Inua

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In Inuit mythology, an inua (ᐃᓄᐊ; plural inuat ᐃᓄᐊᑦ, literally "possessor" or "master") is a spirit or soul that exists in all people, animals, lakes, mountains, and plants. They were sometimes personified in mythology. The concept is similar to mana. For Arctic people, human and animals are equal - All life has the same kind of soul or "life essence" (inua). This creates a predicament that, in order to survive people must kill other creatures that are like them. Recognition of this dilemma lies at the centre of hunting practice, which is based upon respect and reciprocity. The hunter will only succeed if the animal chooses to give its life as a gift in return for moral and respectful behaviour on the part of the whole community. For example, after a seal has been killed fresh water is poured into its mouth so that its soul will not be thirsty and it will tell the other seals of the respect shown to it.

Among the Yup'ik near Kuskokwim Bay of Coastal Alaska, the word yua (absolutive case form of the word yuk "human; human-like spirit") has similar connotations as that of the Iñupiaq of Northern Alaska, who similar to the Inuit call it iñua or inua. For both the Yup'iak and Iñupiaq, the meaning is closest to an understanding of a world in which "Most Arctic peoples believe all the world is animate, and that animals have souls or spirits", (Berlo and Phillips 161) a foundational belief of the continuum and inter-connectivity of all life and spirit of all that which is, that which has been, and that which is yet to be.

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References[edit]

Berlo, Janet C. (1998). Native North American Art. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-284218-3.