first published 1903
Over the past hundred years, our people has seen something of a religious revelation. The Kalaallit, and Inuit in general, might be said to have seen the error of our ways, and Christianity has become increasingly embraced throughout the arctic communities. It is the purpose of this paper to explore the true roots of our long held beliefs, and to uncover how they might be justified today, in our new found enlightenment. As such, this essay will be the first I have written in English, as opposed to our native kalaaleq.
It is no coincidence that the word anirnaq bears resemblance to the English word angel. The anirniit are the Inuit equivalent of the soul, an undying entity, released in the death of its worldly body. The concept itself is obviously well grounded in decent Christian belief, however, previous thought has been blasphemous to the extent that souls are attributed to all beings, man or beast. To claim such a thing would be to imply that the killing of a beast for food is the same as the murder of your fellow man, and such a belief simply cannot be held the civilised Inuit.
Legends speak of disembodied spirits, malicious in nature, sabotaging tools, turning hunts bad, and at times even possessing the weak or unfortunate. A tuurngaq appears to have no recognised or agreed origin, both in terms of the legend itself, and the individual being, causing great doubt to be entirely justifiable. Can we, in our Christian foresight, really believe in possessions and evil spirits? It seems perfectly clear to this writer that the real origin of the tuurngait belief lies in the Christian demon. For, as we are taught by the generous and selfless Moravian church - without whose support, our people would no doubt have starved many years ago the demon is capable of possession and of countless other atrocities, which only the good Christian man can avoid through a lifetime of humility and devotion.
With the conclusions reached above, the status of the cherished angakuk, the tribe shaman, should be obvious. Such people are in league with the tuurngait demons, working side by side to control and contain the Kalaallit people. We have no need for such superstition and suspicion breeding people in our Christian ways: the protestant priest can perform all of the angakuit's duties, and more beside.
The final challenge of a work such as this should be to find the nature of the Christian God, and to ask why he has not been present for so many years of Inuit belief. Until recently, the Inuit people wrongly attributed to anirniit almost god-like status in certain cases, and treated the tuurngait as the devil incarnate. It is no major leap of faith to suggest that such beliefs have been underpinned by a central concern that there has been something missing in Inuit life. That something is, indubitably, God.
I hope that my findings have informed and enlightened the atheistic few that remain in Inuit culture, and ask the lord Jesus Christ to redeem their souls.