Pausing along the Journey: Learning Landscapes, Environmental Change, and Toponymy Amongst the Sikusilarmiut

Anne Henshaw

Abstract

This paper describes the preliminary results of a place-name project being conducted in the Sikusilarmiut land use area of southwest Baffin Island, Canada. Specifically, I explore how Sikusilarmiut toponymy can help inform broader scientific narratives about changing Arctic environments. I discuss how Sikusilarmiut place names reflect Inuit multisensory notions of place and provide insight into the changing movements of people across the land, sea, and ice on a seasonal basis. Many Sikusilarmiut place names and routes also serve as important spatial and temporal reference points that can help integrate multiple ways of understanding and identifying environmental change through time. I discuss how the incorporation of Inuit place names into a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database represents one way scientific knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit can be used together to identify environmental indicators of climate change. I conclude, however, that these documentation efforts must be combined with more experiential and practical knowledge.

  • Anne Henshaw, Coastal Studies Center and Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine 04011

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