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Inuit

Inuit

Overview
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 inhabiting the Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 regions of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 (Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

, Nunatsiavut
Nunatsiavut
Nunatsiavut is an autonomous area claimed by the Inuit in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The settlement area includes territory in Labrador extending to the Quebec border. In 2002, the Labrador Inuit Association submitted a proposal for limited autonomy to the government of Newfoundland and...

, Nunavik
Nunavik
Nunavik comprises the northern third of the province of Quebec, Canada. Covering a land area of 443,684.71 km² north of the 55th parallel, it is the homeland of the Inuit of Quebec...

, Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

, Nunatukavut
Nunatukavut
Nunatuĸavut or NunatuKavut means "Our ancient land" in the ancestral Inuktitut dialect of the NunatuKavummuit people. The Inuit region encompasses Southern Labrador, from the Churchill River, South to Lodge Bay and West to the extent of the official border between Quebec and Labrador...

), Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 (Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

), Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 (Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

) and the United States (Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

). Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language. An Inuk is singular for Inuit person, whereas Inuit is Plural. The Inuit language
Inuit language
The Inuit language is traditionally spoken across the North American Arctic and to some extent in the subarctic in Labrador. The related Yupik languages are spoken in western and southern Alaska and Russian Far East, particularly the Diomede Islands, but is severely endangered in Russia today and...

 is grouped under Eskimo–Aleut languages.

The Inuit live throughout most of the Canadian Arctic
Northern Canada
Northern Canada, colloquially the North, is the vast northernmost region of Canada variously defined by geography and politics. Politically, the term refers to the three territories of Canada: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut...

 and subarctic
Subarctic
The Subarctic is a region in the Northern Hemisphere immediately south of the true Arctic and covering much of Alaska, Canada, the north of Scandinavia, Siberia, and northern Mongolia...

: in the territory
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

 of Nunavut ("our land"); the northern third of Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, in an area called Nunavik ("place to live"); the coastal region of Labrador
Labrador
Labrador is the distinct, northerly region of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It comprises the mainland portion of the province, separated from the island of Newfoundland by the Strait of Belle Isle...

, in areas called Nunatsiavut ("our beautiful land") and Nunatukavut ("Our Ancient Land"); in various parts of the Northwest Territories, mainly on the coast of the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

 and formerly in the Yukon
Yukon
Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada's three federal territories. It was named after the Yukon River. The word Yukon means "Great River" in Gwich’in....

.
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 inhabiting the Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 regions of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 (Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

, Nunatsiavut
Nunatsiavut
Nunatsiavut is an autonomous area claimed by the Inuit in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The settlement area includes territory in Labrador extending to the Quebec border. In 2002, the Labrador Inuit Association submitted a proposal for limited autonomy to the government of Newfoundland and...

, Nunavik
Nunavik
Nunavik comprises the northern third of the province of Quebec, Canada. Covering a land area of 443,684.71 km² north of the 55th parallel, it is the homeland of the Inuit of Quebec...

, Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

, Nunatukavut
Nunatukavut
Nunatuĸavut or NunatuKavut means "Our ancient land" in the ancestral Inuktitut dialect of the NunatuKavummuit people. The Inuit region encompasses Southern Labrador, from the Churchill River, South to Lodge Bay and West to the extent of the official border between Quebec and Labrador...

), Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 (Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

), Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 (Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

) and the United States (Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

). Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language. An Inuk is singular for Inuit person, whereas Inuit is Plural. The Inuit language
Inuit language
The Inuit language is traditionally spoken across the North American Arctic and to some extent in the subarctic in Labrador. The related Yupik languages are spoken in western and southern Alaska and Russian Far East, particularly the Diomede Islands, but is severely endangered in Russia today and...

 is grouped under Eskimo–Aleut languages.

The Inuit live throughout most of the Canadian Arctic
Northern Canada
Northern Canada, colloquially the North, is the vast northernmost region of Canada variously defined by geography and politics. Politically, the term refers to the three territories of Canada: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut...

 and subarctic
Subarctic
The Subarctic is a region in the Northern Hemisphere immediately south of the true Arctic and covering much of Alaska, Canada, the north of Scandinavia, Siberia, and northern Mongolia...

: in the territory
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

 of Nunavut ("our land"); the northern third of Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, in an area called Nunavik ("place to live"); the coastal region of Labrador
Labrador
Labrador is the distinct, northerly region of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It comprises the mainland portion of the province, separated from the island of Newfoundland by the Strait of Belle Isle...

, in areas called Nunatsiavut ("our beautiful land") and Nunatukavut ("Our Ancient Land"); in various parts of the Northwest Territories, mainly on the coast of the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

 and formerly in the Yukon
Yukon
Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada's three federal territories. It was named after the Yukon River. The word Yukon means "Great River" in Gwich’in....

. Collectively these areas are known as Inuit Nunangat.

In the U.S., Alaskan Inupiat live on the North Slope of Alaska
Alaska North Slope
The Alaska North Slope is the region of the U.S. state of Alaska located on the northern slope of the Brooks Range along the coast of two marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean, the Chukchi Sea being on the western side of Point Barrow, and the Beaufort Sea on the eastern.The region contains the...

 and Siberian Coast, Little Diomede Island and Big Diomede Island. Greenland's Kalaallit
Kalaallit
Kalaallit is the contemporary term in the Kalaallisut language for the indigenous people living in Greenland, also called the Kalaallit Nunaat. The singular term is kalaaleq. The Kalaallit are a part of the Arctic Inuit people. The language spoken by Inuit in Greenland is Kalaallisut.Historically,...

 are citizens of Denmark.

In Alaska, the term Eskimo
Eskimo
Eskimos or Inuit–Yupik peoples are indigenous peoples who have traditionally inhabited the circumpolar region from eastern Siberia , across Alaska , Canada, and Greenland....

 is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat, while Inuit is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat (who technically are Inuit). No universal term other than Eskimo, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, exists for the Inuit and Yupik peoples.

In Canada and Greenland, the Natives prefer the word Inuit. As they consider "Eskimo" pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

, it has fallen out of favour. In Canada, the Constitution Act of 1982
Constitution Act, 1982
The Constitution Act, 1982 is a part of the Constitution of Canada. The Act was introduced as part of Canada's process of "patriating" the constitution, introducing several amendments to the British North America Act, 1867, and changing the latter's name in Canada to the Constitution Act, 1867...

, sections 25
Section Twenty-five of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section Twenty-five of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the first section under the heading "General" in the Charter, and like other sections within the "General" sphere, it aids in the interpretation of rights elsewhere in the Charter...

 and 35
Section Thirty-five of the Constitution Act, 1982
Section thirty-five of the Constitution Act, 1982 provides constitutional protection to the aboriginal and treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. The section, while within the Constitution Act, 1982 and thus the Constitution of Canada, falls outside the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms...

 recognised the Inuit as a distinctive group of Canadian aboriginals
Aboriginal peoples in Canada
Aboriginal peoples in Canada comprise the First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The descriptors "Indian" and "Eskimo" have fallen into disuse in Canada and are commonly considered pejorative....

, who are neither First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

nor Métis
Métis people (Canada)
The Métis are one of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada who trace their descent to mixed First Nations parentage. The term was historically a catch-all describing the offspring of any such union, but within generations the culture syncretised into what is today a distinct aboriginal group, with...

.

Early history

For pre-history, see: Paleo-Indians and Archaic periods (Canada)

Inuit are the descendants of what anthropologist
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

s call the Thule culture
Thule people
The Thule or proto-Inuit were the ancestors of all modern Inuit. They developed in coastal Alaska by AD 1000 and expanded eastwards across Canada, reaching Greenland by the 13th century. In the process, they replaced people of the earlier Dorset culture that had previously inhabited the region...

, who emerged from western Alaska around 1000 AD and spread eastwards across the Arctic. They displaced the related Dorset culture
Dorset culture
The Dorset culture was a Paleo-Eskimo culture that preceded the Inuit culture in Arctic North America. It has been defined as having four phases, with distinct technology related to the people's hunting and tool making...

, the last major Paleo-Eskimo
Paleo-Eskimo
The Paleo-Eskimo were the peoples who inhabited the Arctic region from Chukotka in present-day Russia across North America to Greenland prior to the rise of the modern Inuit and/or Eskimo and related cultures...

 culture (in Inuktitut
Inuktitut
Inuktitut or Eastern Canadian Inuktitut, Eastern Canadian Inuit language is the name of some of the Inuit languages spoken in Canada...

, called the Tuniit). Inuit legends speak of the Tuniit as "giants", people who were taller and stronger than the Inuit. Less frequently, the legends refer to the Dorset as "dwarfs". Researchers believe that the Dorset culture lacked dogs, larger weapons and other technologies that gave the expanding Inuit society an advantage. By 1300, the Inuit had settled in west Greenland, and they moved into east Greenland over the following century.

Faced with population pressures from the Thule and other surrounding groups, such as the Algonquian
Algonquian peoples
The Algonquian are one of the most populous and widespread North American native language groups, with tribes originally numbering in the hundreds. Today hundreds of thousands of individuals identify with various Algonquian peoples...

 and Siouan
Siouan languages
The Western Siouan languages, also called Siouan proper or simply Siouan, are a Native American language family of North America, and the second largest indigenous language family in North America, after Algonquian...

 to the south, the Tuniit gradually receded. They were thought to have become completely extinct as a people by about 1400–1500 AD.

