The town of Aasiaat is the municipal center of Aasiaat municipality, the most southern of the municipalities in the Disko Bay region in West Greenland. It is situated between two productive marine areas: the Disko Bay and the banks along the west coast of Greenland in the open water district. The Greenlandic name Aasiaat means "the spiders." Historically, abundant sea mammals gave a productive basis for Greenlanders in the area, and the region was also a major attraction for Danish colonists. Consequently, a colony was established in 1763 and was given the name Egedesminde after its founder, Niels Egede. The site was chosen due to resource availability and the fact that its harbor was well protected by an archipelago.
The ice conditions in Aasiaat enable sailing from mid-April until the beginning of December. As the settlement is situated north of the Arctic Circle, there is winter darkness from December 1 until January 12 and there is midnight sun from May 27 until July 18. The land area of the municipality is the second smallest in Greenland, with a total area of only 400 km2. The adjacent sea area, however, covers a total area of 3600 km2, and the municipality's population is the fifth largest in Greenland. The total population of Aasiaat is 3446 (as of January 1, 2000). Within the municipality there are three settlements: the town of Aasiaat with 3234 persons, the settlement Kitsissuarsuit (Hunde Ejland) with 110 persons, and the settlement Akunnaaq with 102 persons. Only 174 persons in the municipality were born outside of Greenland, and so the vast majority of the population comprise native Greenlanders. The population has been stable during the last 40 years.
Although historically the sea mammals first attracted the colonists, it was the rich fishing grounds on the banks and in Disko Bay that generated major interest in the settlement after World War II. The first fish processing plant was established on Transiten, a small island just outside the harbor in Aasiaat. In connection with modernization during the 20th century, Aasiaat's factory was improved to include fillet production and a freezing plant in 1966. Moreover, the rich shrimp stock in Disko Bay turned out to be accessible from Aasiaat, and a shrimp processing plant was thus established in 1951. Due to the ice conditions in the area, shrimp processing had previously been impossible during the winter; hence in 1989, a new plant was built, which included a large freezing storage that enabled year-round processing. The processing plant was next expanded with facilities for processing snow crab. The value of landings from fisheries (1998) is 36 million Danish kroner (4.5 million US dollars), with shrimp covering almost 95% of the value. In addition, there are also small landings of cod, Greenland halibut, wolffish, salmon, and hunting products.
Aasiaat is a modern town with all of the contemporary facilities and amenities, and similar to all towns in Greenland, fishing plays a vital role in the municipality's economy. Only 5% of the labor force, however, is involved in fisheries and hunting and 10% in the processing industry, while the majority of the population is employed in public and private administration (30%), education and social services (22%), trade (21%), and other processing industries and craftsper-sons (12%) primarily active in building industries and the local shipyard.
Aasiaat is one of the three towns in Greenland with a gymnasium (upper secondary school—the other two are in Nuuk and Qaqortoq) and a school for the handicapped. For several decades, Ulo—the largest record company and recording studio in Greenland—has operated in Aasiaat.
Rasmus Ole Rasmussen
See also Arctic Circle; Disko Bay; Greenland Further Reading
Berthelsen, Christian, Inger H. Mortensen & Ebbe Mortensen (editors), Kalaallit Nunaat Atlas, Nuuk, Greenland: Atuakkiorfik, 1992 Nielsen, Niels, Peter Skautrup & Christian Vibe (editors), J.P. Trap Danmark, Volume XIV, Gr0nland, K0benhavn: G.E.C. Gads Forlag, 1970 Rasmussen, Rasmus Ole, "Formal economy, renewable resources and structural changes in West Greenland." Etudes/Inuit/Studies, 24(1) (2000): 48-78 Statistics Greenland, Greenland 2000-2001. Statistical
Yearbook, Nuuk: Statistics Greenland, 2001 www.aasiaat.gl
Aasivik (plural aasiviit) was traditionally an Inuit camp where families from different areas gathered annually during the summer hunting seasons. In Greenlandic, aasivik is translated as "the place where one stays in summer" (Gr0nnow et al., 1983: 89). Aasiviit were usually located at desirable hunting grounds where resources were plentiful, such as the migration routes of caribou or seals, at abundant fishing and bird nesting areas, or at places where a combination of these wildlife resources was available.
Aasiviit can be classified according to the number of people gathered and their geographic origins. Traditionally, the summer months were favorable for traveling by umiak (a large, open transport boat covered with sealskin) or qajaq (a one-person hunting vessel completely covered with sealskin). Families left scattered and isolated winter settlements and often undertook long and dangerous journeys to reach a certain aasivik. While some aasiviit were regionally or even interregionally significant, because people from larger areas used to meet there, the majority of aasivi-it were primarily of local importance. Some aasiviit were little more than assembly camps for hunting parties or base camps from which hunting excursions were made.
In Inuit society, the aasiviit played a vital socioeconomic role. Life within the aasiviit strengthened social bonds among people from distant places. People exchanged news and experiences and settled disputes, for instance, by holding drum duels. Trade and partnerships were formed within aasivitt. An aasivik offered the fruitful opportunity of sharing ancestral knowledge and wisdom through the narrating of myths, stories, and legends.
Aasiviit were located throughout the Inuit world, both inland and along the coastline or on islands. In Northern Alaska, Nerleq, at the mouth of the Colville River, was a well-known aasivik site during the sum mer months. Here, Inuit from the coast met with Inuit living inland to exchange whale blubber, baleen, seal furs, walrus skins, wolf skins, caribou furs, and snow-shoes. In Northern Canada, Akilineq, at the mouth of the Thelon River, was one of the most vital aasiviit sites. Here, Caribou Inuit met with Copper and Netsilik Inuit during midsummer months to barter bows and arrows, muskox skins, fox furs, and items made from copper and soapstone.
Similar to other Inuit areas, many traditional aasivi-it places of minor or local importance have been found all over Greenland, where families and local people met for longer or shorter periods during the summer seasons. An example of a recognized and important aasivik site is Taseralik ("the place with small lakes"), a small island at the mouth of the Nassuttooq (Nordre Str0mfjord) on Greenland's west coast. Over the centuries, Inuit from as far north as Qeqertarsuup Tunua (Disko Bay) met with Inuit from as far south as Qaqortoq during July and August to fish Greenland halibut and to trade narwhal tusks and baleen with kry-olith and soapstone items. From Qaqortoq, the journey to Taseralik was undertaken by umiak and could take up to a year, as people often had to overwinter on their return.
