Neo-Pentecostal Revival Suspected for Destruction of Ancient Arctic Art

UPDATE: The archaeologist cited in the newspaper article below has since claimed he was misquoted, and that there has not in fact been a “pattern of previous attacks”. Please see my entry here for fuller details.

From the Canadian Leader-Post:

Canada’s only major Arctic petroglyph site — a 1,500-year-old gallery of mysterious faces carved into a soapstone ridge on a tiny island off of Quebec’s northern coast — has been ransacked by vandals in what the region’s top archeologist suspects was a religiously motivated attack by devout Christians from a nearby Inuit community.

The petroglyphs were created by the now-extinct Dorset culture, and it was hoped that the site would become a UNESCO world heritage site (all links in this post added):

Now, dreams of global renown for Qajartalik may be dashed after a visit to the island last month by Quebec cultural officials revealed extensive damage to the prehistoric drawings, including deep gouges across many of the faces.

…Daniel Gendron, chief archeologist with the Inukjuak-based Avataq Cultural Institute, the key promoter of indigenous history and identity in Nunavik, said the latest vandalism at Qajartalik follows the pattern of previous attacks by members of what he called “a very strong movement” of conservative Christians in Kangiqsujuaq and several other Inuit communities in northern Quebec.

The carvings were recently featured in the Nunatsiaq News, in an article which begins with some sadly prophetic words:

Anyone can pick up a piece of ancient mummified wood in Nunavut’s High Arctic, or write graffiti over Nunavik’s delicate rock carvings.

…Qajartalik is home to the only major rock carving site in the Canadian Arctic. The rocky island looks like a dark strip of soapstone. On its 130-metre-long kayak-shaped ridge, lichens camouflage what some have dubbed “devil’s faces.”

Qajartalik’s etchings resemble the tiny carved masks archeologists associate with Dorset culture, believed to have flourished in the Eastern Arctic 1,000 to 1,500 years ago.

Some display cat-like features, and appear to have horns. Lines radiate from many of the mouths, perhaps symbolizing the breath of a shaman, archeologists speculate.

The Christian “movement” mentioned by Gendron is a neo-Pentcostal revival which has been gaining strength for several years. Canadian Christianity has some details:

A “MOVE of the Spirit” in parts of northern Canada is moving south, and beginning to touch some troubled communities in Labrador, according to Roger Armbruster, director of Canadian missions with Maranatha Good News Centre in Niverville, Manitoba.

…Some Nunavut and Nunavik communities have undergone near total transformation, and many northern Inuit now see themselves as missionaries, says Armbruster. He recently accompanied 12 Inuit from northern Quebec and Nunavut on an outreach trip to Nain, Labrador, a community that has seen a large number of suicides — 22 since January, 1999.

During that visit, one of the women, Annie Tertiluk, declared that at one time some 90 percent of the adults in her community were alcoholics; and of those, she said, “we [she and her husband] were some of the worst.”

Today, however, Tertiluk can testify that in her community of Kangiqsujuaq in northern Quebec, the situation is exactly reversed. Now only about 10 percent of the adult community are alcoholics, and 90 percent have been set free by “the truth of the gospel, and the liberating power of the Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and that now lives within us,” reports Armbruster.

The revival, as expected, strongly stresses the supernatural. A 2004 report posted on Worldwide Religious News explains:

…After years of patient work, fundamentalist religious leaders across the eastern Arctic are about to join hands and their rapidly growing flocks to form a new church that combines speaking-in-tongues, cast-out-the-devil Christianity with Inuit cultural pride. “We are organizing,” says James Arreak, the cherubic, 36-year-old former bank employee who is now pastor of the Iqaluit Christian Fellowship and one of the movement’s shepherds.

…Pentecostal Christianity, brought in by southern evangelists, has been present in the North for at least two decades. But the advent of a new generation of Inuit preachers such as Arreak and Billy Arnaquq has made the difference, says Roger Armbruster of the Maranatha Good News Centre in Nivervillle, Man.

Arreak, along with his Anglican clergyman brother Joshua, believes that God revealed himself through a supernatural event while he was leading worship at a church in Pond Inlet, on Baffin lsland, in 1999; Christianity.ca reported:

It started like thunder, and at first no one knew what was happening. Moses Kyak, who was operating the sound system, turned the volume off but the noise kept getting louder. Then people began falling down without anyone touching them. James Arreak, who had been leading worship, began to shake. The building began to shake. For about a minute the noise continued to fill the church, like a mighty, rushing wind.