But, in the mid 1950s, researcher Henry B. Collins determined that, based on the ruins found at Native Point
Native Point
Native Point is a peninsula in Kivalliq Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is located on Southampton Island's Bell Peninsula at the mouth of Native Bay.-Archaeological site:...

, the Sadlermiut
Sadlermiut
The Sadlermiut were an Eskimo group living in near isolation mainly on and around Coats Island, Walrus Island, and Southampton Island in Hudson Bay...

 were likely the last remnants of the Dorset culture. The Sadlermiut population survived up until winter 1902–03, when exposure to new infectious disease
Infectious disease
Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...

s brought by contact with Europeans led to their extinction as a people. More recently, mitochondrial DNA research has supported the theory of continuity between the Tuniit and the Sadlermiut. It also has provided evidence that a population displacement did not occur within the Aleutian Islands between the Dorset and Thule transition. In contrast to other Tuniit populations, the Aleut and Sadlermiut benefited from both geographical isolation and their ability to adopt certain Thule technologies.

In Canada and Greenland, Inuit circulated almost exclusively north of the "Arctic tree line", the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

southern border of Inuit society. The most southern "officially recognized" Inuit community in the world is Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Newfoundland and Labrador. South of Nunatsiavut, the descendants of the southern Labrador Inuit in NunatuKavut continued their traditional transhumant, semi-nomadic way of life until the mid-1900s. The NunatuKavummuit were usually spread out among islands and bays and therefore did not establish stationary communities. In other areas south of the tree line, Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 cultures were well established. The culture and technology of Inuit society that served so well in the Arctic were not suited to subarctic regions, so they did not displace their southern neighbours.

Inuit had trade relations with more southern cultures; boundary disputes were common and gave rise to aggressive actions. War
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

fare, in general, was not uncommon among those Inuit groups with sufficient population density. Inuit, such as the Nunatamiut
Nunatamiut
The Nunatamiut are an Alaskan Inuit nomadic group who lived in the Alaskan interior and were known as great caribou hunters. When caribou numbers dwindled in the 19th century, some Nunatamiut migrated towards the Mackenzie River delta...

(Uummarmiut
Uummarmiut
The Uummarmiut is the name given to the Inuvialuit who live predominantly in the Mackenzie Delta communities of Aklavik and Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada...

) who inhabited the Mackenzie River
Mackenzie River
The Mackenzie River is the largest river system in Canada. It flows through a vast, isolated region of forest and tundra entirely within the country's Northwest Territories, although its many tributaries reach into four other Canadian provinces and territories...

 delta area, often engaged in warfare. The Central Arctic Inuit lacked the population density to do so.

Their first Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an contacts were with the Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

s who settled in Greenland and explored the eastern Canadian coast. The Norse
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 literature noted skræling
Skræling
Skræling is the name the Norse Greenlanders used for the indigenous peoples they encountered in North America and Greenland. In surviving sources it is first applied to the Thule people, the Eskimo group with whom the Norse coexisted in Greenland after about the 13th century...

ar
, most likely an undifferentiated label for all the native peoples of the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 whom the Norse encountered: Tuniit, Inuit and Beothuk
Beothuk
The Beothuk were one of the aboriginal peoples in Canada. They lived on the island of Newfoundland at the time of European contact in the 15th and 16th centuries...

 alike.

Sometime in the 13th century, the Thule culture began arriving in Greenland from what is now Canada. Norse accounts are scant; however, Norse-made items have been found at Inuit campsites in Greenland. It is unclear whether they were there as the result of trade or plunder. One old account speaks of "small people" with whom the Norsemen fought. Ívar Bárðarson's 14th-century account noted that the western settlement, one of the two Norse settlements, had been taken over by the skrælings. The reason why the Norse settlements failed is unclear. The last record of them is from 1408, roughly the same period as the earliest Inuit settlements in east Greenland.

After about 1350, the climate grew colder during the period known as the Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

. Inuit were forced to abandon hunting and whaling sites in the high Arctic. As bowhead whaling
Bowhead Whale
The bowhead whale is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae in suborder Mysticeti. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh to , second only to the blue whale, although the bowhead's maximum length is less than...

 disappeared in Canada and Greenland, Inuit had to subsist on a much poorer diet. In addition, they lost access to essential raw materials derived from whaling
Whaling
Whaling is the hunting of whales mainly for meat and oil. Its earliest forms date to at least 3000 BC. Various coastal communities have long histories of sustenance whaling and harvesting beached whales...

 for their tools and architecture. During this period, Alaskan natives were, however, able to continue their whaling activities.

The changing climate forced Inuit to work their way south, forcing them into marginal niches along the edges of the tree line. These were areas which Native Americans had not occupied, or where they were weak enough for coexistence with Inuit. Researchers have difficulty defining when Inuit stopped territorial expansion. There is evidence that they were still moving into new territory in southern Labrador when they first began to interact with colonial North Americans
European colonization of the Americas
The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492. The first Europeans to reach the Americas were the Vikings during the 11th century, who established several colonies in Greenland and one short-lived settlement in present day Newfoundland...

 in the 17th century.

Nomenclature



In Canada and Greenland, the term Eskimo has fallen out of favor, as Natives consider it pejorative. It has been replaced by Inuit. But, while Inuit describes all of the Eskimo peoples in Canada and Greenland, it does not encompass all the peoples in Alaska and Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

.

In Alaska, the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it applies to both Yupik and Inupiat peoples. Inuit is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat (which technically is Inuit). No universal term other than Eskimo, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, exists for the Inuit and Yupik peoples.

Inuit, Inupiat and Yupik



The Inuit Circumpolar Council, a United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

-recognised non-governmental organization
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

 (NGO), defines its constituency to include Canada's Inuit and Inuvialuit
Inuvialuit
The Inuvialuit or Western Canadian Inuit are Inuit people who live in the western Canadian Arctic region. They, like all other Inuit, are descendants of the Thule who migrated eastward from Alaska...

; Greenland's Kalaallit Inuit; Alaska's Inupiat and Yup'ik people; and the Siberian Yupik
Siberian Yupik
Siberian Yupiks, or Yuits, are indigenous people who reside along the coast of the Chukchi Peninsula in the far northeast of the Russian Federation and on St. Lawrence Island in Alaska. They speak Central Siberian Yupik , a Yupik language of the Eskimo–Aleut family of languages.They were also...

 people of Russia.

However, the Yupik of Alaska and Siberia do not consider themselves Inuit. Ethnographers agree they are a distinct people. They prefer to be called Yup'ik, Yupiit, or Eskimo. The Yupik languages are linguistically distinct from the Inuit languages.

Canada's Constitution Act, 1982 recognised the Inuit as Aboriginal peoples in Canada, which also include First Nations and Métis peoples. The Inuit are not to be confused with the Innu
Innu
The Innu are the indigenous inhabitants of an area they refer to as Nitassinan , which comprises most of the northeastern portions of the provinces of Quebec and some western portions of Labrador...

, a distinct First Nations people who live in northeastern Quebec and Labrador. They speak an Algonquian
Algonquian languages
The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...

 language known as Innu-aimun
Innu-aimun
Innu-aimun or Montagnais is an Algonquian language spoken by over 11,000 people, called the Innu, in Labrador and Quebec in Eastern Canada...

or Montagnais.

Cultural history




Language



The Inuit speak chiefly one of the traditional Inuit language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

s or dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

s, sometimes grouped under the term Inuktitut, but they may also speak the predominant language of the country in which they reside. Inuktitut is mainly spoken in Nunavut and, as the Greenlandic language, in some parts of Greenland.

Some of the Inuit dialects were recorded in the 18th century. Until the latter half of the 20th century, most Inuit were not able to read and write in their own language. In the 1760s, Moravian missionaries arrived in Greenland, where they contributed to the development of a written system of language called Qaliujaaqpait, based on the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

. The missionaries later brought this system to Labrador, from which it eventually spread as far as Alaska.

The Inuktitut syllabary
Inuktitut syllabics
Inuktitut syllabics is a writing system used by the Inuit in Nunavut and in Nunavik, Quebec...

 used in Canada is based on the Cree syllabary
Cree syllabics
Cree syllabics, found in two primary variants, are the versions of Canadian Aboriginal syllabics used to write Cree dialects, including the original syllabics system created for Cree and Ojibwe. Syllabics were later adapted to several other languages...

 devised by the missionary James Evans and developed by Edmund Peck
Edmund Peck
Edmund James Peck , known in as Inuktitut as Uqammaq , was an Anglican missionary in Canada...

. The present form of the syllabary
Syllabary
A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent syllables, which make up words. In a syllabary, there is no systematic similarity between the symbols which represent syllables with the same consonant or vowel...

 for Canadian Inuktitut was adopted by the Inuit Cultural Institute in Canada in the 1970s. The Inuit in Alaska, the Inuvialuit, Inuvialuktun
Inuvialuktun
Inuvialuktun, or Western Canadian Inuit language, Western Canadian Inuktitut, Western Canadian Inuktun comprises three Inuit dialects spoken in the northern Northwest Territories by those Canadian Inuit who call themselves Inuvialuk .Inuvialuktun is spoken by the Inuit of the Mackenzie River delta...

 speakers; and Inuit in Greenland and Labrador use the Roman alphabet, although it has been adapted for their use in different ways.

