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White Heather | Itsutit | Qijuktaat
White Heather | Itsutit | Qijuktaat

Scientific name: Cassiope tetragona
Inuktitut name: Itsutit, qijuktaat
One of the Inuit names for this plant is itsutit, or “fuel for the fire.” This heather burns with a hot flame, so it was used as fuel for fires in the summer.
Traditional Use
In fact I did put up some inuksuks to divert caribou. I have heard that these were put up so that caribou could be steered towards the lake and they could swim across. So with small inuksuks, we used heather plants by placing them on top of the inuksuk. These plants tend to move around with the wind so that caribou would change their courses when they suspected that these formations would take them to the water.
Noah Siakuluk, interviewed by Louis Tapardjuk (August 24, 1996)

Qijuktaat also make good bedding, as they soften the hard ground; however, it would be better to have something on top of it because they make ruffling sounds. They do not make a good pillow, but they do make good bedding. Whenever you move, they make ruffling sounds. First you would light a piece of canvas, then as it starts to smolder on the edges you would snuff out the ember by pressing it. Once that is done, the burnt canvas can be placed below the angmaaq [flint], and as soon as you strike, the sparks will set the canvas to ember. This piece of burnt canvas is known as uutalik. As soon as you strike a flint, this burnt canvas will start to smolder almost immediately, at which time you would place it among the heather plants and blow on it to make a fire. That is what I have seen. You can get yourself a fire without using a match, but of course you would have to blow on it to make a fire. The powdered plant can be added for you to get a fire going. Then you place it among cassiope plants, and soon you get yourself a nice camp fire.
Abraham Ulaajuruk
source

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