when is an inukshuk not an inukshuk?

when it’s designed by a white person, made multi-coloured, and chosen as the symbol for the olympics.

now – as people know – i’m no fan of the fact bc was awarded the winter olympics in 2010 and i’m sure that as the years tick down, i will find many more things to complain about… but i am honestly appalled by the ioc’s choice in an official logo for the games. the cbc article linked to above contains many good first nations criticisms of it, including some outrage from the inuit culture who actually use the inukshuk as a survival device and for whom it holds great significance…. not to mention bc first nations who wonder why none of their art styles were not incorporated into the design (since these olympics are being held in their territory after all).

rather than being a celebration of aboriginal artworks and social contributions, this symbol is one more example of the cultural appropriation of aboriginal symbols in a way that is insulting, assimilationist and inappropriate. unfortunately, this is something canada likes to do a lot, as if choosing native symbols to represent government departments and events will somehow ammeliorate the damage of genocide and colonialism that has all but destroyed the way of indigenous life in this country.

besides the general cultural comments – there is no doubt that is one *ugly* piece of design work and it’s too bad we’re going to have to live with it for the next 5 years. yuck.

One Comment on “when is an inukshuk not an inukshuk?

  1. Well put. It is, indeed, a rather inappropriate and ugly logo. A very misguided and illogical attempt at utilising an aborigional cultural element. as someone who works in a museum featuring vast quantities of native artifacts, some spiritual and some simply artistic, i am very aware of issues of repatriation and voice – it is simply wrong for an organisation or an event to use a native symbol (one of guidance and direction) to represent on a global scale an event that has little to do with those things. I think the Olympics in the classic sense (or at least in the way they were intended to be) may be deserving of such a representative, but the IOC’s politics, scandals, unsportsmanlike beaviour of competitors, doping issues etc . . . they are just not deserving. And I think the most offensive part is that northern aborigional groups are being misrepresented in combination with BC’s groups and the greater populus. It is ridiculous. I hope the choice continues to be questioned in a meaningful way in public. I wonder what the level of consultation was before it was selected. I guess we can only hope that the logo choice is not a foreshadowing of what is to come. Public consulation with all sectors and stakeholders is crucial.

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