The Arctic Shaman:

What role did they serve in their community?






The Arctic shaman, known as angakoq, served a vital role in their community as healers, spiritual guides, and mediums of information from the incomprehensible realms of the  spirit world to the Picturesque frozen landscape of the arctic. This pathfinder serves as a bibliographic guidebook that will illuminate the pathway for the inspired reader who may find themselves in the midst of a deeper interest for the subject in order that they may dive into this paper's original resources of information.

(Primary resources)

1. RAsmussen, Knud.Across Arctic America: Narrative of the Fifth Thule         Expedition. Fairbanks, AK: U of Alaska, 1999. Print.


This book was by far my primary resource for writing this paper. a greenlander Part eskimo knud rasmussen travels to the lands of the artic with a thirst to learn and connect with the eskimo people. He lives with them, eats with them, and opens himself to all aspects of their culture as he documents it every step of the way. A great read that is chocked full of valuable information about the arctic shamans. Knud encounters many different angakoqs on his journey and sees firsthand the many ways in which they serve their community.


2. RAsmussen, Knud.The netsilik eskimos: social life and spiritual culture.    Copenhagen:  gyldendalske boghandel, nordisk forlag, 1931. Print.

This too is another one of knud's accounts. As in the first one, detailed firsthand accounts are orated by various shaman. We learn of orpingalik the shaman who is also a poet and considers his songs to be “comrades in solitude.” we also learn about the importance of amulets and the way in which a shaman may prescribe them to the recipients of his treatment plan.


3. Gould, Sydney. "The Innuit." Ed. John West and Bishop G.J. Mountain. Inasmuch;             Sketches of the Beginnings of the Church of England in Canada in             Relation to the Indian and Eskimo Races. Toronto: n.p., 1917. The Newberry             LIbrary Catalogue. The Edward E. Ayer Collection. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.


This resource provided a brief and well-rounded summary of inuit culture. An introduction of the angakoq is presented, alongside a description of the inuit people's spiritual beliefs and practices. The importance of taboos are mentioned. The derisive form of eskimo is described. The importance of the angakoq's connection with the spirit realm is expressed.


4. Jackson, Sheldon, Rev. Alaska, and Missions on the North Pacific Coast. New        York: Dodd, Mead, 1880. 97+. The Newberry LIbrary Catalogue. The Edward             E. Ayer Collection. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.


“Alaska” provided a first hand account of Alaskan natives from the perspective of a christian Reverend in 1880. the content of this book supported the content of the paper with descriptions of the practice of calling upon spirit helpers by shaman, the use of drums and rattles to induce trance, alongside religious fasting, and various healing rituals. Though the information was a detailed account, it was written from a heavily close-minded christian point of view.







(Secondary resources)


5. Bancroft-Hunt, Norman. "The Half-World of the Eskimo Aleut." Shamanism in     North America. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2003. N. pag. Print.


This book was the impetus for my inspiration to write about this subject. I discovered the book at the austin public library and it just so happened that the first chapter was about shamanism of the eskimo-aleut. I became deeply intrigued and decided to dedicate my paper to the subject. Norman Bancroft hunt writes from a place of deep experience as if he is really there and knows the shaman on an intimate level. His stories spoke of the animal spirit forces called tunghat. He describes the out of body experience that a shaman goes through and the purpose this serves. He also speaks of the spirit's mischievous nature and how the shaman must be utterly skillful in order to maintain not being taken advantage of by them.


6.shamanism and spirit. Expedition Spring 46.1 (2004): 12-15. Ebsco. Web. 27 Mar.           2017.


This is an article that describes the origin of the word shaman and a description of shamanic experiences related to going out of body and experiencing hallucinations, as well as healing accounts. This was a resource that was not heavily relied on for my article, yet it backed up the information obtained from my primary resources.


7. Wissler, Clark. The American Indian. New York: McMurtrie, Douglas C., 1917.      188-91. The Newberry Library Catalogue. The Edward E. Ayer Collection.       Web. 27 Mar. 2017.


This excerpt from “The american indian”  briefly mentions the angakoq amongst a few sentences scattered throughout.  This resource zooms out into  a kaleidoscope view of various shamanic cultures. “The american indian,” though considered to be of primary source status, truly served to build my knowledge base about shamanism in general.



This Pathfinder was developed by Austin Community College Honors Student: Silver Spirit