Forces of Change

Innu Caribou Hunters

Caribou antlers hang in a tree, placed there by an Innu hunter. The antlers are a sign of the Innu’s respect to the animal’s spirit. The Innu people live in northern Quebec and Labrador, where caribou have been the mainstay of their lives for thousands of years.

Since the 1960s, however, the Innu have settled into villages, making it difficult for them to follow and hunt the caribou.  Instead, they have had to rely more and more on other kinds of food.  

Approximately 16,000 Innu live in nine Quebec and two Labrador communities in Arctic Canada. The Innu call their homeland Nitassinan, “the country.”
Map The M Factory © Smithsonian Institution
An Innu hunter, Dominique Pokune, butchers a caribou with sharpened stone tools, demonstrating a technique used by his ancestors. Labrador, Canada
Photo Stephen Loring © Smithsonian Institution
An Innu elder holds her grandchild at an autumn caribou-hunting camp in Labrador, Canada
Photo Stephen Loring © Smithsonian Institution