“It sounded like Niagara Falls,” says Rev. Joshua Arreak, who was helping lead an afternoon youth service at St. Timothy’s Anglican Church with his younger brother James. And then the sound went away.

The revival also has a political aspect, and the missionary Armbruster has given strong support to Tagak Curley, a local politician who is a “Christian gay-rights opponent”. The Nunatsiaq News explains:

In a section of his web site headed “Jesus is the Lord of Government,” Armbruster said, “Jesus proved his supremacy of his authority over the government when he rose from the dead.”

And he said that in Nunavut, “there is a real warfare over the government, as the enemy seeks to influence those in office to be controlled by deceptive thoughts or by humanistic thinking rather than by the Word of God.”

…Armbruster’s ministry, “Canada Awakening, “is devoted to “building the indigenous church in Canada’s north,” a church that respects Inuit traditional cultural values and Inuit leadership. It’s one of several ministries that have helped the Inuit Christian movement in Nunavut and Nunavik grow by leaps and bounds since the 1990s, sometimes with the help of municipal governments.

The Hamlet of Cape Dorset, for example, donated $25,000 last year [2003] for steel pylons for a new church built by the late John Spillenaar’s Arctic Missions Outreach, now headed by David and Joan Ellyat[t] of London, Ont.

…A bible conference last September in Baker Lake drew about 600 people, and cost $300,000 in charter fares alone. In April 2003, a conference in Kangirsuk drew hundreds of Inuit from 21 communities throughout Nunavut and Nunavik.

At the Baker Lake conference, participants such as Patterk Netser, then the newly elected member for Nanulik, held up signs saying “Jesus is Lord over Nunavut,” printed for them by a group called Prayer Canada, which encourages political activism on the part of fundamentalist Christians.

Armbruster also spreads the gospel of Christian Zionism, and has led solidarity tours to Israeli communities. He explains in a Christian newsletter:

From January 23 to February 3, 2005, the Inuit and First Nations of Canada made their sixth annual pilgrimage to the land of the Bible.

…The vision is therefore to build relationships with all people groups in Israeli society, spreading joy through our songs of praise to the Lord, and spreading healing and comfort.

…This year we were able to visit the community of Sderot near the Gaza Strip, a community that has been the target of over 500 rocket attacks since June of 2003.

…Some Jewish Rabbis have an oral tradition which says that when the North American Native come to Jerusalem to pray, it will be a sign that the coming of the Messiah is near, because it will be a sign that the Torah has gone to “the ends of the earth.”

On his website, Armbruster stresses the importance of reconciliation between different native groups – if original inhabitants are resentful of newcomers, he explains, this will create a curse that will bring “defilement” to the land. He claims that a recent ceremony of reconciliation (led by a Fijian Pentecostal group) has led to the land becoming dramatically more fertile:

…There are rigid and dogmatic mindsets in the world who presuppose a naturalistic explanation for everything.   But it is the indigenous people of the world who have something to teach the western mindset, and it is that the spiritual and the natural worlds are connected, and that the things we see in the natural flow out of the supernatural. Everything that we see around us had its source and origin in the spirit, and then it manifested into the natural from there.

Those like members of the Fiji Healing the Land Team have seen this happen far too often to be a mere co-incidence. They have seen a pattern that when certain things are addressed in the spirit, and that when repentance of the sins that defile the land take place under the authority of the local gatekeepers and authorities, that that is an outward manifestation that takes place that affects the environment, and the land itself!

As he makes clear in the comments section to this blog post, Armbruster is just as appalled as the rest of us by the vandalism of an ancient heritage site – but it’s also very likely that the non-Christian religious art of Qajartalik is going to be seen by some Pentecostals as one of the things that “defile the land”. This is not unique: as I blogged recently, Kenyan Pentecostals have been threatening to destroy colonial-era art which they believe to be associated with Freemasonry.

(Hat tip: Cult News Network)

UPDATE: I explore the political issues further at Talk to Action.

27 Responses

  1. Thank you Richard – your research is excellent and useful.

  2. Thanks for a great read : awareness of the scope of evangelical efforts by Christian right groups beyond American shores seems at times dim to nonexistent, but I think that might serve as a corrective to some in the US who perceive the movement to be principally rooted and focused in the US.

    The global aspects of Christian and religious right organization and evangelism should not be neglected.

