Activities Inside a Sod House

Games and Drum Dancing Illustration

Illustration by Autumn Downey (PWNHC)

Games and Drum Dancing

Games, storytelling and drum dancing were among the many social activities carried out in sod houses.

Kaiptaq or 'spinning top'

This top was made by inserting a wooden stick through a circular piece of bone.

Handle for a qilaun, or drum

Inuvialuit made drums by stretching a piece of thin caribou skin over a hoop. The drum was held by a handle attached to the hoop. A long wand made from wood or antler was used to strike the drum. Usually the hoop and the skin were struck at the same time. Inuvialuit drummed to accompany songs and dances.

Mitqutausiqpik, or 'needle case'

Inuvialuit needle cases were often made from a piece of hollow bird bone. Needles, also made from bird bone, were carefully rolled into small pieces of hide and stuffed into the needle case.

Drum Dancing

Games and Drum Dancing Illustration

See the motions of an Inuvialuit drum dance - Illustration by Autumn Downey (PWNHC)


The Inuvialuit have a long tradition of using songs and chants to recount legends, stories, and traditions.

Against a backdrop of drumming, chanting and singing, dancers reenact feats and accomplishments. In this way, Inuvialuit history is handed down through the generations.

"Songs usually start softly with drummers tapping their drums and dancers swaying rhythmically. As a song starts over, drums are struck harder, and the people sing louder. Dancers throw their bodies into the song with arms and knees bent, their outstretched, open hands wave to and fro capturing the drum beat." (quoted from Inuvialuit Regional Corporation website)