Traditional Beliefs

The traditional belief system of the Inuit was a wide, all encompassing thought process consisting of belief, practices and taboos of which shamanism was a part. Spirituality prevaded every aspect of Inuit culture.

Iola Abraham Ikkidluak
Caribou/Human Transformation
Lake Harbour 1990
69.5x30.5x20.5 cm - Serpentine

The Shaman or was the major figure in the community who acted as intermediary between ordinary people and the spirit world.

This sculpture by Karoo Ashevak is sculpted from whale bone. Many artists from Taloyoak have used the old whale bone left behind by the whalers

Karoo Ashevak
Taloyoak 1969
53.3x27.2x33.8 cm - Whale bone

Inuit believed that the North was peopled with many different beings of supernatural dimensions. Spirits existed everywhere: the air, the sea and the earth. All objects, things and places, whether living or inanimate, had spirits.

Louise Upalik
Bear Drum Dancer


One of the most powerful spirit beings was the sea goddess, variously known as Sedna, Taleelayo or Nuliayuk. From her home at the bottom of the sea, she controlled the weather, powerful spirits and sea creatures. Rules and taboos had to be obeyed lest this powerful being become enraged and cause storms, sickness and starvation.

Abraham Anghik Ruben
Paulatuk / Chiliwack B.C. 1990
66x52x60 cm - Soapstone

Lorne Balshine Collection



Please Upgrade Your Browser

This site's design is only visible in a graphical browser that supports web standards, but its content is accessible to any browser or Internet device.