During the colonial era, the aasiviit gradually lessened in significance in the annual hunting cycle. Trading posts and missionary stations contributed to a stationary lifestyle, and arduous journeys by umiak became obsolete as desirable trade goods became more easily accessible. Akilineq, for example, waned in vitality as an aasivik when the trading post at Baker Lake was established in 1914. Similarly, Taseralik diminished in social and economic importance at the end of the 19th century, even though it was used as a meeting place during the summer until 1930.
In the mid-1970s, aasiviit began to reemerge alongside a heightened political and ethnic awareness among Greenlanders, who sought to create means to express Inuit identity and culture. Greenland's first modern aasivik was established in 1976 in Narssap ilua, next to an area polluted by uranium, and was organized by Narsami Inuusuttut Ataqatigiit (Narsaq's Youth Organization) and Kalaallit Inuusuttut Ataqatigiit (The Council of Young Greenlanders). Originally planned as a music festival for young people, Narssap developed into an important forum where a vast array of political and cultural issues were collectively discussed. These issues included Danish colonialism and neocolonialism, private and collective property rights to resources, land rights, a possible Home Rule Government in Greenland, mass media, the educational system, women's roles, and the ongoing importance of Inuit culture and tradition in modern-day Greenland.
Location of Arctic indigenous peoples. From AMAP Assessment Report: Arctic Pollution Issues, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), Oslo, Norway, 1998. Reproduced with permission from AMAP.
In July 1977, the second modern-day aasivik was held in Qullissat, an abandoned settlement of coal miners on Qeqertarsuaq (Disko Island) in the northern part of West Greenland. The aasivik was organized by the pro-independence group Inuit Brotherhood (Inuit Ataqatigiit), an organization formed in 1971 that later became one of Greenland's most important political parties. National and international political issues were raised at Qullissat, and artists (musicians, actors, poets, painters, and sculptors) exhibited their work to the several hundred participants.
In the decades since the 1970s, greater numbers of annual aasiviit helped to combat political apathy in Greenland. During an Inuit Brotherhood meeting in November 1978, the aasivik was described as "a cultural, political, and scientific forum for the Greenlandic people, the Kalaallit, to defend their indigenous and historical rights ..." (Rasmussen, 1979: 371). But while the aasiviit of the 1970s and 1980s played a key role in Greenland's nation building, the aasiviit of the 1990s gradually lost immediate political importance and served more as cultural summer festivals, where all kinds of Greenlandic musical styles, from ethnic drum dance to folk, rock, pop, beat, reggae, and rap, were performed. While the aasiviit's political dimension may have diminished, they remain strong life signs of a dynamic Greenlandic culture and identity.
See also Greenland; Inuit Ataqatigiit; Music (Traditional Indigenous); Umiak
Gr0nnow, Bjarne, Morten Meldgaard & J0rn Berglund Nielsen, "Aasivissuit—The Great Summer Camp. Archaeological, Ethnographical and Zoo-Archaeological Studies of a Caribou-Hunting Site in West Greenland." Meddelelser om Grönland. Man and Society, Copenhagen: Ny Nordisk Forlag—Arnold Busck, No. 50, 1983 Kramer, Finn Erik, "Om at udleede sig blandt saa mange ski0n-heder en brud: Aasiviit-sammenkomsterne pä Taseralik i Sismiut-distriktet." Grönland, Charlottenlund: Det Gr0nlandske Selskab, 1992, No. 3, pp. 77-97 Rasmussen, Hans-Erik, "Aasiviit: de kulturelle og politiske sommerstaevner i Gr0nland." Jordens Folk, Etnografisk Revy, 1979, No. 4, pp. 361-372
Indigenous people are experiencing rapid and extensive political, economic, and cultural change in the 21st century. Individually and in communities, regions, nations, and international or interregional organizations, they are finding ways to continue, restore, or revive their cultures and maintain their identities while adapting to and influencing a changing world. In parts of Greenland, Arctic Canada, Siberia, and Fennoscandia, they continue to lead at least partly nomadic lives—gathering, hunting, and camping seasonally in largely traditional ways. However faithfully people may follow the old ways, they often combine traditional approaches with current technology: for instance, the use of snowmobiles in lieu of dog sleds in places where the machines are more effective (in some locations, such as sea-ice-bound parts of Greenland, dog teams are safer and more effective).
A strong sense of aboriginal identity persists regardless of the particularities of adaptation and change. Many indigenous people are wage earners and some have no memory of nomadic life. Yet Saami, Siberian peoples, Alaska Natives, Dene and Tlingit of northern Canada and Yukon, and others follow the pattern that Mark Nuttall and Louis-Jacques Dorais have identified with regard to Inuit in Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat) and Canada (in Nunavut—the eastern Arctic homeland and Nunavik—Inuit northern Québec): despite social and cultural changes, Inuit still identify themselves as Inuit (Nuttall, 1992; Dorais, 1997). They have found ways to adopt and adapt without losing their sense of cultural continuity and identity and are creating newly shared identities as well. As Nuttall points out, the construction of "national" identities (e.g., of Greenland and Nunavut) relies upon combining fact with fiction. There are shared cultural practices and experiences, but the construction of a nationalist identity would seem to require a fictional universality that obscures or obliterates difference.
Cultural, social, and political identities are flexible and dynamic. With heterogeneous societies, individuals maintain multiple identities. Indigenous people interpret this multiplicity and heterogeneity in different ways. Some Saami consider themselves Saami first and Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, or Russian second; some cite nationality first and Saami identity second. Still others consider religion to be paramount. Comparable identity clusters are found among indigenous peoples in Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada.
The international movement of indigenous peoples has fostered important social, political, and technological innovations and produced organizations such as the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) and the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. Although culturally distinct, there are experiences common to these communities. A primary concern is to find ways to balance respect for cultural specificity and continuity within the context of broader regional cultural communities, pan-Arctic and international organizations.
