Most women in the Arctic began sewing as children, making simple dolls from scraps to play with, to learn about life and to hone their sewing skills in preparation for keeping their family clothed as adults. Some enjoyed their doll-making so much that they continued to evolve their own unique style and continue making dolls to sell. Some are exquisitely traditional in fur (Eliktaq ᐃᓕᒃᑖᖅ), some are modern-traditional (Peeteekootee ᐲᑎᒃᑰᑎ, Arnouyok ᐊᕐᓇᐅᔪᖅ Tuluralik, Teresa ᑎᕇᓯ Totalik), some have unique features such as all faces, including babies, carved of antler (Keerook ᕿᖪᒃ), while another is wildly abstract (Arnapsakak ᐊᕐᓇᑉᐊᓛᖅ), all charmingly describe Arctic life and culture.
The Inuit culture includes stories of humans that could change into animals and then back into human form. Peeteekootee, a very talented artist, was already making soft sculptures of ‘Bird Woman’ and ‘Nuluajuk ᓄᓕᐊᔪᒃ the Sea Goddess’ so she was asked if she would try her imagination and skill on an Arctic hare in an amauti or ‘packing parka,’ carrying a baby hare – as humans do for the first three years of their baby’s life. Discussions about the idea at the craft shop were hilarious but Peeteekootee produced an exquisite hare complete with every seam and pattern piece of the packing parka replicated in miniature. She then tried her hand at making a raven and an owl, the two birds that are in the Arctic year around, along with other creatures of the land and sea. Two legends also became part of the series: Nuluajuk, Goddess of the Sea and Thunderwoman. As she designed each packing animal or legend, she taught other ladies how to make them and as each packing animal was completed the maker embroidered her signature in syllabics on the piece. In a conversation fifty years later, Peeteekootee’s son ᐸᒥᐅᖅ recalled how he and his sister as children tried hard not to laugh at their parents (their father was a talented carver with a very different artistic style from Peeteekootee) as they argued over how the packing animal should look! All of the packing animals in the series have been registered under the Industrial Design Protection Act.
Peeteekootee also designed a duffle polar bear which was submitted to Design Canada 1974 Craft Awards, and it won first place in the toy category of the competition.