Inupiat in Kayak, Noatak, Alaska, 1929, by Edward S. Curtis, Wikipedia photo.
Inupiat in Kayak, Noatak, Alaska, 1929, by Edward S. Curtis, Wikipedia photo.

Our land had remained the same, before
Archaic peoples, prior to Nunavummiut,
Earth and sea were providers, we lived and
Prospered as a people before Qallunaat out-
Siders arrived, who often disregarded our
Ways, our need for prayer, to talk amongst
Ourselves, autonomy to set our own course.

Deep within my marrow, I felt conflict and
Collision, wind-streaked, darkened clouds,
On wandering walks my soul was taunted,
For I had learned that Thule burial sites exist
Just miles from where we lived, high slopes
Of Pangnirtung Fiord, across from cascading
Waterfalls, our sacred place of prayer.

Ironies, we had visited these rocks and
Recognized narrow depressions at their
Bases, ignored by summer hikers, sanctity
Of prayerful words spoken aloud where no
One else could hear, to seek guidance for
My people, communion of ancient past,
Ancestors who helped guide daily our path.

Should I accept that known in faith or ob-
Serve well-meaning researchers unearth
Our hallowed past? With sharp trowels, they
Sliced deep into age-old tundra, black earth
Exposed like hide cut from flesh, peeling
Back time, sealed context of Inuit antiquity,
Our present Nunavut horizon.

Blue-eyed blonde trespassers, they scraped
And screened as if I was not present, severing
Roots of my people, revealing secrets best left
Hidden in deep earth, first contact evidence,
They had found their seafaring Viking selves,
Corroded tool remnants, they spoke of Hellu-
Land, knowing more of Norse than of Inuit.

Pains of excavation, realization of ancestry,
They unearthed fragmented skull, cold-adapted
Face, wide zygomatic arches, round maxillary
Arch, they had found my old ancestor who slept
For centuries on this cliff, kayak hunted this fiord,
Wresting him away to study, mtDNA analysis,
Three-D printers for exacting duplication.

Months later when I returned to these rocks,
Guiding voices had vanished, my heart to
Stone, no solace found, our land had changed,
My old brother gone, reduced to photographs
In scientific articles, height, diet, and decay, no
Mention of his knowledge, what his discerning
Eyes had seen, ancient wisdom shared.

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