Though conventionally called a syllabary, the writing system has been classified by some observers as an abugida
Abugida
An abugida , also called an alphasyllabary, is a segmental writing system in which consonant–vowel sequences are written as a unit: each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel notation is obligatory but secondary...

. Syllables starting with the same consonant have related glyphs rather than unrelated ones. All of the characters needed for the Inuktitut syllabary are available in the Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 character repertoire. (See Canadian Aboriginal syllabics
Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics
Canadian Aboriginal syllabic writing, or simply syllabics, is a family of abugidas used to write a number of Aboriginal Canadian languages of the Algonquian, Inuit, and Athabaskan language families....

 character table.) The territorial government of Nunavut has developed a TrueType
TrueType
TrueType is an outline font standard originally developed by Apple Computer in the late 1980s as a competitor to Adobe's Type 1 fonts used in PostScript...

 font called Pigiarniq for computer displays, designed by Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

-based Tiro Typeworks.

The Inuit language is written in several different ways, depending on the dialect and region, but also on historical and political factors. In Greenland during the 1760s, Moravian missionaries
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 intending to introduce Inuit to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 through the Bible contributed to the development of an Inuktitut writing
Inuktitut writing
The Inuktitut language is written in different ways in different places. In Greenland, Alaska, Labrador, the Inuvik Region of the Northwest Territories and in the western part of the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut, it is written with the Latin alphabet...

 system that was based on Roman orthography. When they travelled to Labrador in the 19th century, they brought the written Inuktitut with them. The Roman alphabet-writing scheme is distinguished by its inclusion of the letter kra
Kra (letter)
Kra is a character formerly used to write the Kalaallisut language of Greenland and is now only found in the Labrador Inuit Language of Inuttitut, a distinct Inuktitut dialect. It is visually similar to a Latin small capital letter K and the Greek letter kappa κ.It is used to denote the sound...

. The Alaskan Yupik and Inupiat, and the Siberian Yupik also adopted the system of Roman orthography. In addition, the Alaskan peoples developed their own system of hieroglyphics.

Eastern Canadian Inuit were the last to adopt the written word. In the 1860s, missionaries imported the written system Qaniujaaqpait which they had developed in their efforts to convert
Convert
The convert or try, in American football known as "point after", and Canadian football "Point after touchdown", is a one-scrimmage down played immediately after a touchdown during which the scoring team is allowed to attempt to score an extra one point by kicking the ball through the uprights , or...

 the Cree
Cree
The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations / Native Americans in North America, with 200,000 members living in Canada. In Canada, the major proportion of Cree live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, although...

 to Christianity. The last Inuit to encounter missionaries and writing were the Netsilik Inuit
Netsilik Inuit
The Netsilik Inuit live predominantly in the communities of Kugaaruk and Gjoa Haven of the Kitikmeot Region, Nunavut and to a smaller extent in Taloyoak and the north Qikiqtaaluk Region...

 in Kugaaruk
Kugaaruk, Nunavut
-Culture:The historical inhabitants were Arviligjuarmiut. Kugaaruk is a traditional "Central Inuit" community. Until 1968, the people followed a nomadic lifestyle. The population is approximately 97% Inuit and most people self-identify as Netsilik Inuit. The residents blend a land based lifestyle...

 and north Baffin Island
Baffin Island
Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut is the largest island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island in the world. Its area is and its population is about 11,000...

. The Netsilik adopted Qaniujaaqpait by the 1920s.

As the "Greenlandic" system has been substantially reformed in recent years, Labrador writing has become used only for the Nunatsiavummiutut
Nunatsiavummiutut
The Nunatsiavummiut dialect, or Nunatsiavummiutut, also known as Labradorimiutut and called Inuttut by its speakers, is a dialect of the Inuit language...

 dialect. In Nunavut and Nunavik, most people write Inuktitut using a scheme called Qaniujaaqpait, or Inuktitut syllabics, based on Canadian Aboriginal syllabics. The western part of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories use a Roman orthography (alphabet scheme) usually identified as Inuinnaqtun
Inuinnaqtun
Inuinnaqtun , is an indigenous Inuit language of Canada and a dialect of Inuvialuktun. It is related very closely to Inuktitut, and some scholars, such as Richard Condon, believe that Inuinnaqtun is more appropriately classified as a dialect of Inuktitut...

or Qaliujaaqpait. This reflects the influence of the missionaries who reached this area in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Diet



The Inuit have traditionally been fishers and hunters. They still hunt whale
Whale
Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...

s (esp. bowhead whale
Bowhead Whale
The bowhead whale is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae in suborder Mysticeti. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh to , second only to the blue whale, although the bowhead's maximum length is less than...

), walrus
Walrus
The walrus is a large flippered marine mammal with a discontinuous circumpolar distribution in the Arctic Ocean and sub-Arctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. The walrus is the only living species in the Odobenidae family and Odobenus genus. It is subdivided into three subspecies: the Atlantic...

, caribou
Reindeer
The reindeer , also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic, including both resident and migratory populations. While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and one has already gone extinct.Reindeer vary considerably in color and size...

, seal
Pinniped
Pinnipeds or fin-footed mammals are a widely distributed and diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals comprising the families Odobenidae , Otariidae , and Phocidae .-Overview: Pinnipeds are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped...

, polar bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

s, muskoxen, birds, and at times other less commonly eaten animals such as the Arctic Fox
Arctic fox
The arctic fox , also known as the white fox, polar fox or snow fox, is a small fox native to Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and is common throughout the Arctic tundra biome. The Greek word alopex, means a fox and Vulpes is the Latin version...

. The typical Inuit diet is high in protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

 and very high in fat
Animal fat
Animal fats are rendered tissue fats that can be obtained from a variety of animals.- Pet nutrition :In pet nutrition, the source of animal fat concerns food manufacturers. AAFCO states that animal fat is "obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial processes of rendering...

 – in their traditional diets, Inuit consumed an average of 75% of their daily energy intake from fat. While it is not possible to cultivate plants for food in the Arctic, the Inuit have traditionally gathered those that are naturally available. Grasses
Poaceae
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...

, tuber
Tuber
Tubers are various types of modified plant structures that are enlarged to store nutrients. They are used by plants to survive the winter or dry months and provide energy and nutrients for regrowth during the next growing season and they are a means of asexual reproduction...

s, root
Root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

s, stems
Plant stem
A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

, berries
Berry
The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. Grapes are an example. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. They may have one or more carpels with a thin covering and fleshy interiors....

, and seaweed
Seaweed
Seaweed is a loose, colloquial term encompassing macroscopic, multicellular, benthic marine algae. The term includes some members of the red, brown and green algae...

 (kuanniq or edible seaweed) were collected and preserved depending on the season and the location. There is a vast array of different hunting technologies
North American hunting technologies
-Paleo-Indian weapons technologies:The Clovis spear point is found at nearly all locations in America. It is defined by its relatively large size, and fluted morphology that allows it to be hafted onto the end of a spear. It is of some debate if this was a hand held thrusting spear, or a throwing...

 that the Inuit used to gather their food.

In the 1920s anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Vilhjalmur Stefansson was a Canadian Arctic explorer and ethnologist.-Early life:Stefansson, born William Stephenson, was born at Gimli, Manitoba, Canada, in 1879. His parents had emigrated from Iceland to Manitoba two years earlier...

 lived with and studied a group of Inuit. The study focused on the fact that the Inuit's extremely low-carbohydrate diet
Low-carbohydrate diet
Low-carbohydrate diets or low-carb diets are dietary programs that restrict carbohydrate consumption usually for weight control or for the treatment of obesity. Foods high in digestible carbohydrates are limited or replaced with foods containing a higher percentage of proteins and fats...

 had no adverse effects on their health, nor indeed, Stefansson's own health. Stefansson (1946) also observed that the Inuit were able to get the necessary vitamins they needed from their traditional winter diet, which did not contain any plant matter. In particular, he found that adequate vitamin C
Vitamin C
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. In living organisms ascorbate acts as an antioxidant by protecting the body against oxidative stress...

 could be obtained from items in their traditional diet of raw meat
Raw animal food diets
Foods included in raw animal food diets include any food that can be eaten raw, so including raw, unprocessed meats/organ-meats/raw eggs, raw dairy, and aged, raw animal foods such as century eggs, rotting meat/fish/shellfish/kefir, as well as, to a lesser extent, nuts/sprouts/plants/fruits, but...

 such as Ringed Seal
Ringed Seal
The ringed seal , also known as the jar seal and as netsik or nattiq by the Inuit, is an earless seal inhabiting the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions...

 liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

 and whale skin (muktuk
Muktuk
Muktuk is the English word for the traditional, pre-agrarian, Inuit/Eskimo and Chukchi meal of frozen whale skin and blubber...

). While there was considerable scepticism when he reported these findings, they have been borne out in recent studies.

Transport, navigation, and dogs


The natives hunted sea animals
Marine biology
Marine biology is the scientific study of organisms in the ocean or other marine or brackish bodies of water. Given that in biology many phyla, families and genera have some species that live in the sea and others that live on land, marine biology classifies species based on the environment rather...

 from single-passenger, covered seal-skin boats called qajaq
Kayak
A kayak is a small, relatively narrow, human-powered boat primarily designed to be manually propelled by means of a double blade paddle.The traditional kayak has a covered deck and one or more cockpits, each seating one paddler...

