Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik October 19, 2012 - 1:21 pm

Nunavik town’s rock-hewn faces baffle observers

“I don’t know the reason why they’re on the mountain"

JUSTIN NOBEL
Here's a good look at one of Salluit's rock faces which overlook the Hudson Strait community of 1,200. (PHOTO BY LUCASSIE UITANGIE USUITUAYUK)
Here's a good look at one of Salluit's rock faces which overlook the Hudson Strait community of 1,200. (PHOTO BY LUCASSIE UITANGIE USUITUAYUK)
This photo shows where the rock faces are located in Salluit. (PHOTO BY LUCASSIE UITANGIE USUITUAYUK)
This photo shows where the rock faces are located in Salluit. (PHOTO BY LUCASSIE UITANGIE USUITUAYUK)

In an outcrop of white and rusty red rocks on the mountain above Salluit, many residents have seen faces.

The question is, just what do they mean?

“I don’t know the reason why they’re on the mountain,” said Lucassie Uitangie Usuituayuk, who was first shown the faces as a young boy. “No one really knows what’s going on.”

According to Uitangie, there is a face like that of the Virgin Mary, and another face that may resemble Jesus.

He has begun photographing the faces and posting some of the photos on the internet. There has been interest, but overall the phenomenon has gone unnoticed by the outside world.

“I don’t know why people are not talking about it,” said Usuituayuk.

People may not be discussing Salluit’s rock faces, at least not yet, but there are other places on earth, and even off of it, where faces seen in the rocks have caused quite a stir.

A mountain called “Lover’s Rock” in southern Spain resembles a face lying down and is connected to a sad tale of unrequited love between a young Christian man from Spain and an African woman.

Mount Yiouktas, on the Greek island of Crete boasts a stunning face-like rock formation that is said to be the profile of Zeus, the powerful Greek god of sky and thunder.

And several temples have sprung up in the region surrounding an amazingly realistic face seen in the rocky mountains above the Indian city of Junagadh. Followers of the Hindu faith believe that climbing barefoot between these temples will land them a place in heaven.

Then of course there’s the eerie face in the rocks on Mars, captured by NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft. The face has become a legendary piece of evidence among searchers for extraterrestrial life.

But two years ago, NASA released a high-resolution image of the face that revealed it to be nothing but a dusty mesa.

Whether faces in the rock are the work of God, an alien race, or just the result of the boring old processes of geology, they still can leave an incredible imprint on the human soul.

Randy and Judy Brown, of Littleton, Colorado know this better than anyone. On April 20, 1999, two students stormed their local high school—the now famous Columbine High School —with rifles and shotguns, killing 12 students, one teacher and themselves.

Both of the Brown’s sons survived the incident, but it left the family terribly shaken. One of their sons was accosted by one of the killers in the parking lot, right before the shooting rampage began. Their other son was in the school cafeteria, where several students were shot.

In the aftermath that followed, there were funerals and journalists and countless questions by the authorities. To clear their minds, the Browns began taking walks in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which tower above their town. And on those walks they began seeing faces in the rocks.

“We have Thomas Jefferson, a wise old American Indian, Jesus, a sad lady and a courageous man,” explained Randy Brown. “His face just emanates courage and strength.”

The couple began photographing the faces, then showing the photos to friends and neighbors, who suggested that they write a book. The result is “Faces in the Rocks,” a glossy 288 page photo book the Brown’s published in 2007.

“It was a way to heal for us, and get back to nature,” said Randy. “Even on the worst day you’d be up there and you’d quiet your mind, there’d be deer and squirrel and chipmunks. It was just a way of getting away from the sadness of the world and that helped us a lot.”

When asked if he thought the faces were a sign from God or a higher power, Randy said that he was not religious but his wife was very spiritual, and they both believed that there was a deeper meaning to the faces.

“They are more than just superficial faces,” said Randy. “We have an emotional connection to them, they almost became friends.”

Back in Salluit, there is indeed some excitement over the faces in the rocks, but many people in the community remain unaware of their presence.

And some just don’t think they are that great a topic of conversation.

Still, Usuituayuk enjoys telling southerners and uninformed locals about the faces. But when asked if he thought they should be preserved as part of some sort of shrine or park, he said no.

“We don’t celebrate about those faces,” said Usuituayuk. “They’re just there.”

This photo has shows the location of the faces outlined in red. (PHOTO BY LUCASSIE UITANGIE USUITUAYUK)
This photo has shows the location of the faces outlined in red. (PHOTO BY LUCASSIE UITANGIE USUITUAYUK)
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