Mysterious Rockford stone figure identified

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL

Many readers submitted entries in The Rockford Squire newspaper’s February 4 contest that asked for the correct identification of a pictured stone figure. Of the many entries received by the paper, 13 very intelligent and industrious people correctly identified the stone figure. Not only did they identify the figure, they also correctly answered two additional tiebreaker questions.

Matt Lenkiewicz presents contest winner Leta Halloway with a $50 gift certificate to the fine Rockford eatery.

Matt Lenkiewicz presents contest winner Leta Halloway with a $50 gift certificate to the fine Rockford eatery.

As per the contest rules, if there were multiple entries with all three questions correctly answered, the winner was to be determined by a random drawing.

Leta Holloway of Cannon Township was the lucky winner of a $50 gift certificate to the downtown Rockford bistro-style eatery, Grill One Eleven.

Holloway, an art teacher at both Belmont and Parkside elementary schools, tells us that she knew immediately when she saw the contest picture that the picture was that of an Inukshuk. She knew this because currently she is teaching art lessons that are using the 2010 Winter Olympics as a subject. Inukshuk play an important role in this year’s Olympic Winter Games hosted by Vancouver, B.C. in Canada.

Holloway, a regular Squire reader, was thrilled with her prize and said, “My husband Donald and I will treat ourselves to a special Valentine’s Day celebration.”

For the uninitiated, an Inukshuk is a stone landmark or cairn built by the aboriginal people of the First Nations native tribes of the Arctic regions of North America. Some built in the form representing a human figure are known also as an Inunnguaq.

Inukshuk vary in size and shape and many have endured for 3,000 years. They served many purposes such as landmarks for navigating the barren Arctic tundra, as markers for hunting grounds, or to identify a food cache, to name a few. They are symbols of survival.

The first of two tiebreaker questions asked, “Where on the globe are the objects most commonly seen?” While they are common in British Columbia, Canada, in general, they are considerably more numerous above the Arctic Circle from Alaska eastward through the northern territories of Canada to Newfoundland and Iceland.

The final tiebreaker question asked the significance of the object at this time in 2010. Exhibiting strong deductive reasoning skills and awareness of all of the hoopla leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. entrants were able to identify the Inukshuk as the official symbol or logo for this year’s Winter Olympics. The symbol is meant to convey the ever-abiding friendship and welcoming spirit of the Canadian people.

Contest entrants told us in their entries that some had searched for answers utilizing Internet search engines or visiting local libraries. Others knew of Inukshuk from their travels in Canada and some by seeing or reading about the upcoming Olympics in the media. (It pays to read newspapers!) The answers were out there, one simply had to look.

All of this brings us, your reporters, to our own personal Inukshuk. We call him “Chuck” and he resides in our backyard and was the “model” for this contest. The seeds for his creation were planted in our minds during a ten-day visit last summer to Vancouver, British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies.

In our travels we were introduced and struck by the stone figures that many Canadians view as their national symbol in addition to the iconic maple leaf. We decided then and there to craft our own Inukshuk when we returned home.

So it came to pass, upon our return home, that we visited the nearby Greenleaf Distributing on Grand Rapids’ northeast side.

In hand we had a drawing of what we wanted our Inukshuk to look like and we spent the better part of three hours searching the acres of the Greenleaf stone yard, looking for suitable rocks. We had to create our Inukshuk onsite by stacking the rocks one upon another.

Complicating the whole process was a constant high wind that had nothing better to do than blow our creation over every time we turned around to search for the next perfect rock. The proprietors, watching us through the window, must have thought we had “rocks in our heads.”

Finally we managed to assemble Chuck from toe to head. He stood there proudly without tumbling over and we breathed a weary sigh of relief. We then carried his body parts to a scale, had the pieces itemized and weighed, paid our bill, and laid him out in the bed of our pickup truck.

At home, Chuck laid in the truck’s bed for several days while we recovered. We went on to create the primitive work of art that now stands in our backyard and welcomes our return every day. We admit to using a limited amount of construction adhesive in the building process in the hope that our Inukshuk will cause someone 3,000 years from now to pause and wonder, “What the heck is this?”

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Squire’s contest. And now, let the real games begin—the Olympics, that is!

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