(Inuktitut syllabics: ᖃᔭᖅ) which were extraordinarily buoyant, and could easily be righted by a seated person, even if completely overturned. Because of this property the design was copied by European
Demographics of Europe
Figures for the population of Europe vary according to which definition of European boundaries is used. The population within the standard physical geographical boundaries was 731 million in 2005 according to the United Nations. In 2010 the population is 857 million, using a definition which...

s, and Americans who still produce them under the Inuit name kayak
Kayak
A kayak is a small, relatively narrow, human-powered boat primarily designed to be manually propelled by means of a double blade paddle.The traditional kayak has a covered deck and one or more cockpits, each seating one paddler...

.

Inuit also made umiaq
Umiak
The umiak, umialak, umiaq, umiac, oomiac or oomiak is a type of boat used by Eskimo people, both Yupik and Inuit, and was originally found in all coastal areas from Siberia to Greenland. First arising in Thule times, it has traditionally been used in summer to move people and possessions to...

("woman's boat"), larger open boats made of wood frames covered with animal skins, for transporting people, goods and dogs. They were 6–12 m (19.7–39.4 ft) long and had a flat bottom so that the boats could come close to shore. In the winter, Inuit would also hunt sea mammals
Marine mammal
Marine mammals, which include seals, whales, dolphins, and walruses, form a diverse group of 128 species that rely on the ocean for their existence. They do not represent a distinct biological grouping, but rather are unified by their reliance on the marine environment for feeding. The level of...

 by patiently watching an aglu (breathing hole) in the ice and waiting for the air-breathing seals to use them. This technique is also used by the polar bear, who hunts by seeking holes in the ice and waiting nearby.

On land, the Inuit used dog sled
Dog sled
A dog sled is a sled pulled by one or more sled dogs used to travel over ice and through snow. Numerous types of sleds are used, depending on their function. They can be used for dog sled racing.-History:...

s (qamutik) for transportation. The husky
Husky
Husky is a general name for a type of dog originally used to pull sleds in northern regions, differentiated from other sled dog types by their fast hard pulling style...

dog breed comes from Inuit breeding of dogs and wolves for transportation. A team of dogs
Sled dog
Sled dogs, known also as sleigh man dogs, sledge dogs, or sleddogs, are highly trained types of dogs that are used to pull a dog sled, a wheel-less vehicle on runners also called a sled or sleigh, over snow or ice, by means of harnesses and lines.Sled dogs have become a popular winter recreation...

 in either a tandem/side-by-side or fan formation would pull a sled made of wood, animal bones, or the baleen
Baleen
Baleen or whalebone is a filter-feeder system inside the mouths of baleen whales. The baleen system works when a whale opens its mouth underwater and then water pours into the whale's mouth. The whale then pushes the water out, and animals such as krill are filtered by the baleen and remain as food...

 from a whale's mouth and even frozen fish, over the snow and ice. The Inuit used stars to navigate at sea and landmarks to navigate on land; they possessed a comprehensive native system of toponymy
Toponymy
Toponymy is the scientific study of place names , their origins, meanings, use and typology. The word "toponymy" is derived from the Greek words tópos and ónoma . Toponymy is itself a branch of onomastics, the study of names of all kinds...

. Where natural landmarks were insufficient, the Inuit would erect an inukshuk
Inukshuk
An inuksuk is a stone landmark or cairn built by humans, used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America. These structures are found from Alaska to Greenland...

.

Dogs played an integral role in the annual routine of the Inuit. During the summer they became pack animals, sometimes dragging up to 20 kg (44.1 lb) of baggage and in the winter they pulled the sled. Yearlong they assisted with hunting by sniffing out seals' holes and pestering polar bears. They also protected the Inuit villages by barking at bears and strangers. The Inuit generally favoured, and tried to breed, the most striking and handsome of dogs, especially ones with bright eyes and a healthy coat. Common husky dog breeds used by the Inuit were the Canadian Eskimo Dog
Canadian Eskimo Dog
The Canadian Eskimo Dog is an Arctic breed of dog , which is often considered to be North America’s oldest and rarest remaining purebred indigenous domestic canine. Other names include Qimmiq...

, the official animal of Nunavut, (Qimmiq; Inuktitut for dog), the Greenland Dog
Greenland Dog
The Greenland Dog is a large breed of husky-type dog kept as a sled dog and for hunting polar bear and seal. This is an ancient breed, thought to be directly descended from dogs brought to Greenland by the first Inuit settlers.-Appearance:The Greenland Dog is a powerful, heavy-built dog...

, the Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is a medium-size, dense-coat working dog breed that originated in north-eastern Siberia. The breed belongs to the Spitz genetic family...

 and the Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is a generally large breed of domestic dog originally bred for use as a utilitarian dog and later an Alaskan sled dog. They are sometimes mistaken for a Siberian Husky, but in fact are quite different in many ways...

. The Inuit would perform rituals over the newborn pup to give it favourable qualities; the legs were pulled to make them grow strong and nose was poked with a pin to enhance the sense of smell.

Industry, art, and clothing




Inuit industry relied almost exclusively on animal hides, driftwood
Driftwood
Driftwood is wood that has been washed onto a shore or beach of a sea or river by the action of winds, tides, waves or man. It is a form of marine debris or tidewrack....

, and bones, although some tools were also made out of worked stones, particularly the readily worked soapstone
Soapstone
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock, a talc-schist. It is largely composed of the mineral talc and is thus rich in magnesium. It is produced by dynamothermal metamorphism and metasomatism, which occurs in the areas where tectonic plates are subducted, changing rocks by heat and pressure, with influx...

. Walrus ivory
Walrus ivory
Walrus tusk ivory comes from two modified upper canines. The tusks of a Pacific walrus may attain a length of one meter. Walrus teeth are also commercially carved and traded. The average walrus tooth has a rounded, irregular peg shape and is approximately 5cm in length.The tip of a walrus tusk has...

 was a particularly essential material, used to make knives. Art played a big part in Inuit society and continues to do so today. Small sculptures of animals and human figures, usually depicting everyday activities such as hunting
Hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

 and whaling, were carved from ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 and bone. In modern times prints
Printmaking
Printmaking is the process of making artworks by printing, normally on paper. Printmaking normally covers only the process of creating prints with an element of originality, rather than just being a photographic reproduction of a painting. Except in the case of monotyping, the process is capable...

 and figurative works carved in relatively soft stone such as soapstone
Soapstone
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock, a talc-schist. It is largely composed of the mineral talc and is thus rich in magnesium. It is produced by dynamothermal metamorphism and metasomatism, which occurs in the areas where tectonic plates are subducted, changing rocks by heat and pressure, with influx...

, serpentinite
Serpentinite
Serpentinite is a rock composed of one or more serpentine group minerals. Minerals in this group are formed by serpentinization, a hydration and metamorphic transformation of ultramafic rock from the Earth's mantle...

, or argillite
Argillite
An argillite is a fine-grained sedimentary rock composed predominantly of indurated clay particles. Argillaceous rocks are basically lithified muds and oozes. They contain variable amounts of silt-sized particles. The argillites grade into shale when the fissile layering typical of shale is...

 have also become popular.

Inuit made clothes and footwear from animal skins, sewn together using needles made from animal bones and threads made from other animal products, such as sinew
Tendon
A tendon is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension. Tendons are similar to ligaments and fasciae as they are all made of collagen except that ligaments join one bone to another bone, and fasciae connect muscles to other...

. The anorak
Anorak
An anorak or parka is a type of heavy jacket with a hood, often lined with fur or fake fur, so as to protect the face from a combination of freezing temperatures and wind...

 (parka) is made in a similar fashion by Arctic peoples from Europe through Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and the Americas, including the Inuit. The hood of an amauti
Amauti
The amauti is the traditional eastern Arctic Inuit parka designed to carry a child in the same garment as the parent so that the child is warm and safe from frostbite, wind and cold. The amauti can be made from a variety of materials including sealskin, caribou skin or duffle with a windproof...

, (women's parka, plural amautiit) was traditionally made extra large, to allow the mother to carry a baby against her back and protect it from the harsh wind. Styles vary from region to region, from the shape of the hood to the length of the tails. Boots (mukluk
Mukluk
Mukluks or Kamik are a soft boot traditionally made of reindeer skin or sealskin and were originally worn by Arctic aboriginal people, including the Inuit and Yupik. The term mukluk is often used for any soft boot designed for cold weather and modern designs are often similar to high-top athletic...

or kamiit), could be made of caribou or seal skin, and designed for men and women.

During the winter, certain Inuit lived in a temporary shelter made from snow called an iglu
Igloo
An igloo or snowhouse is a type of shelter built of snow, originally built by the Inuit....

, and during the few months of the year when temperatures were above freezing, they lived in tents made of animal skins supported by a frame of bones. Some, such as the Siglit, used driftwood, while others built sod
Sod
Sod or turf is grass and the part of the soil beneath it held together by the roots, or a piece of thin material.The term sod may be used to mean turf grown and cut specifically for the establishment of lawns...

 houses.