    On another note, this defacement of the Canadian artic petroglyph art is an expression that might be likened to the Roman practice of the “damnatio memoriae” – the erasure of the past through the erasure of historical record and thus memory – which is the most absolute of political impulses.

  3. […] provide a regular ”front page” story for them. My debut effort – a follow-up to my blog post on religious politics in Nunavut, northern Quebec – can be seen here. Possibly related posts: […]

  4. I find the spread of the evangelical movement here in Nunavut troubling and disturbing. Pretty scarey stuff. I find it ironic that the same people who saw their own traditional beliefs washed away by Southern influence are now so adamant in “saving” heathens like myself who came from the South.

  5. The first response of indigenous people to the arrival of Christian misssionarries should be: Eat ’em if you got ’em. The New World Taliban indeed.

  6. So they destroyed the petroglyphs? What evidence? Don’t let that get in the way of a good story, they probably drink blood too (check out their communion service).

    Kind of racist to assume you know what’s best for the residents of Nunavut? Instead why don’t you actually talk to James Arreak and listen to his story.

  7. What evidence? Try actually reading the source I quoted: “Daniel Gendron, chief archeologist with the Inukjuak-based Avataq Cultural Institute, the key promoter of indigenous history and identity in Nunavik, said the latest vandalism at Qajartalik follows the pattern of previous attacks”. Not proof, but a considered opinion from someone who knows the context. And I never claimed anything more than that: hence the word “suspected” in the title.

    Kind of racist to assume you know what’s best for the residents of Nunavut. So which is it? a) they didn’t do it or b) they did it, but they had their reasons so if you have a problem with it you must be a racist? Again, try reading what I wrote, rather than throwing around nasty slurs: I never said anything about what’s “best” for the residents of Nunavut, and I think I gave appropriate weight to the revival’s positive social impact as regards alcoholism. I can also see why neo-Pentecostalism might be more attractive for an indigenous tribal society than dull modernity.

    why don’t you actually talk to James Arreak? I consulted as much material from “insider” Christian sources about the subject that I could find, and I believe that I represented that perspective fairly. Which is more than you’re willing to do with me, apparently.

  8. Sometimes subjective speculation can get in the way of the facts.

    In the original press release quoting the chief archeologist that you mention, the headline states that evangelical Christians had committed vandalism, but in the article itself, it simply states that the archeologists “suspects” it was done by evangelical Christians. Is there not a difference between “suspicion” and what the headline stated as “fact”? Is this accusation just against an identifiable group?

    I personally know the mayor from Kangiqsujuaq in Nunavik, the closest Inuit community, and she knows nothing about this, and does not believe that it was “religiously motivated.”

    So who are you going to believe–the mayor of Kangiqsujuaq, or the archeologist?

    What you need to be carerful about is that you are stating the words of the chief archeologist as if they were a considered opinion, when it is only suspicion and speculation. Did you check the considered opinion of the mayor of the closest community to this site?

    You state that you “consulted as much material from ‘insider’ Christian sources about the subject that I could find, and I believe that I represented that perspectively fairly.”

    Well, you apparently have checked my web-site which has my e-mail and contact information, but did you bother to check with me personally before spreading this malicious gossip? Not at all. Does this not concern you? Was there anything on my website that could give you a scintilla of evidence that I am in any way associated with the people who have done this? Why did you not check with me first?

    So when I see comments on this site that your research is “excellent and useful,” it is really kind of scary how some people will be naively influenced by non-evidence that they know nothing about.

    I have not found one person that I personally know who knows anything about this, and if this action had any kind of official sanction behind it, I am confident that I would know about it.

    As it is, rest assured that I agree with you that no citizen has any right to destroy any property that is not their own, and any vandalism of another’s property is a criminal act. You can do what you want with your own property, but not with another’s property.

    Have a good day to one and all!

  9. So who are you going to believe–the mayor of Kangiqsujuaq, or the archeologist? Since I live thousands of miles away from the story, all I can do is to consider what might be likely. So cross-referening the Leader-Post article with other sources, I discovered that there has indeed been a religious revival with “spiritual warfare” elements that would make damaging pagan art a meaningful act. We’ll probably never know for sure who the vandal or vandals actually were or why they did it, but the nearby religious context makes me think that the archaeologist’s suspicion is more than just a wild accusation – although I don’t think I suggested that such an act would have had “official sanction”. I appreciate that this is annoying if in fact the vandalism was not caused by some over-enthusiatic members of the religious revival, this is the way things look to an outside observer, based on the contextual evidence that I have gathered (and, I hope, treated fairly).

