Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America

December 2, 2000 - Issue 24


Storytime at Rankin Inlet

by Lorne Smith

 photo of Tautunngi by Lorne Smith

'Taipsumanguuq quasuqsinialirmat tiriganiakulugu amarurjuarlu... amarualuqlu (Once upon a time in the spring, a wee little fox and a great big wolf...)

Those who have just come in, hurriedly hang their coats on the hooks by the door and scurry to join the attentive semi-circle of children gathered round the woman at the end of the room.

'Tiriqaniakuluuq qaiggalatuk... (The wee little fox shouted out...) The stragglers settle into the charmed circle, hardly noticed by those already there. It is children's story time at the library.

At Rankin Inlet, the tradition of oral Eskimo literature is kept alive by Tautunngi, a very active grandmother. Since the fall of 1971 Tautunngi has been conducting a story hour every Monday night in the John Ayaruaq Library, which is named in memory of the story teller John Ayaruaq, whose tales of his early life are recorded in his autobiograhpy.

The library is open on Monday and Wednesday evenings and on Friday and Sunday afternoons. On a winter evening it is not unusual for the library staff to check out 60 to 70 books. The few books that are available in syllabics are the most popular, but children's story books and magazines are carefully read also. The library serves the region as well as the community and books are sent out to other settlements on loan. When funds become available it is hoped that audio-visual equipment will be purchased so that Tautunngi's stories can be taped and circulated in other settlements in the region.

On Monday nights the children are often lined up, waiting for the library to open and the story hour to begin.

Tautunngi was born near Repulse Bay about 1914. With Kabluitok, her husband, she lived in the Wager Bay and Chesterfield Inlet areas, finally moving to Rankin Inlet soon after the nickel mine opened. Her stories are the traditional legends and true stories of her own and other people's experiences. But the special magic which she puts into her story telling is all her own. With words, facial expressions and action she keeps her young audience's attention to the very end. They are reluctant to leave when the hour has ended.



Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Canku Ota is a copyright of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the Copyright © 1999 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.