Inuit Birthing Practices

Due to their location, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, research shows that Inuit people of the Canadian Arctic were seldom affected by colonization. For the most part they were free to practice their economic and cultural activities. (Babiuk, et al, 35)

Generally, Europeans traded with the Inuit and left. They did not attempt to settle the territory. (Babiuk, et al, 35) Inuit people lived unaffected until the 1950s, at which point they began to feel the impact of non-Aboriginal people and the Canadian government. (Babiuk, et al, 56) Once touched, many Inuit people were forced by the Canadian government to relocate to islands of the Artic with the promise of abundant land and modern amenities. Instead they found very little governmental support and barren, inhospitable lands. (Babiuk, et al, 56)

Their traditional migratory lifestyle was ruined and economic and cultural activities were terribly impacted. Inuit peoples of Canada have a history of traditional belief systems which believe that creation included the material world and the invisible (spiritual) world. “The entire universe had spirit, and the Creator was present in everything”. (Babiuk) In addition to their daily activities such as hunting, this belief system was embedded in their birthing practices.

From the earliest times, Inuit women viewed childbirth as a part of all other natural cycles of life. “Like death, birth was seen as part of a cycle of life that existed within the sacred realm, governed by ubiquitous spirituality that originated with the Creator.” (Carroll and Benoit, 265) In this regard, the arrival of a baby reminded everyone of the delicate cycle of life and death.

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2 responses to “Inuit Birthing Practices”

  1. Shirley Gernu

    I love this article. Well written and we need to talk more about how Native women’s traditions have been effected by colonization.

  2. Janet

    Great post. Love this site! We really need to talk more about women and their birthing experiences globally.

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