Language is an important part of identity formation, but its particular uses in the development and maintenance of cultural identity vary widely. In many parts of the Arctic, revival of indigenous languages has signaled or accompanied political and cultural revival. Elsewhere, as Harjo and Bird (1998) claim in the title of their co-edited collection, postcolonial peoples are "reinventing the enemy's language." Speaking one's traditional language is part of the picture, but is not essential, they argue, to identity maintenance.
Written language presents altogether different problems. In addition to religion, missionaries brought writing systems, education, and health care that often complemented, rather than replaced, traditional ways of learning and promoting health. Within the ICC there has been a protracted debate over whether to adopt a universal writing system. Siberian peoples use the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet, Greenlanders use roman orthography, and Inuit in Nunavik and Nunavut use a syllabic system originally developed for Cree and adapted for Inuktitut. This syllabic system has been in place for several generations, and many people now consider it "traditional" and are deeply attached to it (an example of "tradition" applied to what outsiders would call "inauthentic" practice). An opposing prevalent opinion holds that all Inuit should adopt the system used in Greenland, because it is more widely accessible and has enabled Greenland to produce a substantial body of published work. Greenland's private publisher, Atuakkiorfik, has published more than 100 books.
Naming is one aspect of language use that most strongly reflects and affects cultural continuity. Throughout northern Greenland there are places named after kings, queens, and explorers; names indicate ownership by a person or group and, more importantly, they establish power and territorial claim (Nuttall, 1992: 50). According to Harold Issacs,
Recent political change has brought name changes to many places ... the Russians have begun to erase Chinese names from the territory of eastern Siberia ... Nine cities and towns and two hundred and fifty rivers and mountains that had retained their Chinese names for more than a century suddenly acquired brand-new Russian names in 1973 ... altered history has led to much renaming. (Isaacs, 1989: 74)
In 1987, the official name of Frobisher Bay was changed to Iqaluit. The change reasserted Inuit sovereignty and removed the name of a visitor (the 16th-century explorer Martin Frobisher) from the map and, metaphorically speaking, the mental landscape. It heralded a greater change to come, that is, the creation of the Canadian territory named for the Inuit homeland, Nunavut (meaning "our land"). As this 1987 letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail (Canada's national newspaper) from a retired Navy Captain illustrates, name changes such as that of the Nunavut homeland can be particularly destabilizing to nations and the institutions that govern them:
The threat to change thousands of northern place names is disturbing ... So also is the news that responsibility for naming geographic features in the Northwest Territories has been surrendered by Ottawa. I am dismayed at the sanctioning of this assault on the history of the Arctic, our collective Northern heritage. (Pullen, 1987)
The author's choice of the words "surrendered" and "assault" implies a sort of (imagined) military victory. The phrase "our collective Northern heritage" implies that indigenous and European northerners are equal inheritors of the northern land- and "namescape"—the identity map of a region's personal and place names. But in the region to which he refers, Inuit represent an 85% majority and have been settled for thousands of years, while European visitors and settlers are scant, culturally diverse, and historically only recently arrived.
Nonindigenous visitors have named and renamed both land and people, as this narrative from writer Alice French illustrates:
In the spring of 1937 when I was seven years old my father told my brother and me that our mother had tuberculosis. We would have to go from Cambridge Bay to the hospital in Aklavik ... When we landed at Aklavik my mother went to the hospital and my brother and I were told we would be going to a boarding school ... [At school] an Eskimo girl ... introduced me to the other girls by my Christian name—Alice. My Eskimo name was not mentioned and I did not hear my name Masak again until I went home. (French, 1988: 204)
In Inuit tradition, a child is not considered to be a complete person until they receive an atiq or "soulname," usually given at birth. The construction of a subject's identity therefore is a complex process involving the historical customs of "naming," kinship practices, as well as spiritual beliefs. The subject's identity is thus composed of multiple layers, as the following narrative suggests:
No child is only a child. If I give my grandfather's atiq to my baby daughter, she is my grandfather. I will call her ataatassiaq, grandfather. She is entitled to call me grandson. (Brody, 1987: 139)
Long after the introduction of Christian baptism, Greenlanders continued to give their children, along with a Christian name, a Greenlandic name (Kleivan, 1984: 612).
In Canada, a series of interventions threatened the traditions governing Inuit identity. These included missionary-given baptismal (Christian) names and government-administered fingerprinting—a method previously restricted to identifying criminals, but proposed in the 1930s for all Inuit (when many Qallunaat—non-Inuit—and Inuit objected, the project was abandoned). In 1941, the Northwest Territories council approved "identification disks for Eskimos" after proposals to issue identity cards were rejected (Alia, 1994). During this period, Inuit began receiving government subsidies in the form of family allowances, and the Department of National Health and Welfare decided to define the categories "Eskimos" and "Nomads." These tautological definitions were taken to the point of bureaucratic absurdity.
Inuit identities were further affected by the beginning of northern census-taking. It followed official standards for "the Canadian family," with no consideration for Inuit family structures or traditions. Children who were full family members were suddenly relabeled "step-children" or "adoptees," and distinctions were made between "real" and "common-law" spouses—terms that had meaning only for Qallunaat. Then came Project Surname, in which Inuit were given surnames that threatened to undermine their deeply imbedded naming traditions. Young people went away to residential schools and returned home to find they were "somebody else," having been renamed in their absence. Canada was not the first country to impose surnames on indigenous people. In Siberia in the 1930s, the Soviet government gave surnames to Yuit. Like their Inupiat relatives in Alaska and Inuit throughout Canada and Greenland, Yuit had clusters of single names and no concept of surnaming. In the 1960s, the Danish Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs gave surnames to Polar Inuit.
In traditional Inuit society, land and person are almost inseparable; the world is divided not between persons and places but between named and unnamed things. The particular band or dialect group is defined by a prefix followed by a common suffix, -miut ("the people of" or "the inhabitants of").
Old boundaries are shifting or are contained within larger frameworks of regional, national, or pan-Arctic groupings. In 1973, Denmark hosted the Arctic Peoples' Conference with participants including Saami organizations from Norway, Sweden and Finland, organizations from Greenland, and Inuit and Dene organizations from the Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada (in the midst of land claims negotiations, the Alaska Federation of Natives was unable to participate). This led to the 1977 founding of the ICC. Dedicated to a pan-Arctic identity, ICC declared itself under four flags: United States, Canadian, Greenlandic, and Russian—although at the time, indigenous Siberians could not attend. At each assembly an empty chair and Soviet flag were placed at the head of the room. In 1989, the chair was finally occupied when Siberians were permitted to attend the assembly at Sisimiut, Greenland, as unofficial delegates; in 1992, Siberian Inuit became full ICC members.
