Formation of Irritchiaq

Another story set long ago explains the formation, during an earthquake, of Irritchiaq (“new mountain”), located inland and south of Herschel Island. A powerful earthquake is also mentioned in the oral tradition of the Nunamiut (see Gubser 1965:34). The mountain Irritchiaq contains an important archaeological site named Engigstciak (MacNeish 1956). Lily Lipscombe tells:


They claim that years, this is years and years ago.

Before my mom probably even existed.

They claim that when they went to,

these people that go to hunt sheep

from Herschel or wherever.

Probably not Herschel, Herschel was not existing too.

But they’d go up and hunt sheep.


And then there was a real violent earthquake

or something afterwards.

But these people always went through that path.

And then these ones, years later

when they went through that path

and that old man was with them.

And all of a sudden there was a new mountain.

This is the way the story goes.


That is why they called it Irritchiaq (“new mountain”).

All of a sudden, people had a place to go climb

and see if there is any sheep close by.

That’s the way the story goes. Anyhow, it could be old. (1191-24A:11) 



Excerpt from Nagy, Murielle Ida. 1994:23. Yukon North Slope Inuvialuit Oral History. Yukon Tourism, Heritage Branch.

Photo Source: Sandra Angers-Blondin,