About Inukshuk (Inuksuk)

Lisa C. Newcomer Information

What is an inukshuk?
  • Inukshuk, also spelled inuksuk, is a figure made of piled stones or boulders (large smooth) created by the Inuit — an Indigenous people, who are known to mostly inhabit the northern regions of Canada.
  • The word “inukshuk” means “in the likeness of a human” or “to act in the capacity of a human”. The plural form of “inukshuk” is “inuksuit”.
An inukshuk may serve several functions, including
  • guiding travellers and assisting hunters
  • indicating a change of direction
  • warning of danger
  • marking places of reverence.
How to construct an inukshuk?
  • By placing one stone or stacking multiple stones or boulders together into different shapes.
Four types of inukshuk:
  • Nalunaikkutaq, meaning “deconfuser”, is a single upright stone placed on its end.
  • Tikkuuti: rock(s) placed or arranged flat on the ground serving as a pointer of directions.
  • Inuksummarik or inuksukjuaq serve as major coordination points.
  • Inuksuit that serve as message centres. Hunters may leave an arrangement of stones for a follower.

If you are interested in this topic and want to learn more, read “Inuksuit Silent Messengers of the Arctic” by Norman Hallendy. This book is currently available as an e-book on the Calgary Public Library (CPL) website. You can log into your CPL account and borrow the book here: https://calgary.bibliocommons.com/item/show/724653095 .

Word of the Day:

Reverence: deep respect or honor