Bear In Shamanic Transformation

originally composed in 1991, edited in 2016
My name is David Ruben Piqtoukun, registered as born on May 10, 1950. My parents, Billy and Bertha Ruben, told me my birth place was Argo Bay, just west of Paulatuk. I was born in a white canvas tent, which my people use in the spring time or when they are out on the land and have to move around often. I was told that the snow geese were flying around in mass when I entered the world. The first sound I would have heard would be the sound of thousands of snow and Canada geese. That would make me: Nature's child. This thought I will treasure for life.

I have 17 siblings in our original family grouping at the time of this writing. My beautiful parents and a few siblings have since passed on. I still have 8 brothers and 4 sisters. We are not a close knit group but we are a family without parents for guidance. We are all encouraged to be independent. That is the story of my life; be independent. At a very early age I began to learn life by trial and error.

A number of us of in my age group, ages 4 to 6, were taken onto an airplane and carted off to a place called Aklavik, to attend boarding school. We were all dressed in traditional clothing; caribou or sealskin parkas and pants, wearing mukluks to cover our feet. We were abducted, in essence. Inside the airplane we were all frightened by the sound of the engines and our unknown destination. After finally reaching our destination, we were processed, cleaned and our hair cut to the scalp. The Roman Catholic nuns were making sure we had no body or head lice to bring to our new home.

This is the story of our abduction to attend a schooling system which I call "an education in forgetting". The rules were very straight forward for every Inuit or Indian: Do not speak your language or even whisper your original language to yourself or anyone else around you. You will be dressed to all look alike, in pants, shirt or sweater, and will wear shoes (whether they fit or not). In my case, the shoes were often very tight and painful to wear. The final rules of residential school were: Always obey the nuns, keep your snotty nose clean, no fighting and never speak your Eskimo language!

Welcome to an education in forgetting. My recollection was that I retaliated at every turn. I was always cussing and cursing, fighting with every tough Eskimo or Indian that wanted to fight or wrestle. But my deepest resentment was being surrounded by all the religious statues and forced to recite religious prayers and to eat unknown food; and not having a clue about the whereabouts of my parents. I was your classic Lost Child.

That is my recollection of the last years of my early life. They also told me I was so stubborn and retaliatory that I spent a second year in kindergarten. I had refused to learn to speak a word of English! My whole life has been a reflection of that; always two years behind. In reality, I was a naturally slow learner. My own personal education method, live and learn by trial and error, is a testament to that fact. I would apply that same philosophy to stone carving and sculpture in my later years.

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Updates & News

26 December, 2016
The galleries of sculptures through the years are organized by decades, staring with the 1970's
18 December, 2016
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