Risk Diversification in the Arctic

“Quinuituq” is an Inuit (Eskimo) word meaning deep patience.

It originally applies to standing on the sea-ice, waiting by a blow-hole for a seal to emerge briefly.

You have to find a potential blow-hole first, then stand downwind from it so the seal cannot smell you in the seconds during which it emerges to take a breath.

Standing downwind, however, means you are facing into the Arctic wind for as long as you are standing there.

You also need to stand perfectly still.  Feet moving on ice can easily be heard from under the ice.  And you also need to hold a 3-kilo harpoon in one hand, ready to throw it at a moment’s notice.

And you may have to do all that for around 14 hours at a time.

If a seal does pop up, then you have just a fraction of a second in which to react.

Nevertheless, the Inuit believe that you do not “get” the seal so much as it gives itself up to you.  And because of that, you also have to share the gift with your people.

Sharing means that if twelve hunters go out and only two are successful, everyone still gets to share in the success.  Next time it may be the other hunters who are successful.  Survival and risk diversification come down to the same thing…….as they do in many walks of life. 

Source:   Alaska Journal of Commerce.

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