Gender roles, marriage, birth, and community



The division of labour
Division of labour
Division of labour is the specialisation of cooperative labour in specific, circumscribed tasks and likeroles. Historically an increasingly complex division of labour is closely associated with the growth of total output and trade, the rise of capitalism, and of the complexity of industrialisation...

 in traditional Inuit society had a strong gender component, but it was not absolute. The men were traditionally hunters and fishermen and the women took care of the children, cleaned the home, sewed, processed food, and cooked. However, there are numerous examples of women who hunted, out of necessity or as a personal choice. At the same time men, who could be away from camp for several days at a time, would be expected to know how to sew and cook.

The marital customs among the Inuit were not strictly monogamous
Monogamy
Monogamy /Gr. μονός+γάμος - one+marriage/ a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse at any one time. In current usage monogamy often refers to having one sexual partner irrespective of marriage or reproduction...

: many Inuit relationships were implicitly or explicitly sexual. Open marriage
Open marriage
Open marriage typically refers to a marriage in which the partners agree that each may engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without this being regarded as infidelity. There are many different styles of open marriage, with the partners having varying levels of input on their spouse's...

s, polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

, divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

, and remarriage were known. Among some Inuit groups, if there were children, divorce required the approval of the community and particularly the agreement of the elders. Marriages were often arranged
Arranged marriage
An arranged marriage is a practice in which someone other than the couple getting married makes the selection of the persons to be wed, meanwhile curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. Such marriages had deep roots in royal and aristocratic families around the world...

, sometimes in infancy
Child marriage
Child marriage and child betrothal customs occur in various times and places, whereby children are given in matrimony - before marriageable age as defined by the commentator and often before puberty. Today such customs are fairly widespread in parts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America: in...

, and occasionally forced on the couple
Forced marriage
Forced marriage is a term used to describe a marriage in which one or both of the parties is married without his or her consent or against his or her will...

 by the community.
Marriage was common for women at puberty and for men when they became productive hunters. Family
Family
In human context, a family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children...

 structure was flexible: a household might consist of a man and his wife
Nuclear family
Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children. This is in contrast to the smaller single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have...

 (or wives) and children; it might include his parents or his wife's parents as well as adopted children; it might be a larger formation
Extended family
The term extended family has several distinct meanings. In modern Western cultures dominated by nuclear family constructs, it has come to be used generically to refer to grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, whether they live together within the same household or not. However, it may also refer...

 of several siblings with their parents, wives and children; or even more than one family sharing dwellings and resources. Every household had its head, an elder or a particularly respected man.

There was also a larger notion of community as, generally, several families shared a place where they wintered. Goods were shared within a household, and also, to a significant extent, within a whole community.

The Inuit were hunter–gatherers, and have been referred to as nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic.
One of the customs following the birth of an infant was for an Angakkuq
Angakkuq
The Angakkuq , Angatkuq , Angakok or Ilisitsok is the intellectual and spiritual figure among the Inuit and corresponds to a shaman. Not only the Inuit, but also other Eskimo cultures know similar mediator persons...

(shaman
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

) to place a tiny ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 carving of a whale into the baby's mouth, in hopes this would make the child good at hunting. Loud singing and drumming were also customary after a birth.

Raiding


Virtually all Inuit cultures have oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

s of raids by other indigenous peoples, including fellow Inuit, and of taking vengeance on them in return, such as the Bloody Falls Massacre
Bloody Falls Massacre
The Massacre at Bloody Falls was an incident that took place during Samuel Hearne's exploration of the Coppermine River on 17 July 1771. Chipewyan and "Copper Indian" Dene men led by Hearne's guide and companion Matonabbee attacked a group of Copper Inuit camped by rapids approximately upstream...

. Western observers often regarded these tales as generally not entirely accurate historical accounts, but more as self-serving myths. However, evidence shows that Inuit cultures had quite accurate methods of teaching historical accounts to each new generation. In northern Canada, historically there were ethnic feuds between the Dene
Dene
The Dene are an aboriginal group of First Nations who live in the northern boreal and Arctic regions of Canada. The Dené speak Northern Athabaskan languages. Dene is the common Athabaskan word for "people" . The term "Dene" has two usages...

 and the Inuit, as witnessed by Samuel Hearne
Samuel Hearne
Samuel Hearne was a an English explorer, fur-trader, author, and naturalist. He was the first European to make an overland excursion across northern Canada to the Arctic Ocean, actually Coronation Gulf, via the Coppermine River...

 in 1771. In 1996, Dene and Inuit representatives participated in a healing ceremony to reconcile the centuries-old grievances.

The historic accounts of violence against outsiders does make clear that there was a history of hostile contact within the Inuit cultures and with other cultures. It also makes it clear that Inuit nations existed through history, as well as confederations of such nations. The known confederations were usually formed to defend against a more prosperous, and thus stronger, nation. Alternately, people who lived in less productive geographical areas tended to be less warlike, as they had to spend more time producing food.

Justice within Inuit culture was moderated by the form of governance that gave significant power to the elders. As in most cultures around the world, justice could be harsh and often included capital punishment for serious crimes against the community or the individual. During raids against other peoples, the Inuit, like their non-Inuit neighbours, tended to be merciless.

Suicide, murder, and death


"A pervasive European myth about Inuit is that they killed elderly (senicide
Senicide
Senicide or geronticide is the abandonment to death, suicide or killing of the elderly.- History :Societal views and legal repercussions have varied greatly in regards to senicide....

) and unproductive people", but this is not generally true. In a culture with an oral history
Oral history
Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews...

, elders are the keepers of communal knowledge, effectively the community library. Because they are of extreme value as the repository of knowledge, there are cultural taboo
Taboo
A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society...

s against sacrificing elders.

In Antoon A. Leenaar's book Suicide in Canada he states that "Rasmussen found that the death of elders by suicide was a commonplace among the Iglulik Inuit." He heard of many old men and women who had hanged themselves. By ensuring they died a violent death, Inuit elders purified their souls for journey to the afterworld.

According to Franz Boas
Franz Boas
Franz Boas was a German-American anthropologist and a pioneer of modern anthropology who has been called the "Father of American Anthropology" and "the Father of Modern Anthropology." Like many such pioneers, he trained in other disciplines; he received his doctorate in physics, and did...

, suicide was "...not of rare occurrence..." and was generally accomplished through hanging. Writing of the Labrador Inuit, Hawkes (1916) was considerably more explicit on the subject of suicide and the burden of the elderly:
People seeking assistance in their suicide made three consecutive requests to relatives for help. Family members would attempt to dissuade the individual at each suggestion, but with the third request by a person, assistance became obligatory. In some cases, a suicide was a publicly acknowledged and attended event. Once the suicide had been agreed to, the victim would dress him or herself as the dead are clothed, with clothing turned inside out. The death occurred at a specific place, where the material possessions of deceased people were brought to be destroyed.

When food is not sufficient, the elderly are the least likely to survive. In the extreme case of famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

, the Inuit fully understood that, if there was to be any hope of obtaining more food, a hunter was necessarily the one to feed on whatever food was left. However, a common response to desperate conditions and the threat of starvation was infanticide
Infanticide
Infanticide or infant homicide is the killing of a human infant. Neonaticide, a killing within 24 hours of a baby's birth, is most commonly done by the mother.In many past societies, certain forms of infanticide were considered permissible...

. A mother abandoned an infant in hopes that someone less desperate might find and adopt the child before the cold or animals killed it. The belief that the Inuit regularly resorted to infanticide may be due in part to studies done by Asen Balikci, Milton Freeman and David Riches among the Netsilik, along with the trial of Kikkik
Kikkik
Kikkik was an Inuit woman who, in 1958, was charged with but acquitted of murder, child neglect and causing the death of one of her children. Her story was told by Farley Mowat.- Relocation :...

. Other recent research has noted that "While there is little disagreement that there were examples of infanticide in Inuit communities, it is presently not known the depth and breadth of these incidents. The research is neither complete nor conclusive to allow for a determination of whether infanticide was a rare or a widely practiced event."

Anthropologists believed that Inuit cultures routinely killed children born with physical defects because of the demands of the extreme climate. These views were changed by late 20th century discoveries of burials at an archaeological site. Between 1982 and 1994, a storm with high winds caused ocean waves to erode part of the bluffs near Barrow, Alaska
Barrow, Alaska
Barrow is the largest city of the North Slope Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is one of the northernmost cities in the world and is the northernmost city in the United States of America, with nearby Point Barrow being the nation's northernmost point. Barrow's population was 4,212 at the...

, and a body was discovered to have been washed out of the mud. Unfortunately the storm claimed the body, which was not recovered. But examination of the eroded bank indicated that an ancient house, perhaps with other remains, was likely to be claimed by the next storm. The site, known as the "Ukkuqsi archaeological site", was excavated. Several frozen bodies (now known as the "frozen family") were recovered, autopsies were performed, and they were re-interred as the first burials in the then-new Imaiqsaun Cemetery south of Barrow. Years later another body was washed out of the bluff. It was a female child, approximately 9 years old, who had clearly been born with a congenital birth defect
Congenital disorder
A congenital disorder, or congenital disease, is a condition existing at birth and often before birth, or that develops during the first month of life , regardless of causation...

. This child had never been able to walk, but must have been cared for by family throughout her life. She was the best preserved body ever recovered in Alaska, and radiocarbon dating of grave goods and of a strand of her hair all place her back to about AD 1200.