  10. How does “spiritual warfare” relate in any way to the destruction of property that is not yours? You are associating apples with oranges here to make an assumption that is without warrant.
    You have every right to have your own view on how this “looks” to an outside observer. The problem is that some people read these speculative opinions by people with no inside knowledge of what they are talking about, and look on it as scholarly research.

    This is what is scary. True jurisprudence would operate on the assumption of innocence until proven guilty.

    As you know, your speculations would never stand up in a court of law. But you are trying to influence other outsiders who do not know the facts, and who see your research as “excellent and useful.”

    Yet I do not see where you have consulted any Inuit in your “research,” and the whole idea of Nunavut was to give the indigenous peoples of the land of the far North more autonomy and self-determination in their own homeland. Why not let them speak for themselves?

    If your research is worth anything, I would expect you to at least consult them, or their leadership, before you cast aspersions and innuendoes without any objective, factual knowledge of what you are talking about.

    If it is ever proved that any evangelical Christian did this act of vandalism, I would be the first to say that it should be treated as a criminal act. But that would go for whoever did it.

    To make an assumption about who did it without a shred of evidence is yellow journalism at its worst.

  11. What is Gendron referring to when he said,”the latest vandalism at Qajartalik follows the pattern of previous attacks”? This is the only petroglyph site in Nunavut and it has not been damaged before. However, his statement would seem to imply that Pentecostal and Charismatics in the region are in the habit vandalizing priceless archaeological sites.

    “However, the original newspaper article I read about the issue states that this is what he is referring to:”

    However, there is a precedent for religious zealots destroying ancient relics. The tallest Buddha figure in the world, a 2,000 year-old statue 55-metres in high, was dynamited into rubble five years ago by the former Taliban government in Afghanistan.

    http://www.nunatsiaq.com/news/nunavik/60901_02.html

    Comparing Pentecostals in the East Arctic to the Taliban is rather disingenious and betrays a level ignorance and religious bigotry that does not exactly encourage dialogue. As a former Pentecostal University Chaplain, it was always much better to have people actually talk with me than have them attribute all kinds of nasty things to me, based on their “research” about the religious right.

    If you want to fairly portray someone’s views, then ask them, “do you believe this?” or “do you endorse this?”. Then you know for sure.

  12. Mike, the article you’re referring to was published on 1 September, and the Taliban reference is not attributed to Gendron. I cited Gendron from an article that appeared a couple of days before, in which it states that he believes there is a “pattern of previous attacks by members”. If you dispute his accusation that’s fair enough, but you need to make your complaint to him (or to the source, if he’s been misquoted).

    Roger – your reference to “true jurisprudence” is misplaced: I am not declaring that Pentecostals are guilty, just that an archeologist suspects involvement (I even changed the headline of my piece to make that clearer). All I’ve done is to fill in the background as to why he has these suspicions, and to make my own judgments. I didn’t contact anyone from the communities concerned because this is blog based on trawling the internet for information, not generating new information through interviews. I fully accept that responsible leaders within the movement will not have endorsed the vandalism, but it is generally the fact that Pentecostal religion views pagan traditions very negatively (please correct me if I am wrong). Surely you must concede the possibility that someone connected to your movement might have been moved to act in way that showed more zeal than good sense?

  13. When you say “Pentecostal religion views pagan traditions very negatively”, what do you mean by “very negatively”? The same way radical Islamists view insults to Islam or the my kids view being late for school? There are very different reactions to be sure, and it is a leap of logic to suggest that a Pentecostal’s view of of pagan tradition would lead to violence or vandalism.

    In much the same way one can suggest that vandalism done on a Pentecostal church in your community could have been done by you, given your negative view of Pentecostals. A perusal of your site reveals that you have lost no love on Pentecostals and Charismatics. So a story like this would fit your worldview and you have apparently endorsed it.

    But how much do you actually know about my faith? Your sources seem rather odd, I would be biased too if that was all I knew on the subject. Did you know that Pentecostals have historically been quietist and at one time were pacifist? This is probably a reflection of some of the Quaker roots of Pentecostalism. Did you know that Pentecotals were among the first religious organizations to ordain women in ministry? Long before the mainline Protestants ever did.

