Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Inukshuk are stone monuments, often resembling human figures, constructed by Arctic peoples for various reasons – to show the way, to mark food caches, as memorials. Supposedly the traditional meaning of the word inukshuk was “someone was here”. They served many purposes and have come to symbolize the arctic and its native people.

It seemed to happen suddenly, early this year stone towers began to appear in woodlands. The towers, most not more than three feet tall but some much larger, are composed of precariously balanced stones gathered from nearby. Some of the stones are fairly small and so would have been easily lifted; others are much larger but still could have been lifted by one person.

The appearance of the towers raises several questions: Who? What? Why? Northcentral Pennsylvania is far from the arctic and its peoples.

Who remains a mystery to everyone I’ve asked as nobody has come across someone constructing one or spoken to a person who has ‘fessed up to being a builder.

What is also a mystery. Have they been built as inukshuk to show what? Or as a religious symbol – a mini-steeple, pointed toward the builder’s idea of “heaven”, or as graffiti to show that the builder was there, or … ? 

Some would certainly have taken quite a while to build, and patience, and maybe even assistance to hold some stones in position as others were added to the tower.

A few seem to have some religious significance, obviously pointing skyward –

Or could be interpreted as a human figure or a cross –

But many just seem resemble an inukshuk to say “someone was here”  a form of graffiti made from natural materials rather than being spray-painted on bridge abutments, buildings or railroad cars – a way to say not, “someone was here” but instead to  “I” was here.  

Whether they were done as inukshuk, religious symbols or graffiti, they’re not in the artic serving a purpose. Fortunately, frost action, animals or whatever will bring them to the ground.


  1. Very interesting collection to come upon in the woods!

  2. I find them fascinating. I also like that whoever built them is expressing himself in a non destructive fashion. Here in Tulsa in our one little small wilderness area some people are now painting inspirational quotes on rocks like "run harder" or Bible quotes. ugh. I've seen a few stacks of rocks but none as nice as what you show.

    1. Unlike some folks, I prefer natural areas to be natural. Anyone with an artistic bent should express their talent on their own property or seek the landowner's/manager's permission before expressing themselves. To impose their own idea of art on everyone who seeks pleasure in the natural world is nothing but vandalism by graffiti. I often wonder how they'd react if someone applied "artistic" words or figures to their home or vehicle.

      It's sad that Tulsa's "one little small wilderness" is now being used to impose some people's idea of inspiration or religion on others -- they may be inspired or reverent, but others are no doubt offended, I would be.

  3. Very interesting--I have never ran across this. I hope it doesn't start happening here. I agree that natural areas should be natural.


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