Mathematics in the Inuit Community


  1. At the beginning of the reading, Leroy Little Bear (2000) states that colonialism “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human world views. Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77). Think back on your experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics. Were there aspects of it that were oppressive and/or discriminating for you or other students?
  2. After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.


  1. After learning about the Inuit ways of knowing and learning math, I believe that the ways I was taught math, were geared toward western ways of knowing rather than Indigenous ways of knowing. There was a right and a wrong answer, and it was not practical. I am struggling now in even everyday math problems because I was not taught how to apply it. Math how I learned it was also discriminatory  based on learning abilities. For example, in the 30 level maths, there were only a few of us still comprehending the content. There was not a lot of accommodation regarding learning abilities.
  2. 3 ways Inuit ways of knowing math that differ from Eurocentric:
    • Practical ways of measuring, such as by the length of an arm, rather than units such as inches or metres.
    • Scale was based off of 20, not 10. Thus, they did not begin repeating until they reached 400, rather than 100.
    • There were various (sometimes up to 6) ways of describing numbers/measurements, rather than one way.

2 thoughts on “Mathematics in the Inuit Community

  1. How interesting is it that though curriculum/teachers try their best to teach a variety of ways to formulate how to teach math – it still is very “westernized”?
    I took a math class two years ago at FNU – it was so fun! I really appreciated learning about base 20, plus it was simple.


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