(top) – For more than 30 years, the Inuit welcomed anthropologist Jean Briggs into their lives so she could study how they raise their children. Briggs is pictured during a 1974 visit to Baffin Island. – Jean Briggs Collection / American Philosophical Society; (center) – Inuit parenting is gentle and tender. They even have a special kiss for kids called kunik. (Above) Maata Jaw gives her daughter the nose-to-cheek Inuit sniff. – Johan Hallberg-Campbell for NPR; (bottom) – The elders of Iqaluit have lunch at the local senior center. On Thursdays, what they call “country food” is on the menu, things like caribou, seal and ptarmigan. – Johan Hallberg-Campbell for NPR
by Michaeleen Doucleff and Jane Greenhalgh
“Back in the 1960s, a Harvard graduate student made a landmark discovery about the nature of human anger.
“At age 34, Jean Briggs traveled above the Arctic Circle and lived out on the tundra for 17 months. There were no roads, no heating systems, no grocery stores. Winter temperatures could easily dip below minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Briggs persuaded an Inuit family to ‘adopt’ her and ‘try to keep her alive,’ as the anthropologist wrote in 1970.
“At the time, many Inuit families lived similar to the way their ancestors had for thousands of years. They built igloos in the winter and tents in the summer. ‘And we ate only what the animals provided, such as fish, seal and caribou,’ says Myna Ishulutak, a film producer and language teacher who lived a similar lifestyle as a young girl.
“Briggs quickly realized something remarkable was going on in these families: The adults had an extraordinary ability to control their anger.”