The Trail As Home Aporta Analysis

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Claudio Aporta, “The Trail as Home: Inuit and Their Pan-Arctic Network of Routes,” Human
Ecology 37 (2009) 131-146.

In “The Trail as Home” Claudio Aporta discusses the network of well-established routes that connects the communities across the Canadian Artic. Aporta analyzes the way Inuit access and share knowledge about the passages of Pan-Artic, comparing their oral-passed knowledge with the mapped routes done with current communication and transportation technologies. He is curious about the mapping of routes, as he compares the past and present documentation of routes and compares it with the Inuit ways of oral documentation of routes. Aporta attempts to explain how the network of routes, interconnecting significant places and Inuit
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Aporta uses several approaches to further his goal by drawing on his 2006 trip following the traditional Inuit trial, as well as using ethnographic research, geographic tools, and historical documents to analyze the routes and use the database to find “turning points and other places of importance” and using that to explain the “geographic extent of the network(s) and its historical continuity”.

In the article, Aporta constantly stress the importance of oral traditions among the Inuit as the “geographic and environmental knowledge relating to trails” have been orally transmitted through many generations. The network of routes in the Pan-Artic act as a way of “communication and exchange” for the Inuit across the Artic; the routes are of importance to the Inuit as it connects communities and the food sources. He reports that since the landscape of the fluid routes are constantly changing, the itinerary still remains in (Inuit) peoples memory due to the orally shared and transmitted data. Aporta illustrates the way Inuit narratives the Canadian Artic long before there was communication and transportation technologies;
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He argues that oral history should not be overlooked as unreliable and inaccurate, and concludes from his analyzes and experience that the fact the geographic knowledge of trails and names have transmitted without significant changes over the centuries proves the power and longevity of oral communication. The social artifact of the maps that Aporta use as sources ties into the historical era of the colonization and exploration of North America. The relationship of the first explorers and the First Nation can be viewed in the article. Aporta compares present-day trails and place names with those used by Inuit in the past by examining written documents and maps and conducts interviews with Inuit elders. In class, we examined and learned how the Indigenous people have helped guide the first explorers and learned how Aboriginal people presented their views through oral history. Some maps analyzed for this article are produced by the first explorers and ethnographers that visited the place. First Nation people - Inuit people in this instance - have guided the explorers through the Canadian Artic, showing them their traditional routes and toponyms, which have been

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