    Might I suggest some books to look at:

    Vision of the Disinherited by Robert Mapes Anderson (a non-supernaturalist view on the origins of Pentecostalism)

    Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf. Yale theologian Miroslav Volf is a Pentecostal, an interview can be found here: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_1_120/ai_96555083

    Try books by Grant Wacker, sociologist Margaret Poloma, checkout the periodical Pneuma: The Journal of the Society of Pentecostal Studies.

    Check this out: a group of Canadian Charismatics repent for the sin of anti-semitism in Canada
    http://www.watchmen.ca/Journey/call-to-repentance.asp
    As part of this effort, they brought the survivors of the ship the St. Louis (http://ctr.concordia.ca/2000-01/Jan_11/17-StLouis/index.shtml) to Canada to repent for turning them away in 1939. Later, over 500 went to Israel to repent Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau at Yad Vashem and to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rabbi Michael Melchior. James Arreak was part of this group.

    A quick look at some of the above suggests a movement that is quite a bit different than the picture you have been painting.

  14. By “very negatively” I mean that pagan traditions would be seen as a “false religion” inspired by Satan and with the potential to spread spiritual harm. Again, please correct me if that is wrong. I have seen plenty of Pentecostal/charismatic literature that makes such claims: Derek Prince, Bill Subritzky, C Peter Wagner, and so on. I’m not suggesting that any of these people would support vandalism, but someone who adopted their worldview might take matters into their own hands. We’ve certainly seen Pentecostals in Kenya recently lobbying for the destruction of colonial era art which they see as Masonic, and therefore Satanic. There’s also this article by Rosalind Hackett, since we’re trading scholarly sources:

    Discourses of Demonization in Africa and Beyond

    Recent theoretical perspectives on religion and violence and on cultural difference are grounded within a discussion of the discourses of demonism and satanism which have become increasingly prevalent in many parts of Africa today. These stem primarily from the popular deliverance-oriented Pentecostal ministries which flourish in countries like Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. Such movements are prone to violent condemnations of other (competing) religious options, in particular, traditional African religions. The article links these local expressions of ‘spiritual warfare’ to more globalizing discourses of satanism, and points to the deleterious effects of such religious orientations for civil society, religious pluralism and freedom of religion.

    I know that there is much more to Pentecostalism than just this kind of thing, but it is a strand within your tradition that you have to face up to. Or are you just going to whinge that’s it’s unfair for outsiders to have drawn attention to it?

  15. You said, By “very negatively” I mean that pagan traditions would be seen as a “false religion” inspired by Satan and with the potential to spread spiritual harm. And you say you have read it. I would say that Pentecostals do not think in such black and white terms as you would presume, and that you have not read enough, even of the authors you cite. Why not simply contact Wagner and ask him yourself?

    In Pentecostal/Charismatic theology (and most Christian theology) both good and bad are attributed to pagan traditions. In the area of ethics, worldview and interactions with the supernatural, both good and bad can be found.

    Sometimes there is an ethical system that is contrary to Christian teaching. (ie taking revenge) Such a system would be rightly repudiated in favour of the Christian teaching of forgiveness and reconciliation.

    In terms of worldview and the supernatural – it may be that in a particular tradition one must be fearful of and appease spirits that inhabit a particular location. The view Pentecostals would have is that Christ has triumphed over these spirits and that you may go wherever you please without fear.
    Which leads me to believe that is was very unlikely for a Pentecostal to feel the need to destroy petroglyphs. In the worldview of a pagan perhaps it might but not a Pentecostal, Charismatic or any Christian I know of.

    Unlke some of their predecessors, Pentecostal missionaries and coverts did not seek to eliminate the culture but to integrate the gospel with it. Perhaps that is one reaosn why Pentecostalism is so attractive to the Inuit.

    If “trend” is nomrative for pentecostals as you suggest then we should be seeing this with great regularity all over the world- size of pentecostal charismatic movement. The fact is the event in Kenya is anolomous, and in Nunavut it is no more convincing than blaming AA for vandalism to the liquor store. It is out of their character to do so. I’m sorry I was not able to access Hackett’s article but last line of the abstract suggests that the “deleterious effects” are more theoretical than empriical.

    For more on this look at http://artsweb.bham.ac.uk/aanderson/Publications/pentecostal_gospel_.htm
    http://www.apts.edu/ajps/05-1/05-1-RHedlund.pdf or anything from that Journal

    Instead of destroying artifacts and harassing those they disagree with, these people are more likely to engage in acts of repentance and reconciliation to “cleanse the land of defilement” (to use a phrase emplyoed by some). For example, one Pentecostal missionary I know told me how in Mozambique they joined hands with Muslims in prayer around their mosque to pray it would not be demolished by the government officials. This had an incredible effect on the relations with others in that town.

