Winter Games Logo More Obscure Than a Pile of Rocks
Inuit stone marker inukshuk now a popular lawn ornament
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2010 9:29 AM CST
Practically, Inuit used inukshuit to mark boat landings, camping sites, or to memorialize past events.   (?D'Arcy Norman)
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(Newser) – The answer to the head-scratching surrounding the Vancouver Olympics logo—“It looks like an alien,” says one spectator—is a head-scratching name: inukshuk. It means “something that substitutes for a person” in Inuit, and denotes a traditional marker built to mark camp sites or memorialize tragedy. It’s also the roundabout inspiration for Vancouver’s anthropomorphized version and a craze that’s sweeping Canada.

Towns across Canada are building their own massive stone Olympic inukshuit (the plural of the word) to mark the passing of the torch, and they’ve become popular lawn ornaments. Natives are perplexed. First of all, they’re not supposed to look like a person, just stand in for them, and they’re really supposed to be practical. “All Inuit are told not to make any inukshuk without a purpose,” an advocate tells the Wall Street Journal. But it's a bit too late for that sentiment, if you go by the logo’s creator. “The inukshuk kind of gives you a hug,” she says.