Caring for and Healing the Earth

Wilderness Caretaking

Non-Traditional Inukshuks


This page has probably generated more comments than any other page on this site. It seems to be a controversial topic indeed! People do love to make and leave their mark in the wilderness. And there is something about inukshuks that seems to resonate with people.

Let me summarize thus: In my opinion these modern-day inukshuks are eyesores in wild areas. If you love them, then please regard the views expressed on this page as perhaps a different point of view; as a suggestion to help keep natural areas more natural. This is, after all, a website all about reducing and healing the enormous impact humans have on the Earth.

On the other hand, inukshuks were originally constructed by the Inuit people (of the far north) as guideposts on an otherwise unmarked landscape, and perhaps have spiritual overtones. This page is most definitely not a criticism of those. Although one could say that it is good that people are "honoring" this tradition by constructing them now, in my opinion this is incorrect. That's not at all the intent of most people who build these today. Nor is it a necessary act under most circumstances.  Are modern-day inukshuks built for spiritual reasons? I highly doubt it! And in any case, just because something is labeled as "spiritual" does that make it "ok"? What if such action impinges upon someone else's spirituality, such as, for example, a wilderness-based spirituality? That whole topic is a minefield, so we'll leave it now!

Yes, a few inukshuks are built nowadays with the intent to mark trails across barren rocky areas, where no other markings exist. And yes, some people build modern day inukshuks with great reverence. But I maintain that most inukshuks are nowadays built with no such intents. People generally do not erect inukshuks nowadays with the traditional intent of creating essential guidance in an otherwise undifferentiated landscape. Nor are they usually constructed with any sort of feeling for or resonance with the land. They are simply built as a time filler, much like watching TV.

And to summarize another viewpoint ... There is indeed much greater vandalism of the natural world going on all the time with our resource extraction, highways, cities, pollution, human misery, political opportunism, and so on and so on! Yes, all that is true... I am simply focusing on one small aspect of the enormous human impact upon this Earth here on this page.

Therefore I am led to my viewpoint that most modern-day inukshuks are no better than spray-painted graffiti (except that they're easier to get rid of). It's a loud declaration that says, "I was here!!".  Please leave those attitudes at home when you venture out into the natural world -- help leave the natural world natural. Signs of human intrusion into the wilderness are already rampant everywhere. On the brighter side, it is now (at the start of 2006) no longer anywhere near as popular to build these as it once was.

If you disagree with my viewpoint, I welcome hearing your viewpoint as well. Many visitors to this site have emailed me or made a guestbook entry with their views on this subject. These range from well thought out remarks to flames at me for expressing my opinion herein. They range from reasoned explanations of the spiritual significance of inukshuks to the obvious rock graffiti makers who insist upon their "right" to make as many rock piles as they feel like, wherever they want to, "so there"!

If nothing else, perhaps this page has given something for you to think about.


Here are some photos of non-traditional Inukshuks


Part of a highly impacted site somewhere on the Bruce Peninsula.


There is a rocky beach towards the top of the Bruce Peninsula (in Ontario, Canada) which is often the target of these rock graffiti vandals. Here are some pictures of how they deface this ancient rock beach.

Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of an "attack" this ancient beach experienced a few years ago, when over a hundred carelessly made rock statues littered this beach within a couple hundred yards. Fortunately, the winter storms as well as passersby helped to erase them from the landscape.


Sometime during the summer of 2002 some people actually built this maze on the rocky beach. To do so, they stripped away all the face stones of this ancient beach (untouched for hundreds of years). They then carried up hundreds of rounded white beach stones that they used to outline the maze.

In my opinion this is vandalism of the the natural world of the first degree.


A closer picture of the maze.

This is an example of the increasing prevalence these days of the trashing of the natural world in the name of "new age" rituals and games.


Here is a later photo of the area after it had been partially restored.



An artificial rock pile.

Why would someone bother to do this??


Sometimes the rock graffiti vandals get carried away in a different way and construct elaborate "living room" type structures. This one came complete with fireplace, benches, chairs, and a low wall.


Even in the water!


So, why is this a problem? Won't the next storm just wash all this junk away?

Well, perhaps, sometimes. Storms certainly wouldn't have gotten rid of that maze. And in the meantime, anyone coming out to view the beach, to see, feel, and be with the rocks for their own sake, is presented with a junkyard of amateur sculptures littering the natural landscape. A visual eyesore in the extreme.


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