During the 19th century, the Western Arctic suffered a population decline of close to 90%, resulting from exposure to new diseases, including tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

, measles
Measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

, influenza
Influenza
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae , that affects birds and mammals...

, and smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

. Autopsies near Greenland reveal that, more commonly pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

, kidney diseases
Nephrology
Nephrology is a branch of internal medicine and pediatrics dealing with the study of the function and diseases of the kidney.-Scope of the specialty:...

, trichinosis
Trichinosis
Trichinosis, also called trichinellosis, or trichiniasis, is a parasitic disease caused by eating raw or undercooked pork or wild game infected with the larvae of a species of roundworm Trichinella spiralis, commonly called the trichina worm. There are eight Trichinella species; five are...

, malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

, and degenerative disorders
Degenerative disease
A degenerative disease, also called neurodegenerative disease, is a disease in which the function or structure of the affected tissues or organs will progressively deteriorate over time, whether due to normal bodily wear or lifestyle choices such as exercise or eating habits...

 may have contributed to mass deaths among different Inuit tribes. The Inuit believed that the causes of the disease were of a spiritual origin.

Traditional law


Inuit traditional laws are anthropologically different from Western law
Western law
Western law refers to the legal traditions of Western culture. Western culture has an idea of the importance of law which has its roots in both Roman law and the Bible...

 concepts. Customary law
Custom (law)
Custom in law is the established pattern of behavior that can be objectively verified within a particular social setting. A claim can be carried out in defense of "what has always been done and accepted by law." Customary law exists where:...

 was thought non-existent in Inuit society before the introduction of the Canadian legal system
Law of Canada
The Canadian legal system has its foundation in the British common law system, inherited from being a former colony of the United Kingdom and later a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Quebec, however, still retains a civil system for issues of private law...

. Hoebel
E. Adamson Hoebel
E. Adamson Hoebel was Regents Professor Emeritus of anthropology at the University of Minnesota. He held a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University, where he also attended the seminars of Karl N. Llewellyn, who taught at the Columbia Law School from 1925-1951...

, in 1954, concluded that only 'rudimentary law' existed amongst the Inuit. Indeed, prior to about 1970, it is impossible to find even one reference to a Western observer who was aware that any form of governance existed among any Inuit, however, there was a set way of doing things that had to be followed:
  • maligait refers to what has to be followed
  • piqujait refers to what has to be done
  • tirigusuusiit refers to what has to be avoided


If an individual's actions went against the tirigusuusiit, maligait or piqujait, the angakkuq (shaman) might have to intervene, lest the consequences be dire to the individual or the community.

Traditional beliefs




The environment in which the Inuit lived inspired a mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 filled with adventure tales of whale and walrus hunts. Long winter months of waiting for caribou herds or sitting near breathing holes hunting seals gave birth to stories of mysterious and sudden appearance of ghosts and fantastic creatures. Some Inuit looked into the aurora borealis
Aurora (astronomy)
An aurora is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere...

, or northern lights, to find images of their family and friends dancing in the next life. However, some Inuit believed that the lights were more sinister and if you whistle
Whistling
Human whistling is the production of sound by means of carefully controlling a stream of air flowing through a small hole. Whistling can be achieved by creating a small opening with one's lips and then blowing or sucking air through the hole...

d at them, they would come down and cut off your head. This tale is still told to children today. For others they were invisible giants, the souls of animals, a guide to hunting and as a spirit for the angakkuq to help with healing. They relied upon the angakkuq (shaman) for spiritual interpretation. The nearest thing to a central deity was the Old Woman (Sedna
Sedna (mythology)
In Inuit mythology, Sedna is the goddess of the sea and marine animals such as seals. A creation myth, the story of Sedna shows how she came to rule over Adlivun, the Inuit underworld...

), who lived beneath the sea. The waters, a central food source, were believed to contain great gods.

The Inuit practised a form of shamanism based on animist
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

 principles. They believed that all things had a form of spirit, including humans, and that to some extent these spirits could be influenced by a pantheon
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

 of supernatural entities that could be appeased when one required some animal or inanimate thing to act in a certain way. The angakkuq of a community of Inuit was not the leader, but rather a sort of healer and psychotherapist
Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a general term referring to any form of therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a trained professional and a client or patient; family, couple or group...

, who tended wounds and offered advice, as well as invoking the spirits to assist people in their lives. His or her role was to see, interpret and exhort the subtle and unseen. Angakkuit were not trained; they were held to be born with the ability and recognised by the community as they approached adulthood.

Inuit religion was closely tied to a system of rituals integrated into the daily life of the people. These rituals were simple but held to be necessary. According to a customary Inuit saying,
By believing that all things, including animals, have souls like those of humans, any hunt that failed to show appropriate respect and customary supplication would only give the liberated spirits cause to avenge themselves.

The harshness and unpredictability of life in the Arctic ensured that Inuit lived with concern for the uncontrollable, where a streak of bad luck could destroy an entire community. To offend a spirit was to risk its interference with an already marginal existence. The Inuit understood that they had to work in harmony with supernatural powers to provide the necessities of day-to-day life. Before the 1940s, Inuit had minimal contact with Europeans, who passed through on their way to hunt whales or trade furs
Fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued...

 but seldom had any interest in settling down on the frozen land of the Arctic. So the Inuit had the place to themselves. They moved between summer and winter camps to always be living where there were animals to hunt.

But that changed. As World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 ended and the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 began, the Arctic became a place where countries that did not get along were close to each other. The Arctic had always been seen as inaccessible, but the invention of aircraft made it easier for non-Arctic dwellers to get there. As new airbases and radar stations
Distant Early Warning Line
The Distant Early Warning Line, also known as the DEW Line or Early Warning Line, was a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic region of Canada, with additional stations along the North Coast and Aleutian Islands of Alaska, in addition to the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland...

 were built in the Arctic to monitor rival nations, permanent settlements were developed around them, including schools and health care centres. In many places, Inuit children were required to attend schools that emphasised non-native traditions. With better health care, the Inuit population grew too large to sustain itself solely by hunting. Many Inuit from smaller camps moved into permanent settlements because there was access to jobs and food. In many areas Inuit were required to live in towns by the 1960s.

Early contact with Europeans


The lives of Paleo-Eskimos of the far north were largely unaffected by the arrival of visiting Norsemen except for mutual trade. Labrador Inuit have had the longest continuous contact with Europeans. After the disappearance of the Norse colonies in Greenland
Norse colonization of the Americas
The Norse colonization of the Americas began as early as the 10th century, when Norse sailors explored and settled areas of the North Atlantic, including the northeastern fringes of North America....

, the Inuit had no contact with Europeans for at least a century. By the mid-16th century, Basque
Basque people
The Basques as an ethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country , a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.The Basques are known in the...

 whalers and fishermen were already working the Labrador coast and had established whaling stations on land, such as the one that has been excavated at Red Bay
Red Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador
Red Bay is a fishing village and former site of several Basque whaling stations on the southern coast of Labrador in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Between 1550 and the early 17th century, Red Bay was a major Basque whaling area. The site is home to three Basque whaling galleons...

. The Inuit appear not to have interfered with their operations, but they raided the stations in winter for tools and items made of worked iron, which they adapted to their own needs.

Martin Frobisher
Martin Frobisher
Sir Martin Frobisher was an English seaman who made three voyages to the New World to look for the Northwest Passage...

's 1576 search for the Northwest Passage
Northwest Passage
The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans...

 was the first well-documented post-Columbian
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 contact between Europeans and Inuit. Frobisher's expedition landed in Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay is a relatively large inlet of the Labrador Sea in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the southeastern corner of Baffin Island...

, Baffin Island, not far from the settlement now called The City of Iqaluit which was long known as Frobisher Bay. Frobisher encountered Inuit on Resolution Island
Resolution Island (Nunavut)
Resolution Island is one of the many uninhabited Canadian Arctic islands in Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut. It is a Baffin Island offshore island located in Hudson Strait. It has an area of...

 where five sailors left the ship, under orders from Frobisher, and became part of Inuit mythology. The homesick sailors, tired of their adventure, attempted to leave in a small vessel and vanished. Frobisher brought an unwilling Inuk to England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, doubtless the first Inuk ever to visit Europe. The Inuit oral tradition, in contrast, recounts the natives helping Frobisher's crewmen, whom they believed had been abandoned.

The semi-nomadic eco-centred Inuit were fishers and hunters harvesting lakes, seas, ice platforms and tundra
Tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

. While there are some allegations that Inuit were hostile to early French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and English explorers, fishers and whalers, more recent research suggests that the early relations with whaling stations along the Labrador coast and later James Bay
James Bay
James Bay is a large body of water on the southern end of Hudson Bay in Canada. Both bodies of water extend from the Arctic Ocean. James Bay borders the provinces of Quebec and Ontario; islands within the bay are part of Nunavut...

 were based on a mutual interest in trade. In the final years of the 18th century, the Moravian Church began missionary activities in Labrador, supported by the British who were tired of the raids on their whaling stations. The Moravian missionaries could easily provide the Inuit with the iron and basic materials they had been stealing from whaling outposts, materials whose real cost to Europeans was almost nothing, but whose value to the Inuit was enormous and from then on contacts in Labrador were far more peaceful.