Transcultural and international projects and structures do not replace culturally specific ones, or obliterate the need to maintain and strengthen particular languages and cultures. In a now-famous and muchquoted speech, the Inuk journalist and political leader Rosemarie Kuptana said that indigenous people needed their own broadcasting outlets, which she considered essential to maintaining aboriginal identities. She said existing programming was inappropriate and inadequate, and compared nonindigenous television to a neutron bomb that destroys the soul of a people but leaves the physical bodies standing, with a superficial impression that they are still intact (Alia, 1999). Kuptana was one of the visionaries who lobbied for— and helped create—aboriginal broadcasting in Canada and throughout the Arctic and Subarctic regions.
Among the other projects that help to strengthen and communicate aboriginal identities are various museum, education, and public information projects. The Saami museum in Inari, Finland, was originally an open-air exhibit in the 1960s. In 1998, it was expanded to a permanent structure serving both the indigenous community and visiting tourists. Its development was directed by Saami, who named it Siida, or village. It features exhibitions on life ways, history, geology, economy, and culture with texts in Saami, Finnish, English, and German. The complex includes a theater, library, restaurant, and craft shop, which sells only crafts marked by the label "Saami duodji," guaranteeing that they are made by Saami. This labeling system parallels the "Eskimo" (now Inuit) igloo label developed in Canada along with the marketing of Inuit art.
Such labels, intended to guarantee "authenticity," raise further questions of the nature of authenticity but help to curtail the rampant appropriation and sale of pseudo-indigenous products. The Canadian "igloo" was originally government supervised; it guarantees authentic Inuit construction but not quality, price, or artist's percentage—artists selling through galleries lose substantially compared to those selling directly. The "Saami duodji" label is a Saami-controlled way of establishing identification, but like the Canadian label cannot guarantee quality or price. In both cases, the crafts are almost exclusively created for, and sold to, nonindigenous people.For this reason alone, one may question their authenticity, since many items are copies of utilitarian objects used in people's daily lives (e.g., the Inuit woman's knife or ulu sold widely as a tourist item).
Karasjok, Norway, is host to the Sápmi theme park, which encompasses the Stálubákti Spirit Rock Theatre, a "Saami village," an underground turf restaurant, two hotels, and the ubiquitous craft shop. The restaurant serves traditional foods to diners seated on reindeer-skin-covered benches at communal log tables, and the ambience is enhanced by an open fire and recorded Joik (traditional music). The theater offers a multimedia show that uses new technologies to tell old stories. Saami set the agenda and control the communication of their identity for a tourist market. Nevertheless, it is an agenda for conveying Saami-ness to outsiders more than a way of continuing Saami culture for Saami (George, "Sami cash in without selling out," p. 13). It can be argued that such projects enrich the community as well—not just economically— because they require the gathering, preserving, and communicating of stories, artifacts, and practices. At the very least, they provide an opportunity to change old touristic patterns. As Loretta Todd remarked in her film The Learning Path, "It is time for ... society to view us not as dying cultures, but dynamic cultures. Despite policies of assimilation, we have survived" (Todd, 1991).
A successful ethnopolitical movement needs a "language of signs, symbols and categorizations which have a bearing on identity management," which Harald Eidheim calls idioms (Eidheim, 1971: 71). The idioms that the Saami chose to establish a new ethnic border between Norwegian and Saami societies included language, national dress, folk music, and traditional industries such as reindeer herding, fishing, and small-scale farming. These were supported by two Kautokeino institutions, the Saami Regional (teachers') College and the Saami Institute, which fosters its own research and collaborative projects with several universities on Saami history, language, and law. The cultural revival also led to the creation of Samediggi (Saami Parliament)—actually an advisory body linked to the Norwegian Parliament, and a separate administrative area with two official languages, Norwegian and Saami. There are also Saami parliaments in Finland and Sweden.
In Finland in 1993, the University of Helsinki inaugurated a Saami studies program. In 1995, the University of Uppsala, Sweden, opened a Department of Reindeer Herding. Without disputing the importance of this program, Saami are also trying to educate the public about the fact that, despite the nearly universal association of Sápmi with reindeer herding, a much higher proportion of Saami are engaged in fishing and other activities.
Changes in speaking and thinking about identity and its terminology accompany the other developments. Anthropologists, including this author, have noted the shift from Eskimo to Inuit and from Greenlander to Kalaallit. The current preference for Saami (the people) and Sápmi (the region) replaces the earlier designations of "Laplanders," "Lapps," and "Lapland," "Lapp" being a derogatory term meaning "a patch of fabric used in mending."
In Chukotka, in northeastern Siberia (across the Bering Strait from Alaska), an indigenous cultural revival has emerged over the past few decades, beginning in the late 1970s. Ironically, it was Stalin's policy of bringing enlightenment to the peoples of the north that encouraged the first generation of university-educated indigenous Siberians. They included the first Nanai novelist Grigori Khodzher (born in 1929), the first Nivkh writer, the poet Vladimir Sangi (born in 1935), and the "founder of modern-day Chukchi literature" Yuri Rytkheu (born in 1930) (Barker, 1993: 216-217). Rytkheu has said that Chukchi traditions have no place in contemporary literature or life, yet he writes in both Chukchi and in Russian and has—espe-cially in later works—done much to contribute to the preservation of Chukchi identity and culture. Others, such as the poet Antonina Kymytval, write only in indigenous languages.
Since the 1960s, Greenlandic writers and musicians have recorded and published their works in their own language. As in Russia, this has meant narrowing the audiences for literary works, but an international audience for indigenous-language music has grown remarkably since the 1980s. Greenland's highly developed recording industry, Canada's aboriginal broadcasting program, and the burgeoning World Music movement have all contributed to this phenomenon. Albums and concerts by the Canadian duo Kashtin have been internationally successful despite the fact that nearly all of their songs are in the Innu language, which has only a small number of speakers. The award-winning Northern Tutchone singer Jerry Alfred has taken the traditional songs and themes of his home—Pelly Crossing, Yukon (population: about 500)—to the world, although he sings almost exclusively in his own language. Like many other indigenous musicians, he uses a mix of instruments, including European ones (guitar, violin or fiddle, bass, and an array of traditional and other percussions). The Saami songwriter-singer Mari Boine has also attracted a broadly multicultural, international audience, although most of her songs are in Saami. While using this medium to express and celebrate her Saami identity, she has, at the same time, experimented across cultural and musical boundaries (e.g., in her work with the jazz musician Jan Garbarek).
