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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Public Art at Dartmouth

Peter Irniq, Inuit, born 1947 Inuksuk 2007  Stone

Peter Irniq, Inuit, born 1947

Collection of the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Commissioned by the Trustees of Dartmouth College; 2009.81

This structure, called an inuksuk, or "likeness of a person," was built by hand with stones collected in a field in nearby Haverhill, New Hampshire, for Dartmouth College by Peter Irniq, the former Commissioner of Nunavut. Nunavut was created in April 1999 as part of a historic land claims settlement with the Canadian government by the region's native people, who call themselves "Inuit."

The inuksuk is a stone figure that acts as a beacon for travelers in Canada's north. It also symbolizes the strength, leadership, and motivation of the Inuit, and an inuksuk appears in the center of the Nunavut flag. Inuit are taught to be respectful of inuksuit (plural for inuksuk); a traditional law in the Arctic forbids damaging these structures in any way.

Irniq has described the importance of inuksuit: "We build them for a reason—they tell us about patience and survival. Inuksuit act in the place of a person, they tell people where we have been in the past, where we are today, and where we are going in the future. They are a way for communication."

Every spring and summer, thousands of high school students visit Dartmouth's campus via McNutt Hall, which houses Dartmouth's Admissions Office. As the artist explained, "Through the window of this inuksuk, students can see from the Admissions Office across to the place where they will one day graduate from Dartmouth. They'll be able to look at their futures and contemplate what they might do." This sculpture, therefore, marks the place where Dartmouth students begin their educational journeys and act as a daily reminder of where they are going.

Last Updated: 10/5/12