The European arrival tremendously damaged the Inuit way of life, causing mass death through new diseases introduced by whalers and explorers, and enormous social disruptions caused by the distorting effect of Europeans' material wealth. Nonetheless, Inuit society in the higher latitudes had largely remained in isolation during the 19th century. The Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 opened trading post
Trading post
A trading post was a place or establishment in historic Northern America where the trading of goods took place. The preferred travel route to a trading post or between trading posts, was known as a trade route....

s such as Great Whale River (1820), today the site of the twin villages of Whapmagoostui
Whapmagoostui, Quebec
Whapmagoostui |beluga]]") is the northernmost Cree village in Quebec, located at the mouth of the Great Whale River on the coast of Hudson Bay in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada. About 500 people, mostly Inuit, live in the neighbouring northern village of Kuujjuarapik. The community is only accessible by...

 and Kuujjuarapik
Kuujjuarapik, Quebec
Kuujjuarapik is the southernmost Inuit village at the mouth of the Great Whale River on the coast of Hudson Bay in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada. About 800 people, mostly Cree, live in the adjacent village of Whapmagoostui. The community is only accessible by air and, in late summer, by boat...

, where whale products of the commercial whale hunt were processed and furs traded. The British Naval Expedition of 1821–3 led by Admiral William Edward Parry
William Edward Parry
Sir William Edward Parry was an English rear-admiral and Arctic explorer, who in 1827 attempted one of the earliest expeditions to the North Pole...

, which twice over-wintered in Foxe Basin
Foxe Basin
Not to be confused with Fox Bay, Falkland IslandsFoxe Basin is a shallow oceanic basin north of Hudson Bay, in Nunavut, Canada, located between Baffin Island and the Melville Peninsula...

, provided the first informed, sympathetic and well-documented account of the economic, social and religious life of the Inuit. Parry stayed in what is now Igloolik over the second winter. Parry's writings, with pen and ink illustrations of Inuit everyday life, and those of George Francis Lyon
George Francis Lyon
George Francis Lyon was a rare combination of Arctic and African explorer. By all accounts a fun loving extrovert, he also managed to be a competent British Naval Officer, Commander, explorer, artist and socialite...

, both published in 1824 were widely read. Captain George Comer
George Comer
Captain George Comer was considered the most famous American whaling captain of Hudson Bay, and the world's foremost authority on Hudson Bay Inuit in the early 20th century....

's Inuit wife Shoofly, known for her sewing skills and elegant attire, was influential in convincing him to acquire more sewing accessories and beads for trade with Inuit.

Early 20th century


During the early 20th century a few traders and missionaries circulated among the more accessible bands, and after 1904 they were accompanied by a handful of Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police , literally ‘Royal Gendarmerie of Canada’; colloquially known as The Mounties, and internally as ‘The Force’) is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal,...

 (RCMP). Unlike most Aboriginal peoples in Canada, however, the lands occupied by the Inuit were of little interest to European settlers — to the southerners, the homeland of the Inuit was a hostile hinterland
Hinterland
The hinterland is the land or district behind a coast or the shoreline of a river. Specifically, by the doctrine of the hinterland, the word is applied to the inland region lying behind a port, claimed by the state that owns the coast. The area from which products are delivered to a port for...

. Southerners enjoyed lucrative careers as bureaucrats and service providers to the north, but very few ever chose to visit there. Canada, with its more hospitable lands largely settled, began to take a greater interest in its more peripheral territories, especially the fur and mineral-rich hinterlands. By the late 1920s, there were no longer any Inuit who had not been contacted by traders, missionaries or government agents. In 1939, the Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

 found, in a decision known as Re Eskimos
Re Eskimos
Re Eskimos [1939] S.C.R. 104, is a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the constitutional status of Canada's Inuit people, then called "Eskimos." The case concerned section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, then the British North America Act, 1867, which assigns jurisdiction over...

, that the Inuit should be considered Indians and were thus under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Native customs were worn down by the actions of the RCMP, who enforced Canadian criminal law on Inuit, such as Kikkik
Kikkik
Kikkik was an Inuit woman who, in 1958, was charged with but acquitted of murder, child neglect and causing the death of one of her children. Her story was told by Farley Mowat.- Relocation :...

, who often could not understand what they had done wrong, and by missionaries who preached a moral code
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

 very different from the one they were used to. Many of the Inuit were systematically converted to Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries, through rituals like the Siqqitiq
Siqqitiq
Siqqitiq is the ritual of converting Inuit with shamanist beliefs to Christianity. This is usually accompanied by ritualistic consumption of foods held taboo by shamanist belief , to underscore the fact that such taboos no longer apply...

.

Second World War to the 1960s


World War II and the Cold War made Arctic Canada strategically important for the first time and, thanks to the development of modern aircraft, accessible year-round. The construction of air bases and the Distant Early Warning Line
Distant Early Warning Line
The Distant Early Warning Line, also known as the DEW Line or Early Warning Line, was a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic region of Canada, with additional stations along the North Coast and Aleutian Islands of Alaska, in addition to the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland...

 in the 1940s and 1950s brought more intensive contacts with European society, particularly in the form of public education, which traditionalists complained instilled foreign values disdainful of the traditional structure of Inuit society.

In the 1950s the High Arctic relocation
High Arctic relocation
The High Arctic relocation took place during the Cold War in the 1950s, when 87 Inuit were moved by the Government of Canada to the High Arctic....

 was undertaken by the Government of Canada
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada, formally Her Majesty's Government, is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council...

 for several reasons. These were to include protecting Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic
Territorial claims in the Arctic
Under international law, no country currently owns the North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. The five surrounding Arctic states, Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark , are limited to an exclusive economic zone of adjacent to their coasts.Upon ratification...

, alleviating hunger (as the area currently occupied had been over-hunted), and attempting to solve the "Eskimo problem", meaning the assimilation and end of the Inuit culture. One of the more notable relocation's was undertaken in 1953, when 17 families were moved from Port Harrison
Inukjuak, Quebec
Inukjuak , alternatively spelled Inoucdjouac, former name and current postal name Port Harrison, is an Inuit settlement located on Hudson Bay at the mouth of the Innuksuak River in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, Canada. Its population is 1,294...

 (now Inukjuak, Quebec) to Resolute
Resolute, Nunavut
Resolute or Resolute Bay is a small Inuit hamlet on Cornwallis Island in Nunavut, Canada. It is situated at the northern end of Resolute Bay and the Northwest Passage and is part of the Qikiqtaaluk Region....

 and Grise Fiord
Grise Fiord, Nunavut
Grise Fiord, is a small Inuit hamlet in the Qikiqtaaluk Region in the territory of Nunavut, Canada. Despite its low population , it is the largest community on Ellesmere Island...

. They were dropped off in early September when winter had already arrived. The land they were sent to was very different from that in the Inukjuak area; it was barren, with only a couple of months when the temperature rose above freezing and several months of polar night
Polar night
The polar night occurs when the night lasts for more than 24 hours. This occurs only inside the polar circles. The opposite phenomenon, the polar day, or midnight sun, occurs when the sun stays above the horizon for more than 24 hours.-Description:...

. The families were told by the RCMP they would be able to return within two years if conditions were not right. However, two years later more families were relocated to the High Arctic and it was to be thirty years before they were able to visit Inukjuak.

By 1953, Canada's prime minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 Louis St. Laurent
Louis St. Laurent
Louis Stephen St. Laurent, PC, CC, QC , was the 12th Prime Minister of Canada from 15 November 1948, to 21 June 1957....

 publicly admitted, "Apparently we have administered the vast territories of the north in an almost continuing absence of mind." The government began to establish about forty permanent administrative centres to provide education, health and economic development services. Inuit from hundreds of smaller camps scattered across the north, began to congregate in these hamlets.

Regular visits from doctors, and access to modern medical care raised the birth rate
Birth rate
Crude birth rate is the nativity or childbirths per 1,000 people per year . Another word used interchangeably with "birth rate" is "natality". When the crude birth rate is subtracted from the crude death rate, it reveals the rate of natural increase...

 and decreased the death rate
Mortality rate
Mortality rate is a measure of the number of deaths in a population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit time...

, causing an enormous natural increase
Demographic transition
The demographic transition model is the transition from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates as a country develops from a pre-industrial to an industrialized economic system. The theory is based on an interpretation of demographic history developed in 1929 by the American...

. Before long, the Inuit population
Population growth
Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement....

 was beyond the carrying capacity of the ecosystem (that which hunting and fishing could support). By the mid-1960s, encouraged first by missionaries, then by the prospect of paid jobs and government services, and finally forced by hunger and required by police, all Canadian Inuit lived year-round in permanent settlements. The nomadic migrations that were the central feature of Arctic life had for the most part disappeared. The Inuit, a once self-sufficient people in an extremely harsh environment were, in the span of perhaps two generations, transformed into a small, impoverished minority, lacking skills or resources to sell to the larger economy, but increasingly dependent on it for survival.

Although anthropologists like Diamond Jenness
Diamond Jenness
Diamond Jenness, CC was one of Canada's greatest early scientists and a pioneer of Canadian anthropology.-Biography:...

 (1964) were quick to predict that Inuit culture was facing extinction, Inuit political activism was already emerging.