Canadian Inuit such as William Tagoona say that they were influenced to write in Inuktitut instead of in French or English by the pioneering work of such
Kalaallit (Greenlandic) songwriters as Rasmus Lyberth. The award-winning Cree playwright Tomson Highway includes some Cree dialogue in each of his predominantly English-language plays. He has said that his purpose is to show outsiders the beauty of the language, and also to make a political point. This simultaneous reaching out to outsiders and the celebration of one's specific cultural roots characterizes much of today's indigenous art-making. By communicating both inward and outward, indigenous artists are strengthening the affirmation of their communities' and peoples' identities while increasing others' respect for, and understanding of, those identities.
Such projects are not problem free or universally appreciated. Writers, singers, and visual artists are sometimes criticized by members of their own communities for "stealing" stories or publicizing private or inappropriate material. The much-acclaimed Alaska Native writer Velma Wallis was accused of making private stories public by the very act of publishing them, which allowed a broader public to appreciate her writing. Some elders told her that the stories belonged in the oral tradition and were not for outsiders. Indigenous singers have been taken to task for "selling" or "giving away" songs that belonged to particular families (sometimes their own). Salish peoples of the United States and Canadian northwest coast keep certain songs within particular families, and only members of those families are permitted to learn and sing them; within that tradition, any effort to make the songs available for strangers to learn is seen as a risk to the cultural maintenance, identity, and integrity of the community.
Indigenous people living in urban areas are changing their sense of identity in the overall climate of cultural revitalization. A 2001 study of Canadian Inuit living in Montreal found that despite various levels of language loss and loss of culture, "urban Inuit still identify as Inuit," and the Montreal Inuit Association helps maintain cultural continuity.
In Yakutia, a 2001 study found indigenous identities to be fluid and flexible, with people changing ethnic identities based on political or social advantage. The result is that some people self-identify, for example, as Evenki or Chukchi, although they may speak other languages (George, "How do you know you're an Inuk?," p. 25). Similarly, Labrador Inuit of mixed parentage have identified as Inuit and as Euro-Canadian, depending on the social conditions. Norwegian Saami of mixed parentage may identify themselves as Saami or Norwegian, depending on the circumstances. It is presumptuous to advocate preserving an archaic culture in a vacuum, apart from the changing realities of the modern world. The image of the tourist's "aboriginal" in sealskin or fur, singing traditional songs, bears little relevance to the ways most indigenous people identify themselves. In much of northern Canada, Alaska, and Greenland, "country" music is far more prevalent than the more "authentic" drumming and throat singing that is invariably imported to southern festivals (with singers suffering the discomfort of caribou parkas and sealskin mukluks in southern heat!). The old "whaler dances" found in Greenland and Nunavut derive from a marriage of British and Inuit cultures.
In the writing of outsiders, indigenous identities are often misunderstood as feathers, furs, and fantasy. But indigenous traditionalism as Gail Guthrie Valaskakis has described it is not these; nor is it lost in transformation or revived as a privileged expression of resistance. It is an instrumental code to action knitted into the fabric of everyday life. ... (Valaskakis, 1988: 268)
And according to Joy Harjo and Gloria Bird,
Many of us at the end of the [20th] century are using the "enemy language" with which to tell our truths, to sing, to remember ourselves during these troubled times ... . These colonizers' languages, which often usurped our own tribal languages or diminished them, now hand back emblems of our cultures ... We've transformed these enemy languages. (Harjo and Bird, 1998: 21-22)
Identities and cultures are complex and ever-changing. We need to rethink the idea that missionaries and governments "conquered" indigenous peoples. Religious and social customs of the colonizers did not necessarily subsume or subordinate those of aboriginal people—there is far more mutual accommodation and mutual learning than is often acknowledged. Referring to Greenland, the anthropologist Mark Nuttall observed that aspects of the existing traditional cosmology, such as name beliefs ... still lie beneath the surface, having been glossed over with the veneer of European Christianity. During the time of the early missionaries the two belief systems probably existed side by side. ... (Nuttall, 1992: 60)
And finally the Inuit leader John Amagoalik wrote:
It may be true that the physical part of our culture has been eroded to the point where it can never return to its full potential. But the non-physical part of our culture— our attitude towards life, our respect for nature, our realization that others will follow who deserve the respect and concern of present generations—[is] deeply entrenched ... . (Amagoalik, 1988: 210)
See also Education; Images of Indigenous Peoples; Inuit Broadcasting Corporation; Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC); Kinship; Media; Music (Traditional Indigenous); Naming; Place-Names
Alia, Valerie, Names, Numbers and Northern Policy: Inuit, Project Surname, and the Politics of Identity, Halifax: Fernwood, 1994
-, Un/covering the North: News, Media, and Aboriginal
People, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1999
Amagoalik, John, "Will the Inuit Disappear from the Face of This Earth?." In Northern Voices: Inuit Writing in English, edited by Penny Petrone, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988
Barker, Adele, "The Divided Self: Yuri Rytkheu and Contemporary Chukchi Literature." In Between Heaven and Hell: The Myth of Siberia in Russian Culture, edited by Galya Diment and Yuri Slezkine, New York: St Martin's Press, 1993
Brody, Hugh, Living Arctic, London: Faber & Faber, 1997 Burgess, Marilyn & Gail Guthrie Valaskakis, Indian Princesses and Cowgirls: Stereotypes from the Frontier, Montreal: OBORO, 1995
Crowe, Keith, A History of the Original Peoples of Northern Canada (revised edition), Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1991 Dorais, Louis-Jacques, Quaqtaq: Modernity and Identity in an Inuit Community, Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
Eidheim, Harald, Aspects of the Lappish Minority Situation,
Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1971 Freeman, Minnie Aodla, Life Among the Qallunaat, Edmonton: Hurtig, 1978
French, Alice, "My Name is Masak." In Petrone, op. cit., 1988, p. 203
Gaski, Harald (editor), Sami Culture in a New Era: The Norwegian Sami Experience, Karasjok, Norway: Davvi Girgi OS, 1997
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June 29, 2001, p. 13 Gilberg, Rolf, "Polar Eskimo." In Damas, op. cit., 1984, pp. 577-594
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Shirley Adamson has fought to give nonstatus Indians a political voice since the 1970s. Born into the Ta'an Kwatchan First Nation in the Yukon Territory in 1952, Adamson's goal as a young woman was to be the matriarch of a large family and live in the bush (forest) on her traditional territory.
