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"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Arctic Taliban

This is truly depressing.

Ad Randy Boswell reports for CanWest newspapers today:

Canada's only major Arctic petroglyph site — a 1,500-year-old gallery of mysterious faces carved into a soapstone ridge on a tiny island off of Quebec's northern coast — has been ransacked by vandals in what the region's top archeologist suspects was a religiously motivated attack by devout Christians from a nearby Inuit community.

...

More than 170 mask-like images, animal shapes and other symbols have been recorded on the island since the 1960s. Studies suggest Qajartalik was a sacred place, used for Dorset spiritual ceremonies and coming-of-age rituals.

But the site has been called "the Island of the Stone Devils" because some of the faces — possibly depicting a Dorset shaman in religious costume — appear to be adorned with horns. In the past, crosses have been scratched on the "pagan" petroglyphs and some area residents have told researchers they believe the site is infested with evil spirits.

...

Daniel Gendron, chief archeologist with the Inukjuak-based Avataq Cultural Institute, the key promoter of indigenous history and identity in Nunavik, said the latest vandalism at Qajartalik follows the pattern of previous attacks by members of what he called "a very strong movement" of conservative Christians in Kangiqsujuaq and several other Inuit communities in northern Quebec.
Just what we need; our own version of the Taliban.

10 Comments:

At 12:12 PM, August 26, 2006 , Blogger Brian said...

The bastards, that is one dirty rotten shame defacing history like that. Wonder why it was not under some sort of protection like Aboriginal sites are in Gondwana. They could then be strung up by the short and curlies for their miss deeds

 
At 4:11 PM, August 27, 2006 , Blogger The Fishician said...

That's awful.

Looking at it in another way, it says something about the vitality of Inuit culture, that some people still get that worked up about religion, evil spirits, etc... Very unique situation. Evangelical Christianity is a powerful and growing force across the Arctic. It's spreading from Inuk to Inuk and it doesn't look or smell very much like the Christianity you'd find in the south. It's an Inuit-specific Christianity. And this sounds a little like the Reformation!

 
At 5:06 PM, August 27, 2006 , Blogger WJM said...

And this sounds a little like the Reformation!

Yeah, but at least Stonehenge and other pre-Christian relics in Reformation Europe survived the Reformation!

 
At 12:34 AM, August 28, 2006 , Blogger mt.pearligan said...

WJM I don't know if you know much about the various iconoclastic periods in European history but an incredible amount of art and architecture was destroyed - much of what has survived is due to the very volume of production in the first place. I've seen tombstones destroyed by Henry VIII's soldiers and Ukrainian paintings that were defaced because they were considered to be false idols. Nonetheless, a terrible tragedy.

 
At 1:01 AM, August 28, 2006 , Blogger WJM said...

I don't know if you know much about the various iconoclastic periods in European history

Enough!

 
At 1:26 AM, August 28, 2006 , Blogger mt.pearligan said...

Enough? Why mention Stonehenge or other pre-Christian relics if European history isn't worth talking about? Such destruction of cultural artifacts is devastating no matter where it happens.

 
At 1:20 PM, August 28, 2006 , Blogger WJM said...

Why mention Stonehenge or other pre-Christian relics if European history isn't worth talking about?

Who said that it wasn't?

Such destruction of cultural artifacts is devastating no matter where it happens.

Did someone say differently?

 
At 1:30 PM, August 28, 2006 , Blogger The Fishician said...

There are some large paleolithic sites in England for sure, and they're nice. And it's true that the reformers destroyed most of the pre-reformation Christian art, so that nothing catholic remains in the art galleries of proddy England. It may be that the large sites evaded destruction because of their size or location in the country, where people have always been more or less pagan.

Inuit rock carving sites are extremely rare, however, and the loss of one is a major blow. Shame the province, feds, and Inuit agencies couldn't get their act together to save it years ago.

Rock carving sites in Canada have always been contested places, with different groups fighting over whether some of the images should be eradicated or not. Long history of that in Ontario, Nova Scotia, etc...

There's a nice carving down the road from me that says "Pink Floyd." Very old.

 
At 7:17 PM, August 28, 2006 , Blogger mt.pearligan said...

What did you mean by "Enough!" WJM?

Do you think it's normal to just shut people up like that? Is that what you meant to do?

 
At 9:18 PM, August 28, 2006 , Blogger WJM said...

What did you mean by "Enough!" WJM?

That I know enough "about the various iconoclastic periods in European history" for my purposes.

 

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