In this lesson, students will learn about nattiit (ringed seals) from both biology and an Inuit perspective. Students will gain a holistic understanding of how these marine mammals interact with their Arctic environment and how they are a part of regular life in the North. Accompanying this lesson will be a podcast with Inuk researcher, Enooyaq Sudlovenick, discussing her interest in nattiit and how to incorporate both Inuit guiding principles and Western knowledge. The lesson will conclude with a brief introduction to the Micro:bit and MakeCode environment to prepare learners for the coming activities.
- Learn about the nattiq and how they are part of Inuit life
- Learn about the basic habitat of nattiit
- Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq: Respect and care for the land, animals, and the environment
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Principles (IQ Principles)
Note: Sometimes known as IQ principles, or Inuit guiding principles. It should be noted that the spelling of Inuit terms often differs, according to dialectal differences. The concepts remain shared despite spelling differences. (Tagalik, Shirley. Inuit Princeples of Conservation- Serving Others).
- Qanuqtuurunnarniq (Being resourceful to solve problems)
- When hunting nattiit, the Inuit hunters are able to use naluaqtuut (a tool that Inuit hunters use) to get close to the nattiq. They learn how to use hunting techniques by placing a feather over the nattiq’s breathing hole.
- Avatimik kamtsiarniq (Promoting environmental stewardship)
- Inuit use all the parts of the nattiit. The women make clothes out of the sealskin so nothing is wasted.
- Pijitsirniq (Serving)
- The hunter that catches the nattiq always shares it with other people. By catching the nattiq, the hunters are serving their community by providing food.
- Tunnganarniq (Being welcoming, open, and inclusive)
- If the hunter catches a nattiq on the ice, the hunter welcomes the other hunters in the area to have fresh nattiq liver and tea.
- Pilimmaksarniq (Knowledge and skills)
- The important skills for harvesting and preparing the nattiq are taught to the younger generation through observation and practice.
- Ringed Seal (singular)
- Ringed Seals (plural)
- Inuit Nunangat
- Land where Inuit live
- Polar Bear (singular)
- Polar Bears (plural)
- Arctic Fox (singular)
- Arctic Foxes (plural)
- Seagull (singular)
- Seagulls (plural)
- Lung (singular)
- Lungs (plural)
- Fore Flipper
- Front Ribs
- Back Flippers
- Naluaqtuut is made from a white material and has a wood frame around it and a handle. This helps the hunter hide when trying to get close to a nattiq that is on the ice.
- Podcast with Enooyaq Sudlovenick and her perspectives on incorporating both Inuit and Western knowledge into her work
- Memory Game about the nattiq
Before starting the lesson, the students will hear a story about the nattiq.
Suggested stories to read (one or all could be read throughout the lesson):
- All About Seals by Ibi Kaslik
- Aglu Hunting by William Flaherty and Malcolm Kempt
- Palluq and Inuluk Go Hunting with Their Ataata by Jeela Palluq-Cloutier, Illustrated by Michelle Simpson
Introduction and Know – Want – Learn Exercise
Nattiit are integral marine mammals to Inuit all across Inuit Nunanganit. In this lesson, we will look at what a nattiq is, their habitat, why they’re hunted by Inuit, and how Inuit consume and use nattiit.
To start the lesson off, the teacher will ask the students to fill out a KWL chart:
- K-(what I KNOW)
- W-(what I WANT to know)
- L-(what I LEARNED)
Before the lesson starts, students will write or draw out what they already know about the nattiq as well as what they want to know about nattiit (leave the ‘L’ section until the end of the lesson). Once they have written that down, a few will be asked to share with the whole class.
Enooyaq Sudlovenickis is currently a Ph.D. student whose research focuses on marine mammals and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. Listen to the following podcast to learn about her research with the nattiq and how she considers both Western knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit in her approach to research.
You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.
Discussion Questions on the Podcast
- What are some of the ways the nattiq is important to Inuit?
- How did IQ principles (Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit) change the approach to research with regards to the nattiq project?
- What are some of the changes we see in the ocean when the temperature increases?
- What were some of the observations Enooyaq found in the tissue samples of the nattiq?
- How might IQ principles change one’s approach to conservation?
What are Nattiit?
Depending on what the students indicated that they already know about nattiit, either review or teach them in more detail about the following information:
Nattiit are animals that live in the ocean and rely heavily on the sea ice. They are mammals that live in the Arctic and can be found as far south as northern Japan. The length of a nattiq is 1.5 metres with a weight of 50 to 75 kg. Their main diet is fish and invertebrates. Nattiit are grey with black spots with white around the spots, which are surrounded by light grey rings. They can live about 25 to 30 years! The population of nattiit always varies but there are approximately 2,000,000! Nattiit breed annually and their breeding season is from April to May. The known predators of nattiit are nanuit (polar bears), tiriganiat (arctic foxes), and Inuit.
Where Nattiit Live
We are looking at nattiit that live specifically in the areas where Inuit live and consume nattiit, but nattiit are located all across the Arctic.
Nattiit live in Arctic waters and are commonly found on ice floes. The ice floes and pack ice is used for resting, pupping, and moulting. Nattiit do not like to come ashore but prefer to inhabit areas near breathing holes that they create or ice cracks to easily escape predators. The Arctic sea ice is integral for their survival.
Many other images of the mapping of nattiit can be found online when doing a quick Google search.
How Inuit Use Nattiit/Innovations
Inuit use the whole part of the nattiq. Nattiit are a huge part of Inuit diet and clothing. To get a better understanding of how nattiit are used, we will look at how Inuit hunt, consume, and use nattiit.
The students will learn the different parts of the nattiq, which parts are eaten, and how each part of the fur is used, and for which garments.
Show the students the Nattiq poster from the The Nunavut Bilingual Education Society (NBES) and discuss the body parts of the nattiq.
- The sealskin is adapted to the environment. The fur is very waterproof and warm. Inuit have observed this and use the fur to make warm and waterproof clothing, such as kamiik (boots), parkas (and/or amautiit, an Inuit baby carrier), and pualuk (mittens).
Inuit have also used the uqsuq (nattiq fat/oil) for the use of lighting the qulliq (which is the light source and cook top inside of an igloo).
- Nattitt are rich in nutrition. Some nutritional facts are that nattitt contain; vitamin A, which helps Inuit see in the dark and help with infections; Vitamin D, which is needed for building strong bones; Omega-3 fatty acids, which is important for brain development and helps the heart and blood vessels work properly; Zinc, which is needed for fighting infections and for healing wounds; Iron, which is essential for blood; and Selenium, which is an antioxidant and prevents cells in the body from being damaged.
- Using sealskin scraps has taken a new form of crafting from making jewelry, like earrings and necklaces, to small pouches and bags, which helps develop the Inuit economy.
Completion of ‘L’ Portion of KWL Chart
Task 1 – Students will be asked to complete the ‘L’ part of their KWL by adding a few points about what they learned in this lesson
Nattiq Anatomy – Tech Activity
After learning about the parts of the nattiq, put students into small groups or pairs. Assign each group one part of the nattiq and challenge them to display that word in Inuktitut on their Micro:bit.
Follow the activity guide below.
Conclusion: Digital Memory Game Activity
Welcome to the ocean conservation memory game! Here we will learn why ocean conservation is important and learn about nattiit!
- World Wild Life – Seals
- Enooyaq Sudlovenick – Using traditional Inuit knowledge and Western science to study Arctic marine life
- Why the seal hunting controversy is outdated – Video
- Angry Inuk – Film
- Introduction to Scratch – Course