    One activity you should have read about is group that followed the paths of the crusdaes to repent for atrocities.committed.

    Part of the problem is viewing this through a political lens. Then there always victims and oppressors.

  16. Sorry, I clicked before I was finished.
    In the wrong place above I refer to the size of the movement without finishing. The Pentecostal / Charismatic movement one of the largest religious groups in the would, by some exstimates it exceeds 1/4 of all the Christians in the world. They are found in every denomination, their own denomination, house churches and no churches. They have varying views on theology ranging from Catholic, Reformed, Wesleyan, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Mennonite, and have splintered into groups too numerous to count. They have exploded in China and no one knows how many there are, perhaps in the 100’s of millions. In Russia they range from churches that seem like nightclubs to ones with no music, and the men and women sit separately. They have a variety of views on the second coming, Israel and even spiritual warfare.

    So when you say, I know that there is much more to Pentecostalism than just this kind of thing, but it is a strand within your tradition that you have to face up to. Or are you just going to whinge that’s it’s unfair for outsiders to have drawn attention to it? I’m not sure what your point is, other than to make a “gotcha” statement. The real question you should ask, “Is this kind of thing normative for Pentecostals?” To say that it is smacks of ingnorance and bitory.

    My comment about the group that followed the route of the Crusades meant to state that they were engaging in a form of spiritual warfare a cleansing the land by repenting for atrocities committed during the crusades. This flies in the face of your theory which would predict them re-enacting the witch-dunking scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail

    My comments about looking at this through a political lens is based on my obersvation of your Talk To Action site, in which you seem to have demonized anything you see as being from the “religious right” and who therefore are always oppressors. Sorry, I’m not American and I don’t worship George Bush or hate Michael Moore, I enjoy free medicare, and I don’t like to wear political labels put on me by others. Most Pentecostals in the developing world are not caught up in drawing political lines in the sand either.

  17. The fact is the event in Kenya is anolomous…The real question you should ask, “Is this kind of thing normative for Pentecostals?”

    I didn’t suggest that it is “normative”, but I do think it is a real possibility that someone within the movement (perhaps a young hothead or someone mentally troubled) may have taken some popular spiritual warfare ideas too far and too literally in this particular instance, and caused some damage. Thank you for suggesting that some Pentecostals may in fact have a more balanced view of pagan traditions, but that doesn’t appear very evident for those at the sharp end – Wiccans being demonised as Satanists, Harry Potter books going up in smoke, etc.

    And I don’t think I have “demonized” the religious right (which I know is not the same thing as Pentecostalism) in my other piece. It’s true that I’m not a fan of the movement (and being British, I’m naturally sceptical of politicans who make too much of their religion), but I also think it’s a fascinating phenomenon which is obviously meeting some people’s needs, and I like to investigate as to why. You may not like my perspective, but all I’m doing is calling it like I see it.

  18. Dear Richard,
    I can appreciate it that you are “calling it like I see it,” but surely you realize that you you write about other people groups like the Inuit, that you must try to see it through their eyes.

    Calling it like you see it is helpful to others when you are disclosing something about yourself. You know your own internal world better than we do.

    But when you are writing about other identifiable groups such as the Inuit, obviously you don’t know much if anything about them on a personal, firsthand basis, other than what you read on the Internet.

    First of all, when you refer to the “neo-pentecostal” movement, this is not a term that is used at all in the North. It is a movement that is trans-denominational, and in many cases is referred to as a “renewal” within the traditional Anglican Church.

    You seem to prefer to call it a “pentecostal” movement instead of an “anglican” movement. Why is this so? Neither pentecostals or anglicans believe in vandalism, for starters, but anglicanism has a longer tradition, and is known for stability and stableness.

    I agree with everything that Mike writes about the history of pentecostals, but some people naively use that term to try to brush certain ones as extremists, fundamentalists or even bigots.

    Our point is simply that this type of false caricaturizing has no place in honest journalism or research, especially in view of your very erroneous and misguided attempt to make associations and connections between this act of vandalism and ministries such as myself.

    The Inuit are very peaceful and graceful. Nunavut came into being without even a court case or litigaiton, let alone bloodshed. To insinuate (not charge directly, but to insinuate) through innuendo that the particular people you refer to would do such a thing (without substance or evidence of any kind) is a gross injustice and unfair.

