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David F. Pelly Writer, Researcher, Historian, Photographer

The Origin of Death
Published in 1999
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The story of Uvajuq is rooted in a time when people and animals lived in such harmony and unity that they could speak to each other. For Inuit, as for people whose traditions include the story of the Garden of Eden, this idyllic existence came to an abrupt end a long time ago. The story told here, in words and pictures, speaks of that ancient event and of the transition to an existence where a different kind of sharing prevails.

This old Inuit legend took on an entirely new dimension in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, with the uncovering of a unique array of artifacts during an archaeological survey of the hill known as Uvajuq.

The mysterious find offers a compelling confluence of myth and reality.

The legend of Uvajuq, as told here, was collected by David Pelly from a group of Inuit elders in the Nunavut community of Cambridge Bay, 300 km north of the Arctic Circle. On the surface, it is a story of how three prominent hills near the community were formed. Underlying that is a tale of much deeper significance.

Illustrated by Elsie Anaginak Klengenberg
Elsie is an Inuit artist from the western Arctic. She grew up on the land, living in tents and iglus, in an atmosphere of strong traditional values and skills. In the 1960s, her family moved into the community of Holman, on the west coast of Victoria Island. Elsie's father, Victor Ekootak, was one of the founders of the now-famous Holman Co-op and print-shop. Today, Elsie herself is an important member of the Victoria Island artistic community. Her work has been widely acclaimed for its illustrative depiction of traditional themes, which Elsie says helps to keep her connected to memories of life on the land.

Twenty of Elsie's prints depicting the legend of Uvajuq are reproduced in this book in full colour.  The complete legend is printed in English and Inuinnaqtun (the local dialect of the Inuit language, Inuktut). The book contains biographies and portraits of the Inuit elders from Cambridge Bay who contributed their memories of the old legend. There are also archival photos, maps, local historical notes, and some stunning colour photography from Victoria Island.

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Elsie Anaginak Klengenberg at work on the stencil prints
depicting the old legend of Uvajuq

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Mackie Kaosoni, Frank Analok, Annie Kaosoni,
Mable Angulalik near Uvajuq (Mt. Pelly)

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"This extraordinary book ... deserves a place in our hearts. This proud book is a gem."

Toni Harting
"The exquisite artwork of Elsie Anaginak Klengenberg ... takes the mythical into the real-world present day.  Very powerful stuff!"

News North
"Elsie Klengenberg's luminous stencil prints illustrate this stark and beautiful myth.  But nothing is more eloquent than the voices of the Inuit elders, whose survival was enabled by their ethic of sharing and co-operation, in the spirit of Uvajuq."

Aritha van Herk
Canadian Geographic

Bibliographic data
Uvajuq:  The Origin of Death
Betelgeuse Books & The Kitikmeot Heritage Society, 1999
Illustrated by Elsie Anaginak Klengenberg
Edited by David F. Pelly & Kim Crockatt
84 pages • 9"x 8"
Colour and B&W Photos, Maps
Cardcover: ISBN 978-0-9690783-8-2

Distributed by Dundurn Press