Skip to main content



Explore more of Isaaffik

Inuit Collaborative Workshop in Preparation for the Smithsonian Exhibit, Narwhal, Inuit and Ice in a Changing Artic, 2017


Project start
Project end
Type of project
Project theme
Education & Outreach
Project topic
Education & Outreach

Project details

Science / project summary

This award supports a workshop and community meetings in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada Fall 2015 to solicit ideas and advice from Inuit community members for a planned "Narwhal: Inuit and Ice in a Changing Arctic" exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History planned for July 2017. The exhibit was envisioned as the capstone of the community outreach plan for a previously funded Arctic Social Science research award "Using Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, Traditional Knowledge, To Guide The Development Of Hypotheses On Narwhal Tusk Function." The Fall 2015 workshop includes elders and hunters (some of whom collaborated on the science project), community leaders, Inuit organizations, educators, scientists, and Smithsonian support staff to discuss a variety of themes for the exhibit. In addition, meetings will be held with Hamlet Assembly representatives and the Hunters and Trappers Organization of Pond Inlet. The Themes for the exhibit to be discussed include how natural scientists and Inuit community members collaborate to expand their knowledge of narwhal anatomy, physiology, behavior, and the Arctic; how narwhals are changing and adapting as their environment changes and how these changes are affecting local people who depend on the narwhal for food and folklore; and a final theme that would examine how people from Inuit, European, and Asian cultures have created artwork, legends, and folklore representing how they have understood narwhals through time, including up to the present. To ensure that Inuit voices are an integral part of the construction of the exhibit, members of the Pond Inlet community will be approached to participate on a review panel of Inuit representatives to work with the exhibit team in order to ensure accuracy and Inuit perspectives Members of the Pond Inlet Hunters and Trappers Organization will also be invited to participate as reviewers for the traditional knowledge of the narwhal and its presentation in the exhibit. In addition, there will be meetings between scientists and local artists, who will be contracted to represent pictorial and art renderings of indigenous hunting, narwhal behavior, and the Inuit legend of the narwhal to be included in the exhibit. The final part of the workshop will be youth-focused in order to elicit information and ideas that will appeal to indigenous children in the Arctic, as well as extend to other indigenous cultures around the world.