The Inuvik Beaufort Delta is the northernmost region of the Northwest Territories. Encompassing the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (along the territory’s Beaufort Delta coast) and portions of the Gwich’in Settlement Area (in the Mackenzie Valley), the region has about 7,500 residents living in eight communities. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Gwich'in Tribal Council are the region’s Self-Governing Organizations. They have a vested interest in the artists of the region and work to improve the Economic, Social and Cultural well being of all Inuvialuit and Gwich'in.
The completion of the Dempster Highway in 1979 gave this remote area access to a variety of multicultural influences. Still, the region’s traditional ways remain a strong part of cultural gatherings, celebrations and of course, art.
Artists utilize raw materials that are harvested locally. Polar bear, wolverine, muskox, seal, wolf, white fox, and caribou provide food and durable hides that can be tanned and sewn into warm clothing, footwear and bedding. Remaining materials such as horns and claws, are used to create beautiful pieces of art. Soapstone from the area is commonly used to carve images of wildlife, shamans and other legends of the area.
The Delta Braid originates from this region and is a rare form of art still practiced today. This beautiful form of appliqué is ribbons of geometric patterns made from layers of multi-coloured bias tape and seam bindings. Used for generations to distinctly decorate parkas and dresses, artists originally used fur or skins to create the intricate patterns. When fur traders arrived in the region, they brought colourful European fabrics and threads, enabling artists to embellish their patterns with bright colours. Each Delta Braid is unique and tells a story about the history of its artist and how they choose to create this cultural piece of art.
Artists in the Hamlet of Ulukhaktok (formerly known as Holman), have a very different history of artistic expression. Western-style and eastern-style drum dancing and a unique style of printmaking are among some of the most common forms of art found in this remote community. Many residents have artistic backgrounds and are involved with the Ulukhaktok Arts Centre in producing prints, tapestries, sewing and other crafts.
To learn more about where to Buy local art in the Inuvik Beaufort Delta Region click here.