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Schoolchildren at the end of the day in Iqaluit.

Photo Dentiste Aklavik

The Sick Body: Diagnostics and Treatments (North Baffin)

Tipuula Qaapik Atagutsiak
« Although the seal is really small compared to some animals, it is extremely useful. It is the most abundant. It is easier to catch than many other animals. Its blubber is used for food, and for the heat. Seal oil is used to waterproof kamiik and of course for healing. » (Page 51)

«I guess the plants we ate helped keep us healthy. I guess for that reason we hardly got sick. Everything that we ate was fresh. » (Page 69)
The Sick Body: Diagnostics and Treatments (North Baffin)
Animal oil is an essential component to the Inuit traditional lifestyle. It enabled the lamp, qulliq, to heat the tent or iglu when there was no heat source available and made cooking possible. Also, one oiled boots and qajait to make them waterproof and last longer. The oils from the polar bear, caribou, whale and seal had specific uses and qualities. For instance, bearded seal oil was the most favoured for its numerous qualities, mostly medicinal. This oil helped heal throat or ear aches, protected the skin, soothed sunburns, moistened wounds and accelerated their healing. The fatty part of the seal's skin was also used for bandages. The oil would be carefully extracted, by scratching it or melting it over a lamp.

After the diagnostic, one found a remedy for each illness. The remedy could be of an animal source (boiled seal fins against diarrhoea, rabbit or lemming skin for draining an abscess), plant source (certain berries and roots against diarrhoea, puffball mushroom powder to stop bleeding, maniq moss to soothe indigestion and stimulate mother's milk, willow flowers to heal abscesses) or even human source (hot urine to stop bleeding, mother's milk for healing eye infections). Their knowledge of the human body and of their natural environment, coupled with the daily consumption of game and fresh plants ensured the Inuit good health.