SHAMANISM - THE POWERS OF THE ANGAKKUQ
This lesson plan is designed to be used with students ages 12 and up.
Students will continue working on their Inuktitut/English dictionary started
in Lesson 1 on Shamanism. In groups of three, students will read an excerpt
from “Angakkuuniq: The Powers of the Angakkuq,” Interviewing Inuit
Elders Series, each student taking the role of interviewer or one of the elders.
As students encounter an unfamiliar Inuktitut word, they will write both it
and its English counterpart in their dictionary.
Estimated Time Needed
1 ½ - 2 class periods.
English/Inuktitut dictionary (started in Lesson 1 on Shamanism)
Angakkuuniq: The Powers of the Angakkuq, Interviewing Inuit Elders Series,
- Write “shaman” on the board. Ask volunteers what they remember
about shamans and shamanism.
- Remind students that a shaman is a mediator between the human world and
the spirit world. Before the 1900’s, when many Inuit converted to Christianity,
shamans were the doctors, healers and advisors to the Inuit.
- Give students Inuktitut/English dictionaries started in Lesson 1 on Shamanism.
Ask volunteers for the Inuktitut word for shaman (angakkuit) and helping spirit
(tuurngait). Write on the board.
- Ask if anyone remembers the role of a helping spirit? (would provide the
future shaman with assistance and guarantee him success in his practice )
What spirits were especially sought after? (walrus and polar bear) Why? (size
and ability to move in water and on land)
- Break students into groups of three and explain groups are going to read
a second selection from "Interviewing Inuit Elders Series". One
student is to take the role of the interviewer, the second student is to be
Nutaraaluk and the third student is Aupilaarjuk ( the two Inuit elders interviewed).
As students read, they are to add unfamiliar Inuktitut words and their English
equivalents to their dictionaries.
- As a class, read the Introduction to the selection, stopping to add the
words qaumaniq (aura visible to animals, spirits, shamans) taarniq (dark aura)
sakaniq (shaman’s séance), irinaliutiit (incantations) and qinngarniq
- Review with students how most shamans began their vocations Apprenticeship
under the supervision of a recognized shaman lasting several winters, which
- Initiation into the language of the spirits
- Acquisition of qaumaniq (clairvoyance/aura)
- Acquisition of tuurngait (helping spirits)
- Have students continue reading the selection, adding to their dictionary
as they go along.
Once students are finished reading, have volunteers share the words they included in their dictionaries. Write words on the board, instructing students to add any Inuktitut words they missed and correct any errors.
Ask students if they noticed the elders refer to Christianity while they were reading. Discuss what Aupilaarjuk means when he says "Now I am just an ordinary person. I am following Christianity. I am just an ordinary person now." (p.39) Explain that once the missionaries came, the shamans were told to get rid of their tuurngait and accept God as the Creator.
Instruct students to save their English/Inuktitut dictionaries or collect them for future use.