Umingmak — Muskox

Umingmak means "the one with the beard", referring to the long hairs hanging from the jaw and neck of the muskox. This large tundra grazer has many other poetic and sacred names among different Inuit groups, including "the loudly snorting one", "the one with the conspicuous weapon of defence", and "the big black one", which echoes the sacred name of the polar bear, "the big white one" (Randa 1994). Although umingmak is absent from their immediate region, Inuit from Igloolik occasionally hunted muskoxen when travelling in other areas, particularly the mainland (IOHP 379, 061). Muskoxen were particularly prized for their horns, which are stronger and more flexible than bone or antler, and could be used for many purposes. Muskox skin made excellent sleeping mattresses and muskox meat was also highly appreciated.

Communities in other parts of the Arctic, where umingmak is more common, place more emphasis on muskox hunting and consequently understand more about its lifestyle and characteristics.