Inuit Inukshuk Symbolizes Vancouver's Olympics - But Who's Cashing In?

Vancouver Olympic Logo; Authentic Inuit Inukshuk (

The ubiquitous symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada comes from an ancient cultural icon and practical tool of the Inuit people – the inukshuk. An inukshuk is a stack of stones traditionally used by the Inuit of the arctic to mark anything from a hunting spot to a food cache. In 2005, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Olympics chose a multicolored humanoid version of an inukshuk as the games' official 2010 emblem.

That set off a flurry of commercialization that has seen the inukshuk placed on an incredible variety of products and displays, including;

Key chains, bottle openers, T-shirts, snow globes, playing cards, and rain gear for dogs

The Inukie Cookie, which lets you build your own inukshuk out of maple-flavored shortbread

The Vancouver Aquarium’s 10-foot-high inukshuk made out of 4,368 cans of sustainably fished salmon and tuna

Canadian Tire Corp.’s $38.00 inukshuk garden statue

Richmond, BC’s six-story inukshuk built from several empty cargo containers

Chocolatier Daniel’s 320-pound inukshuk made of solid Belgian chocolate

No official program exists to provide a share of inukshuk product revenue to First Nations. However, some 1,000 Inuit carvers in the arctic territory of Nunavut have been hired to make authentic inukshuit for sale at the Olympics, says Dennis Kim, head of merchandising for the Vancouver Organizing Committee. A 15½-inch statue costs around $1,880.

Can Theft Of Native Culture Occur - On Ice-Skating Costumes?

(Nick Verreos)

Russian figure-skaters Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin are among the favorites to win gold at next month's Winter Olympics in Vancouver. However, the costumes and skating routine they have chosen have provoked less-favorable reviews from Aboriginal scholars and activists. The theme for their ice-dancing routine is intended as a tribute to Aboriginal peoples, with the skaters wearing suits with Native-inspired designs and their music featuring samples of Aboriginal instruments.

Despite good intentions, the pair have been criticized for co-opting cultural traditions without due respect or understanding. Bev Manton, chairwoman of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, declared the skaters had misappropriated "a foreign culture, and used [it] inappropriately." "We see it as stealing Aboriginal culture," said Sol Bellear, a member of the Aboriginal Land Council.

Indigenous Groups Oppose 2010 Winter Olympics On Native Lands

Citing negative impacts including homelessness, ecological destruction to Native lands, huge public debt, and a greatly expanded police state, a movement of Indigenous groups has arisen to challenge the Olympic industry and specifically the 2010 Winter Olympics that will be held in British Columbia, Canada.

Organizers from No2010, an Indigenous anti-Olympics organization, will travel the West Coast of the US to conduct a speaking tour on the resistance to the 2010 Olympics.  The stated agenda is to promote an anti-colonial and anti-capitalist convergence that will coincide with the opening ceremonies of the Games in February, 2010 in Vancouver.

According to the group's website:

Although it can be said that all of the Americas is land stolen from Indigenous peoples, 'British Columbia' is unique in Canada in that virtually no treaties were made in the process of colonization & settlement. Treaties were required under British, and later Canadian, law prior to any trade or settlement (i.e., the 1763 Royal Proclamation). Although today the government seeks 'modern-day treaties' with its Indian Act band councils, the fact is in 'BC' the land is clearly occupied by an illegal colonial system. The slogan 'No Olympics on Stolen Native Land' is a way to raise anti-colonial consciousness about the true history of 'BC'.