifically children's books and although beautifully produced, have not remained visible.”(Pg. 1, Para. 2) (2013). Through research the only books found are a few written books that have portrayed the actual heritage of the Inuit. Most of the stories presented to the general public are from outsiders who in turn, without realizing, have misconstrued their history. As Joanne Schwartz writes, “For the Inuit though, the book must pale in comparison to the heady, almost sensual experience of oral storytelling. Compared to the power of a community gathering or an intimate telling while a blizzard rages outside, a book must seem like a static object that has little connection to the visceral experience.”(Pg. 1, Para. 4)(2013). The meaning, of the above mentioned statement, is that in order for people to try to understand the written history the actual text they must be written in their language and culture. This cannot happen as the story told from their oral traditions lacks in comparison to what is written for the world to understand. Though many people may not understand the cultural heritage of the Inuit’s, keeping their stories valid provides people, reading them, with an understanding of the culture itself as a whole. Even the many folktales and stories can be seen as an invitation to their world through their eyes. Most of the Inuit’s that we have referred to as Eskimos have multiple tales of fantasy and adventure. The University of Saskatchewan provides a vast library of art and literature teaching and providing the information needed to see the Inuit people through a better light than just ignoring the stories they have accumulated. Fantasy literature, for the Inuit’s, are difficult to find unless you look for non-Inuit writers. Most of the actual writings for Inuit’s, as researched, provide no reference to Fantasy literature for the Inuit people. Although some writers of fantasy literature, for the Inuit people, are presented in The University of Saskatchewan, from which you can buy the only issue, is that they do not always reflect the culture of Inuit’s as their folktales do. Most generally, people cannot view a specific race or culture by the stereotypes they are given, nor can they ignore the literature they provide. Why or what reason should someone share the tales and stories of Inuit’s? One reason for understanding a culture is that people must see the mistakes, the great advancements, and even the other people around themselves. This type of understanding can shed light on understanding ones selves, and to one’s own culture. Just as people understand some of others cultural heritages, people still have room to learn more. Just as if Inuit’s were to provide that same door to Inuit they can learn to see that they too can learn from their own culture as well as their own people. In the end, stories for children help to open their minds and learn right from wrong. Children seek all types of answers to questions as well as advice for many different areas of life. Without stories, such as the one mentioned within this paper, children would have to solely rely on their elders and for the most part, that can be a good thing or a bad thing. The story mentioned above is a prime example for children to follow as it teaches the children how stereotypes are not ok, when used in the wrong manner, and that everyone is equal besides skin color.

Hoyt, A. (2013). How Igloos Work. Retrieved from Schwartz, J. (2013). Transmitting Oral Culture to the page: the Emergence of Inuit Children's Books. Retrieved from
University of Saskatchewen. (2013). University library Catalogue. Retrieved from

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