Kayak games and hunting enskilment: an archaeological consideration of sports and the situated learning of technical skills

Peer Reviewed

Walls M

World Archaeology 44, Issue 2, pages 175-188, 2012, 10.1080/00438243.2012.669604.

Inuit kayaks are a hunting technology that requires a high degree of developed skill to operate. The practice involves special types of physical fitness, technical ability, social relationships and extensive environmental knowledge. Hunters must be able to work intuitively as a team, to recognize and react instantly to subtle environmental cues, and depend on instinctive physical capabilities that are committed to muscle memory. These requisite abilities can be developed only experientially. Kayak sports were a critical aspect of learning, and they provided simulative environments to practise and develop sub-sets of hunting skills. Through an examination of a weapon-throwing game, commonly represented at Arctic sites by stone features that are arranged to outline a kayak, this paper explores the didactic nature of sports and theorizes their value in the situated learning of skills for hunter-gatherer technologies.
Keywords: Inuit, Kayak, Greenland, Archaeology
Categories: Arctic, Social Science