Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 2, 2001 - Issue 37



Inuit Women Seek Parka Copyright


by CBC North News

RANKIN INLET, NUNAVUT - The national association of Inuit women is trying to prevent southern manufacturers from copying traditional Inuit designs. Pauktuutit says it made big progress at a weekend conference to protect the amauti, or parka worn by women.

Delegates at the workshop want to make sure the amauti doesn't go the way of the kayak, copied and mass-marketed by southern companies without giving credit - or profit - to the Inuit who designed it.

The group spent the weekend discussing the different laws that protect intellectual property such as copyright, trademark and industrial design.

Tracy O'Hearn, the executive director of Pauktuutit, says those laws don't fit with the Inuit view of property. "They don't address the collective nature of the ownership and the protection are also time-limited," she says.

O'Hearn says persuading the federal government to change the trademark act to protect the amauti won't be easy, but it's necessary to protect traditional knowledge.

Arctic Region/Amauti
Finds of clothing or its fragments from bygone ages in the Arctic are rare. But on the basis of figurines, tools, cut and sewn skins, and images given by Europeans we can theorize that the clothing of contemporary Inuit is similar to that of very early periods.

The amauti (woman's parka) has a deep hood at the back in which babies and children are placed. In the film, this beautiful amauti was a gift to Atuat, Atanarjuat's first wife, during their emotional reunion after his return to Igloolik following a period of exile and recovery at the camp of the shaman Qulitalik. This amauti is made of caribou skin and features decorative fringes and an intricate overlay design on the front.
Copper and Caribou Inuit Clothing Traditions
When Inuit lived exclusively on the land, caribou and seal were the main sources of clothing material. The insulating properties of caribou fur made it ideal for protection from the harsh winters. Sealskin was preferred for footwear because of its durability and water-resistance. To conserve heat, skin garments were designed so that adjacent pieces of clothing overlapped. Further insulation was provided by wearing two layers.



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