  19. I’m well aware of the limitations of my knowledge about the Inuit, which was one reason I refrained from too much speculation about why the religious revival has been so successful. And I use the term “neo-Pentecostal” rather than Anglican because a) the revival is, as you say, “transdenominatonal”, and because b) the defining features of the movement appear to be those associated with the Pentecostal movement, rather anything specifically Anglican. I thought the term was a neutral one (and I tend to avoid the “f” word, fundamentalist, where possible).

    To insinuate (not charge directly, but to insinuate) through innuendo that the particular people you refer to would do such a thing (without substance or evidence of any kind) is a gross injustice and unfair.

    I don’t think I’ve “insinuated” anything. All I’ve done is to state why I think Daniel Gendron’s suspicions may be well-grounded. And I certainly haven’t accused “a people” of anything. Whoever did the vandalism, we’re talking about an individual or a small group. The idea that not a single Inuit would be capable of such an act of vandalism defies belief.

  20. “The idea that not a single Inuit would be capable of such an act of vandalism defies belief.”
    I never said that no single Inuit would be capable of such an act of vandalism. I think that we are agreed that somebody did it, and that whoever did it is guilty of a criminal act.

    You have chosen to rely your suspicion upon the words of an archeologist (a non-Inuit) whom you do not know, and I, to this point, rely my viewpoint on the words of the mayor of the closest community (an Inuit) whom I do know.

    Neither Nunavut or Nunavik (the Inuit portion of northern Quebec) are made up entirely of Inuit, you know. Are you saying that not a single non-Inuit would be capable of such an act of vandalism? My point is that it could have been either, and it is unjust to point fingers when you have no evidence.

    I am sure that the mayor of Kangiqsujuaq would welcome you if you chose to visit her community, and get to meet some of the people in her community.

    The Inuit are a welcoming people, and anyone is welcome at any time.

    And by the way, to state that Daniel Gendron’s suspicions may be well-grounded is an insinuation and an innuendo. To say otherwise defies belief.

  21. Hello there Richard!
    You suggest, “I don’t think I’ve ‘insinuated’ anything. All I’ve done is to state why I think Daniel Gendron’s suspicions may be well-founded.”

    Richard, it turns out that these are not Daniel Gendron’s suspicions at all, but are more your own suspicions, and those of the journalist who put his own spin on what Archeologist Daniel Gendron actually said.

    We now have the headline in the Nunatsiaq News of September 29, 2006, “CanWest reporter distorted Qajartalik petroglyph story.” The headline is followed by a lengthy letter by Daniel Gendron, Archeologist from the Avataq Cultural Institute, himself.

    You may be interested to know that he is more than a little annoyed at the “spin” and the distortion of his comments that were placed there by Randy Boswell of the CanWest News Service.

    Among other things, he writes, “I certainly learned an important lesson over the last few days after the publication of Randy Boswell’s article on August 26, 2006, in several newspapers from the CanWest family. The next time I am interviewed by journalists, I will make certain of their intentions before accepting.”

    Richard, you base your suspicions on what you call Daniel Gendron’s “suspicions,” and you write, “And I certainly havn’t accused ‘a people’ of anything.”

    Yet Daniel Gendron himself writes, “I wish to rectify what has been presented in Randy Boswell’s article as an attack on a specific group of people, accusing them for the alleged damage…I feel it is my responsibility to rectify the present situation since it was my bringing the news of potential new damage at the site to public attention that caused all these accusations to come forth without justification.”

    He adds, “It is unfortunate that Mr. Boswell has taken upon himself to make the news instead of reporting it. The emphasis on the ‘religious’ aspect of our conversation was but one single element of it, and it was mentioned only to put the site and its turbulent history into perspective. I would have much preferred that he emphasized the role of the federal government (or lack of it) in this case….

    “Imagine our reactions, when we learned that the site might be damaged further. For me, this is a much more relevant news to discuss than the angle Mr. Boswell decided to write about. I do find regrettable that this has come out in this way. My intent has never been to blame innocent people, and I do apologize to the entire Nunavik (northern Quebec) population for this, and especially to the Kangirsujuammiut (inhabitants of Kangirsujuaq).

    “I hope that this note will correct some of the injustice that might have come out of the initial publication of this news, and that these recent discussions on the uncertain future of this site will help in having it offically recognized and protected.”

    Richard Bartholomew, your comments??? Will you now admit that you have been incredibly naive in passing along this gossip and rumour without a shed of justification?

