Inukshuk Messengers … and Socks!
How do you create a road sign, before road signs? In Canada, the answer was an inukshuk (pronounced in-ook-shook). But an inukshuk was more than a road sign, they relay a message, just like leaving a person behind. The word inukshuk means "to act in the capacity of a human."
Inuksuit (the plural of inukshuk) are man-made, carefully arranged piles of stones. Many are in the shape of a person, and most are large enough that one single person couldn't have made it by himself - it was a group effort. They appear in the Arctic regions of North America, from Alaska to Greenland.
It would take quite a bit of work to pile these heavy stones on top of each other. So why go to such effort? The inuksuit were long distance messengers for Canada's indigenous people. In a flat, barren tundra with few natural landmarks the large inuksuit and able to be seen from a long distance. These communication markers were used as navigational, hunting aids and even warnings.
For example, an inukshuk may have meant "Great Camping Ground Here" or "We Had A Good Hunt Here, Let's Come Back to the Same Place Next Year!" or "This is Where We Buried the Food We are Saving for Later."
The inuksuit can also serve as a tribute to the human spirit. Each individual stone doesn't amount to much, but when piled together they send a vital message. Often their message was to help other travelers, for example, by warning of dangerous ice or currents. This was seen as a mark of selflessness. Rather than continue on their journey, the builders took the time to stop their travels long enough to build an inukshuk to send a helpful message to the strangers that may follow them. They remind us that we are all connected, and that we can succeed as a group where we would fail alone.
How's that spelled? The official English language spelling is inukshuk, which is what we at FiberWild! are using. But the indigenous Inuit of Canada spell it inuksuk (without the H), so the Government of Canada has adopted the H-less inuksuk spelling as well. Either way is correct.
Today the inuksuit are a cultural symbol of the indigenous Inuit and of all of Canada. The symbol is used on the flag of the territory of Nunavut, and in business names and logos. The symbol was even used as the logo for the 2010 Olympic Games held in Canada.
Our newest Sock of the Month: World Traveler Series is the Inukshuk Sock, honoring the helpful people of Canada. The design has cute little inuksuit along the top of the foot and around the leg. So what is the important message these little guys are communicating? "An Awesome Person is Wearing These Socks" or "Look at the Cool Socks I Knit!" ... you decide!
Happy Knitting! ... Scout