The federal government's White Paper of 1969 changed the trajectory of her life. Yukon aboriginal people began to organize against this assimilation policy and Adamson found herself elected to the Executive Council of the Yukon Association of nonstatus Indians in 1975. Adamson was responsible for administering the program dollars allocated to nonstatus Indians for health, education, and housing. Adamson then moved into the national field as a board member on the Native Council of Canada.
In the 1980s, Adamson worked as a journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in the Yukon, a job that enabled her to tell the story of Yukon First Nation people. With her connections she was able to attend community meetings and gather information not available to nonnative journalists. During her tenure with CBC, Adamson demanded, and got, more airtime for aboriginal issues, which she felt had previously been ghettoized into a small time slot. She also resisted the demands by her superiors to broadcast in her own language. Adamson wanted First Nation issues to be heard by nonnative Yukoners as well.
During her nine years with CBC, Adamson spent four years on the negotiating team for the union that represented employees. She was the first aboriginal, and first woman, to hold that position from the north. Adamson won better health and dental benefits for status Indians from the Northwest Territories under their union's collective agreement.
In the late 1980s, she worked for the Council of Yukon Indians to translate the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) into a layperson's language. The UFA is the framework within which all of the Yukon's 14 First Nations will conclude a final claim settlement.
Adamson became the Communications Adviser for the Council of Yukon Indians, with the responsibility of briefing Members of Parliament in Ottawa and the national media about the UFA to facilitate its passage. Members of her First Nation then asked Adamson to become the chair, which is similar to the role of chief.
At the time, the Ta'an Kwatchan were not recognized by the federal government as an Indian Act band and had little funding to operate. Once again, Adamson went to Canada's capital city to ask parliamentarians for a special clause in the final agreements that would allow Ta'an to negotiate self-government agreements. She established Ta'an Kwatchan Council financially and negotiated a land-swap with the city of Whitehorse that affords habitat protection to a lake that had previously been slated for a sewage lagoon. Adamson also secured some prime real estate within the city of Whitehorse limits for her First Nation.
In the mid-1990s, Adamson was elected as the vice-chief of the Assembly of First Nations, becoming the only nonstatus Indian in that organization. She was responsible for intergovernmental affairs and veterans affairs. Adamson fought for compensation for aboriginal war veterans who were denied benefits that non-native veterans received.
From 1996 to 1999, Adamson served as the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations (formerly known as the Council of Yukon Indians). In this capacity Adamson also fought against federal gun control legislation and dealt with a crisis in the relationship between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the First Nation peoples of the Yukon.
Since 2000, Adamson has been the general manager of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon. She is currently lobbying the federal government to recognize her organization as the aboriginal equivalent of CBC. Adamson is also a director with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and is a governor of the University of the Arctic. All aspects of her work have involved telling the stories of her people, and fighting for their rights and recognition.
Shirley Adamson was born in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada, in 1952. Her mother Irene Adamson is Ta'an Kwatchan and her father John Adamson is coastal Tlingit and nonnative. She was raised in a traditional lifestyle by her grandparents Celia and Frankie Jim at Lake Laberge.
In ecological terms, adaptation is an acquired trait (anatomical, physiological, or behavioral) of a species that improves its survival in a particular environment, or the evolutionary process by which a species acquires such traits in order to increase the possibility of survival and reproduction in those conditions. The Arctic's extreme physical environment with low temperatures, deep and persistent snow, a short growing season, and food scarcity in winter means that Arctic organisms must become adapted to sparse and/or periodic food supplies. For example, birds and mammals are superbly insulated against the cold, thereby reducing their metabolic and hence food requirements.
Mechanisms for acquiring adaptations represent one of the most important problems in biology. The origin and evolution of adaptations has been explained as an immanent feature of living beings, and by material factors operating in evolution, such as direct heritable change of acquired features (Lamarckism) and the selection of the best-adapted genotypes. According to the latter theory, based on Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, the material for selection of adaptive characteristics is supplied by the chance inheritable variability of genetic material (mutations). Those mutations that improve the adaptability of individuals to a particular environment (e.g., giving it more resources in competition with others) are favored by natural selection, and individuals with such genotypes survive to pass on their genes to the next generation. Although natural selection is not a cause of variability of organisms, it influences the frequency of certain genotypes, operating not only at the level of individuals but also at various levels of groups of organisms, such as populations and species. This theory faces serious difficulties in explaining the origin and evolution of complex adaptations, such as eyes of vertebrates, and wings.
Some adaptive features of organisms may be explained within the concept of preadaptation, when an adaptive trait is acquired in an environment without selective pressures before it becomes adaptive in other conditions. The concept of preadaptation is very important in explaining the history of Arctic fauna and flora. For example, a high tolerance of lower plants and fungi to external factors and their ability to enter inactive or active conditions is very important for their existence in the Arctic. Nevertheless, groups with these features originated beyond the Arctic and beyond the cold climate. Most probably, they were preadapted for penetration into the Arctic and dispersal there.
The tundras and Arctic deserts contain a relatively high diversity of the groups that are relatively primitive within corresponding higher taxa: for example, Rosaceae and Cruciferae from Dicotyledones; Collembola from Insecta; as well as fungi, mosses, and lichens. These relatively primitive or simple groups displayed wide adaptive radiation in the Arctic due to wide ecological plasticity and best adaptability there.