    Daniel Gendron also wonders why the Nunatsiaq News would spread this story as a rumour when “rumours prove nothing, and should remain unpublished until proof is brought forth.”

    What are your thoughts on this?

  22. Mr. Armbruster, I’m surprised by your tone.
    Let’s look at the original ( apparently inaccurate ) passage that Richard Bartholomew first reported on, from the Boswell story that gave rise to this discussion in the first place:

    “Canada’s only major Arctic petroglyph site — a 1,500-year-old gallery of mysterious faces carved into a soapstone ridge on a tiny island off of Quebec’s northern coast — has been ransacked by vandals in what the region’s top archeologist suspects was a religiously motivated attack by devout Christians from a nearby Inuit community

    …Daniel Gendron, chief archeologist with the Inukjuak-based Avataq Cultural Institute, the key promoter of indigenous history and identity in Nunavik, said the latest vandalism at Qajartalik follows the pattern of previous attacks by members of what he called “a very strong movement” of conservative Christians in Kangiqsujuaq and several other Inuit communities in northern Quebec.”

    I’ve highlighted the important passage – Boswell’s characterization of Gendron’s statements. Boswell characterizes Gendron as saying that there existed a previous and well established pattern of attacks on the petroglyphs from the local Christian community.

    In that context, I really don’t see any amiss in Richard Bartholomew’s original presentation of Boswell’s story. Boswell apparently presented – as fact – a considerably distorted picture of Gendron’s views. The article stated that there was an established history of defacement, of the petroglyphs, and that the identity of the perpetrators was known.

    It would be helpful to read Mr. Gendron’s correction, in his September 29, 2006 letter to the editor of the Nunatsiaq News. Unfortunately, those letters are not preserved from day to day by the newspaper. Gendron has – it seems – every right to be angry at Boswell because Gendron’s professional reputation may have been impacted by the misreporting, and that’s a key point. Once again, Boswell’s article states that Gendron suspected the local Christian population of involvement in the most recent defacements because they had carried out such defacements in the past.

    So, we have here a case in which Richard Bartholomew – believing Boswell’s reporting to be accurate ( a reasonable assumption ) – related Boswells’ mis-report which stated that Gendron suspected the local Christian community’s involvement in the defacements based on their known history of making such attacks.

    The onus, I would say, lies elsewhere.

  23. Bruce, please check out Richard’s “Update” at the very top of this article, and click on “here” to get his new perspective on the situation. Richard has also been good enough to provide a link to the entire letter that Archeologist Daniel Gendron made to the Nunatsiaq News in their September 29, 2006, issue. Read it for yourself. Richard had, in good faith, quoted from Randy Boswell’s original article, thinking that he was quoting Daniel Gendron accurately. Now it turns out that he has distorted Gendron’s words to get the article that he wanted, and which only reflected his own bias.
    Yes, I have no doubt that Richard believed Randy Boswell’s article in good faith, but it turns out now that the main authority that Boswell was quoting to give some type of credibility to his article states his strong disagreement with how Boswell has portrayed him. He writes, among many other things, “It is unfortunate that Mr. Boswell has taken upon himself to make the news instead of reporting it.”

    Mr. Gendron has apologized for the way he was portrayed. He writes, “My intent has never been to blame innocent people, and I do apologize to the entire Nunavik (northern Quebec) population for this, and especially to the Kangirsujuammiut (residents of Kangirsujuaq).”

    Richard has since apologized, as well, for the extent to which he was a conduit of this false information, and wrong caricature of Archeologist Daniel Gendron. I admire him for that.

    In light of your previous comments,that “this defacement of the Canadian art petroglyph art is an expression that might be likened to the Roman practice of the ‘damnatio memoriae’– the erasure of the past through the erasure of the historical record and thus memory–which is the most absolute of political impulses.” You wrote that on September 2, 2006. To correct the statements that you have made, as Richard has done, would appear to be very much in order.

  24. […] month after I covered damage to the Qajartalik petroglyphs in Northern Canada, the archaeologist at the centre of the […]

  25. […] noted back in August, Israel also holds a particular fascination for groups of Fijian and Native Canadian […]

  26. […] Petroglyphs” – spread widely across the internet, including on this blog, where I looked (here and here) at the wider context of the spread of neo-Pentecostalism among the local Nunavut and […]

  27. […] which has turned out to be problematic or even erroneous – this happened to me in 2006, when I blogged on reports from Canada that some native rock art had been damaged by local […]

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