(too-loo-gak): Inuktitut (the language of Inuit) word meaning raven

William R. Powless

Yellowknife, NT

One evening I was walking by a house on 51st and 49 Ave and this big black spruce in the front yard is completely enclosed by a flock of ravens, probably more than 100, much like a hive of bees, only on this one tree. It almost looked like it was made of black celluloid. I don’t know if you know the myth of the ravens of the Tower of London in England, something about if the ravens leave, the British Empire falls. One year the number of ravens was critically low, so they shipped some from the Northwest Territories to increase the number, and thus save the Empire. I’m not sure if it worked. Father Emile Petitot in his book Among the Chiglit Eskimos told how the Chiglit would come down the Mackenzie River in their umiaks and kayaks to Ft. McPherson just after break-up, with their furs and handicrafts at the same time the Loucheux Indians were trading their furs at the post. When the trading was completed, the two people, even though they hated each other, both sides massacring each other’s camps, would put on a dance with singing and entertainment. Petitot commented on the Chiglit chief imitating the movements and calls of the raven, saying how real it appeared and how impressed the audience was with it.