Adaptations are specific not only for species but also for ecological morphs and ontogenetic stages or phases (coenogenetic adaptations, that is, specific embryonic and larval adaptations). There are general adaptations, that is, adaptations to habitat (e.g., fins in aquatic animals or extremities of terrestrial vertebrates), and particular adaptations, that is, adaptations operating in a specific environment (e.g., extremities of burrowing animals and structures allowing the flight of seeds in some plants). Although adaptation concerns individual organisms, it may be expressed not only at the level of the individual but also at the level of various spatial groups of individuals, for example, species, population, shoal, or herd. There are ontogenetic adaptations (acquiring the adaptive features based on the existing norm of reaction during individual life) and phylogenetic adaptations (by genotypic transformation and acquiring a new norm of reaction).
Various biological parameters of organisms may have adaptive value in particular conditions: biochemistry and physiology of an organism, morphology, reproductive behavior, and other behaviors such as seasonal cycle, migrations, habitat distribution, feeding, etc.
Specific biochemical and physiological adaptations may play a very important role for organisms living in cold environments. In animals, hibernation corresponds to a significant decrease in metabolism, retardation of neural reactions, and a decrease in breathing, heart activity, and temperature. Hibernation, typical for some mammals, or winter diapause in insects, may have periodic awakenings, especially if some conditions are changed (e.g., increase in environmental temperature, flooding). Some poikilothermic (i.e., organisms whose body temperature is similar to environmental temperature) terrestrial animals living in the Arctic and Subarctic conditions are capable of relatively fast accumulation of cryoprotectants (special substances preventing fast freezing and formation of ice crystals destroying cells). They are able to survive extracellular freezing, an important adaptation during cold winters. For example, the Siberian newt (Salamandrella keyserlingii) seems to be the most cold-tolerant amphibian in the world: adult individuals are able to survive freezing to -35°C to -40°C. Biochemical analysis has revealed seasonal changes in concentrations of the cryoprotectant glycerol related to its use during hibernation. After the cryoprotectant has been reallocated by tissues, the animal may hibernate at very low temperatures without freezing of tissues. Glycogen, the source of glycerol, must be stored during the active period, but seasonal preparation of the organism for hibernation is also important: the animal will die of freezing in experimental conditions outside the prehibernation and hibernation seasons. Siberian newts, as well as frogs occurring in the Arctic, lose their locomotory activity at lower temperatures than amphibian species living in more southerly latitudes: they can move even at +0.5°C to +1°C. This peculiarity is especially important at the end of hibernation, when the animals have to undertake breeding migrations in unstable weather conditions when frosts may recur unpredictably. When Siberian newts are quickly unfrozen, ice crystals thaw and fill their organisms with excessive water, which is dangerous. However, when the body temperature rises gradually, the animals become active without harmful consequences. Studies on brown frogs from different latitudes revealed that Subarctic populations have much higher enzyme activity, which decreases less with falling temperature than related Subarctic populations. The adaptive value of maintaining appropriate enzyme activity at lower temperatures is clear. Chemical and physical thermoregulation is very important for mammals and birds, which have to maintain a relatively constant body temperature in cold environments. However, even homeothermic animals are able to change their body temperatures slightly as an adaptation to specific conditions. For example, some birds may reduce their body temperature by 1-2°C below the mean temperature during the inactive period of egg incubation, which is related to reduced energy requisites in this time. On the other hand, the temperature may increase by about 1°C during migration.
Arctic fish have also developed cryoprotectants, possibly independently of fish in the Antarctic Ocean who have nearly identical antifreeze proteins. It is however debated whether Arctic and Antarctic fish display higher metabolic rates as a metabolic cold adaptation.
Arctic plants also display some biochemical peculiarities. Arctic bacteria and fungi have higher enzyme activity as an adaptation to cold. The plants have increased respiration ability, increased expenses to maintenance, and an environmentally dependent shift of heat tolerance of respiration. Local Leguminosae have a higher rate of accumulation of low-molecular-weight carbohydrates and nitrogen from the soil and an earlier start to prepare for winter. These peculiarities increase their resistance to cold.
Some adaptations of organisms to Arctic conditions are displayed in their morphology (external appearance or internal structure). It is well known that Arctic birds and mammals have a thicker fat layer and denser fuzz or fur than related temperate species. Small downy feathers are positioned below the contour feathers. The stem of down feathers is thin and the bar-bules are absent, which results in the lack of a close plate constructed by the vein of the feather. In many cases, the stem of the downy feather is so short that the barbules starting from it form a single beam. Such a feather is called true down. Its main function is to minimize heat loss and to maintain constant body temperature in cold conditions. True down is most developed in birds living in cold regions, and especially in the Arctic. The needlelike feathers are positioned among the down. These feathers represent the down feather without barbules. The feather cover is subject to regular change (molting). As a rule, only part of the cover is molted. Molting has different functions in different habitats and geographic regions, and the change from summer to winter plumage is one aspect. Summer and winter feathers have different lengths and densities; there are also some structural variations. For example, the length of contour feathers on the back of the willow grouse (Lagopus lagopus) averaged 5.4 cm in winter and 3.8 cm in summer, while the down part is 1.8 and 1.4 cm, respectively. Molting birds sometimes form very large and dense aggregations in the Arctic regions as elsewhere. For example, some ducks, geese, and swans concentrate in groups of several thousand individuals in poorly accessible areas of rivers, lakes, and sea coasts for molting. This is conditioned by a scarcity of places where they can stay while molting, when their vulnerability to potential predators is increased.
The eider (Somatheria mollissima) is a typical Arctic bird well adapted to life in cold climates. It is connected with coasts only at the time of nesting, spending the whole of the resting time in the sea. Its light and dense down is well known for its insulating features. The down is concentrated on the bird's belly, the area most in contact with the cold environment (sea water, coastal rocks, snow, and soil). In addition to the down, a thick fat layer and a system of air sacs surrounding the body prevent the overcooling of this bird. The sacs also act like a hydrostatic apparatus, which increases the buoyancy after submersion of the bird into water. The down of these birds is widely used for stuffing clothes and bedding.
Mammals display a variation of hair cover in relation to environmental conditions. Many Arctic mammals have denser low fur, or an undercoat, which decreases heat loss during winter. Another adaptation represents, in contrast, a significant reduction of the undercoat with a significant development of the main hairs. This is connected usually with a more pronounced development of the fat layer (e.g., in marine mammals) or dense hair cover on the skin in terrestrial and semiaquatic mammals that, together with other mechanisms, allow them to avoid significant heat loss at very low air and/or water temperatures. For example, the Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) is able to withstand exposures to -80°C for 1 h with no fall in internal temperature. As with the birds, molting also occurs in Arctic mammals in relation to season change. However, the mechanisms are different, and the vulnerability of molting individuals is decreased in mammals because they tend not to concentrate in particular habitats during molting.
Some skeletal structures may also serve as adaptations to Arctic conditions. The males of the narwhal (Monodon monoceros) use their tusks for breaking holes in the ice to allow the pod access to atmospheric air. Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) feed on plants not only in snowless but also in snowy seasons. In the latter case, it is difficult to dig up plants from the snow, sometimes from depths of 70-80 cm, when only the back of the foraging animal is visible. To alleviate the digging of snow, the foreleg hoofs are grown to the winter period, with an acute edge and concave surface. Such a hoof shape is an important adaptation for digging up food. Female reindeer do not lose their antlers in winter, and this allows them to defend the food in the hole in snow from other individuals. When the female is grazing, her head is directed downwards and the antlers close the dig hole. This is important under conditions of low food availability in winter.
Geographical races of homeothermic animals (i.e., warm-blooded birds and mammals) living in areas with a colder climate are larger in body size (Bergmann's rule). Protruding parts of the body (tails, ears, limbs, etc.) in this group of animals tend to be shorter in the northern species (Allen's rule). Both these rules reflect adaptation to minimize heat loss under cold climatic conditions. The larger the volume/surface ratio, the lower the losses of heat, and hence the higher the advantages for life in a cold climate. In the south, in warm climate, this ratio should be minimized to increase heat losses and to prevent overheating of the organism. Some species of birds and mammals do not conform to these rules because some of their morphological, ecological, and etholog-ical features play a more important role than physical proportions in their thermoregulation. For example, the yak (Bos grunniens), acclimatized in Yakutia, uses its long and hairy tail as a "mattress" when lying on the snow. Similarly the sousliks are the most "long-tailed": they use their tails as a "blanket" during hibernation. Nevertheless, both the rules describe a general tendency, which cannot be a matter of chance. These trends have evolved independently in different taxo-nomic groups as an adaptation to similar environmental conditions.
White coloration is a typical cryptic (i.e., hiding) coloration of northern animals (e.g., polar owls, polar bears, etc.). It makes the predator poorly visible to its prey and vice versa. In contrast to homeothermic animals, poikilothermic animals of the Arctic have poor self-thermoregulation. Hence, a better use of the external environment has higher value for these species. In many cases, individuals from northern populations of amphibians, reptiles, and insects are more dark-colored than those from the south. This concerns, for example, some reptiles that display a more frequent occurrence of melanism, that is, black coloration of the epidermis due to higher concentrations of dark pigment-containing cells, the melanophores (see Reptiles). A dark color ensures better heating of the organism by sunrays, which allows the animal to spend a shorter time basking for maintenance of its activity. The higher occurrence of melanism is also evident in highland populations of reptiles, where the environmental situation is somewhat similar to that in the Arctic. At the same time, other closely related vertebrates, fishes and amphibians, do not display a higher occurrence of melanism in the north. These animals are more connected to water bodies and/or a relatively high moisture of the terrestrial environment, and quick heating under direct sun may be rather harmful for them.
Arctic plants also display parallel evolution of morphological adaptive features. Their cells have increased volume of the cytoplasm, more mitochondria, and better developed endoplasmatic reticulum. Arctic plants often contain increased amounts of carotenoid pigments. Probably, these substances of lipid character with unsaturated double bonds increase the flexibility of chloroplast membranes, which is very important at low temperatures. In severe cold, individual plants become smaller, and straight forms are transformed into creeping, prostrate, and cushionlike forms. Such stunted forms keep plants below the snow level in winter to avoid strong winds and desiccation, and in summer keep plants to a thin boundary layer where temperatures are warmest due to heat radiated from the soil. Pubescence (hairiness) is another adaptation that many Arctic plants use to maintain warm temperatures near the plants. The rosette form of many Arctic flowers (such as Dryas integrifolia and Papaver radicatum) and herbaceous leaves is thought to act as a solar reflector, to concentrate heat to the pollen and seed, aiding floral metabolism and the reproductive process.
The growing season is relatively short in the Arctic. Much of the biological activity is confined to one to two months in the High Arctic and three to four months in the Low Arctic. This causes the necessity of quick reproduction and development in most species during a short summer.
Developmental peculiarities of plants are adapted to these severe conditions. Due to the short growing season, the full life cycle of a plant is extended through two to three seasons. Although the mass flowering of tundra plants, as well as the relatively short period from flowering to fruiting, creates an impression that the plants may perform their full life cycle during the short summer, these flowers originate from generative buds formed in the previous season. In addition, the formation of fruit in many species continues under snow. Nevertheless, when measured in active periods, this cycle takes only about five months, that is, about the same time as in the temperate belt.
Amphibian embryos and larvae develop faster in the north than in the south. This allows them to finish transformation from the embryo to the terrestrial animal during a short activity period. The growth rate usually does not exceed that in the southern populations. In addition, embryos and larvae in northern amphibian populations seem to be more tolerant to cold and, in particular, to temporary freezing in the ice. This is important because of a frequent return of frosts in northern conditions. Adult animals grow slowly due to the short active season. The latter is conditioned by a relatively long hibernation, which results in increasing longevity (expressed in years) in northern poikilothermic terrestrial vertebrates. However, the life span expressed in activity seasons should be similar to that in more southern populations. A relatively long life cycle, late maturation, and slow growth are also typical for many freshwater fishes in the Arctic.
Thus, we can see that the extension of life or its certain periods in some poikilothermic species in the Arctic is a result of only the extension of hibernation. There is also a tendency toward increasing fecundity in the northern populations of some vertebrates. A larger number of eggs in the clutch serve as "insurance" for unfavorable climatic conditions.
The reproductive cycle of the above-mentioned eiders is highly adapted to the seasonality of Arctic nature. Pairs are formed even on the way to nesting sites. The female spends a large amount of fat, stored earlier, for nesting. The nestlings appear in late spring, and about two months later begin independent life. Probably, the broods that have not developed to autumn frosts die due
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