Rejuvenation of culture


In the 1960s, the Canadian government funded the establishment of secular
Secularity
Secularity is the state of being separate from religion.For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them...

, government-operated high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

s in the Northwest Territories (including what is now Nunavut) and Inuit areas in Quebec and Labrador along with the residential school system. The Inuit population was not large enough to support a full high school in every community, so this meant only a few schools were built, and students from across the territories were boarded there. These schools, in Aklavik
Aklavik, Northwest Territories
Aklavik is a hamlet located in the Inuvik Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. Until 1961, the community served as the regional administrative centre for the territorial government...

, Iqaluit, Yellowknife, Inuvik
Inuvik, Northwest Territories
Inuvik is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada and is the administrative centre for the Inuvik Region.The population as of the 2006 Census was 3,484, but the two previous census counts show wide fluctuations due to economic conditions: 2,894 in 2001 and 3,296 in 1996...

 and Kuujjuaq
Kuujjuaq, Quebec
Kuujjuaq is the largest Inuit village in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada with a population of 2,132 as of the 2006 census. This is up roughly 10% from 1,932 as of the 2001 Census. It is the administrative capital of Nunavik and lies on the western shore of the Koksoak River.Kuujjuaq previously was known...

, brought together young Inuit from across the Arctic in one place for the first time, and exposed them to the rhetoric of civil and human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 that prevailed in Canada in the 1960s. This was a real wake-up call for the Inuit, and it stimulated the emergence of a new generation of young Inuit activists in the late 1960s who came forward and pushed for respect for the Inuit and their territories.

The Inuit began to emerge as a political force in the late 1960s and early 1970s, shortly after the first graduates returned home. They formed new politically active associations in the early 1970s, starting with the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is a nonprofit organization in Canada that represents over 50,400 Inuit. It was founded in 1971 by Tagak Curley as the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada...

 (Inuit Brotherhood and today known as Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami), an outgrowth of the Indian and Eskimo Association of the 60s, in 1971, and more region specific organisations shortly afterwards, including the Committee for the Original People's Entitlement (representing the Inuvialuit), the Northern Quebec Inuit Association (Makivik Corporation
Makivik Corporation
The Makivik Corporation is the legal representative of Quebec's Inuit people, established in 1978 under the terms of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the agreement that established the institutions of Nunavik...

) and the Labrador Inuit Association (LIA) representing Northern Labrador Inuit. Since the mid-1980s the Southern Labrador Inuit of Nunatukavut
Nunatukavut
Nunatuĸavut or NunatuKavut means "Our ancient land" in the ancestral Inuktitut dialect of the NunatuKavummuit people. The Inuit region encompasses Southern Labrador, from the Churchill River, South to Lodge Bay and West to the extent of the official border between Quebec and Labrador...

 began organizing politically after being geographically cut out of the LIA, however, for political expediency the orgnaization was erroneously called the Labrador Métis Nation. NunatuKavummuit are Inuit. These various activist movements began to change the direction of Inuit society in 1975 with the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement
James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement
The James Bay And Northern Quebec Agreement was an Aboriginal land claim settlement, approved in 1975 by the Cree and Inuit of northern Quebec, and later slightly modified in 1978 by the Northeastern Quebec Agreement, through which Quebec's Naskapi First Nations joined the treaty...

. This comprehensive land claims settlement for Quebec Inuit, along with a large cash settlement and substantial administrative autonomy in the new region of Nunavik, set the precedent for the settlements to follow. The northern Labrador Inuit submitted their land claim in 1977, although they had to wait until 2005 to have a signed land settlement establishing Nunatsiavut
Nunatsiavut
Nunatsiavut is an autonomous area claimed by the Inuit in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The settlement area includes territory in Labrador extending to the Quebec border. In 2002, the Labrador Inuit Association submitted a proposal for limited autonomy to the government of Newfoundland and...

. Southern Labrador Inuit of Nunatukavut
Nunatukavut
Nunatuĸavut or NunatuKavut means "Our ancient land" in the ancestral Inuktitut dialect of the NunatuKavummuit people. The Inuit region encompasses Southern Labrador, from the Churchill River, South to Lodge Bay and West to the extent of the official border between Quebec and Labrador...

 are currently in the process of establishing landclaims and title rights that would allow them to negotiate with the Newfoundland Government.

In 1982, the Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut
Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut
The Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut was the organization officially recognized from 1982 to 1993 as representing the Inuit of what is now Nunavut, but was then part of the Northwest Territories, for the purpose of negotiating treaties and land claims settlements...

 (TFN) was incorporated, in order to take over negotiations for land claims on behalf of the Inuit living in the eastern Northwest Territories, that would later become Nunavut, from the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which became a joint association of the Inuit of Quebec, Labrador and the Northwest Territories.

Land claims settlements


The Inuvialuit
Inuvialuit
The Inuvialuit or Western Canadian Inuit are Inuit people who live in the western Canadian Arctic region. They, like all other Inuit, are descendants of the Thule who migrated eastward from Alaska...

 are western Canadian Inuit who remained in the Northwest Territories when Nunavut split off. They live primarily in the Mackenzie River delta, on Banks Island
Banks Island
One of the larger members of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Banks Island is situated in the Inuvik Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. It is separated from Victoria Island to its east by the Prince of Wales Strait and from the mainland by Amundsen Gulf to its south. The Beaufort Sea lies...

, and parts of Victoria Island in the Northwest Territories. They are officially represented by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and, in 1984, received a comprehensive land claims settlement, the first in Northern Canada, with the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

The TFN worked for ten years and, in September 1992, came to a final agreement with the Government of Canada. This agreement called for the separation of the Northwest Territories into an eastern territory whose aboriginal population would be predominately Inuit, the future Nunavut, and a rump Northwest Territories in the west. It was the largest land claims agreement in Canadian history. In November 1992, the Nunavut Final Agreement was approved by nearly 85% of the Inuit of what would become Nunavut. As the final step in this long process, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement
The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement is a 1993 land claims agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area and the Government of Canada subject to the Constitution Act of 1982...

was signed on May 25, 1993, in Iqaluit by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Brian Mulroney
Martin Brian Mulroney, was the 18th Prime Minister of Canada from September 17, 1984, to June 25, 1993 and was leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1983 to 1993. His tenure as Prime Minister was marked by the introduction of major economic reforms, such as the Canada-U.S...

 and by Paul Quassa, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated is the legal representative of the Inuit of Nunavut for the purposes of native treaty rights and treaty negotiation and one of the four regional members that make up the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami...

, which replaced the TFN with the ratification of the Nunavut Final Agreement. The Canadian Parliament
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

 passed the supporting legislation in June of the same year, enabling the 1999 establishment of Nunavut as a territorial entity.

With the establishment of Nunatsiavut in 2005, almost all the traditional Inuit lands in Canada, with the exception NunatuKavut in central and South Labrador, are now covered by some sort of land claims agreement providing for regional autonomy.

Inuit cabinet members


On October 30, 2008, Leona Aglukkaq
Leona Aglukkaq
Leona Aglukkaq, PC, MP is a Canadian politician, who was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Conservative in the 2008 Canadian federal election for the riding of Nunavut....

 was appointed as Minister of Health
Minister of Health (Canada)
The Minister of Health is the Minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet who is responsible for overseeing the federal government's health department and the enforcing the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canada Health Act, the law governing Medicare...

, "[becoming] the first Inuk to hold a senior cabinet position, although she is not the first Inuk to be in cabinet altogether." Jack Anawak
Jack Anawak
Jack Iyerak Anawak is a Canadian politician. He represented the electoral district of Nunatsiaq in the Canadian House of Commons from 1988 to 1997. He sat in the house as a member of the Liberal Party of Canada...

 and Nancy Karetak-Lindell
Nancy Karetak-Lindell
Nancy Karetak-Lindell is a former Canadian politician. Previously she was a financial comptroller and municipal councillor in Arviat, Karetak-Lindell ran for a seat in the Canadian House of Commons as a Liberal candidate in the 1997 federal election in the riding of Nunavut...

 were both parliamentary secretaries
Parliamentary Secretary
A Parliamentary Secretary is a member of a Parliament in the Westminster system who assists a more senior minister with his or her duties.In the parliamentary systems of several Commonwealth countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, it is customary for the prime minister to...

 respectively from 1993–96 and in 2003.

Greenland



The Thule people arrived in Greenland in the 13th century. There they encountered the Norsemen, who had established colonies there since the late 10th century, as well as a later wave of the Dorset people. Because most of Greenland is covered in ice, the Greenland Inuit (or Kalaallit) only live in coastal settlements, particularly the northern polar coast, the eastern Amassalik coast and the central coasts of western Greenland. In 1953, Denmark put an end to the colonial status of Greenland and granted home rule
Home rule
Home rule is the power of a constituent part of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been devolved to it by the central government....

 in 1979 and in 2008 a self-government referendum
Greenlandic self-government referendum, 2008
A non-binding referendum on Greenland's autonomy was held on 25 November 2008. It was passed with 75% approval and a 72% turnout. The referendum was announced by Prime Minister Hans Enoksen on 2 January 2008. Enoksen also announced the launch of an information and discussion campaign on the issue...

 was passed with 75% approval. Although a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland, known as Kalaallit Nunaat, maintains much autonomy today. Of a population of 55,000, 80% of Greenlanders identify as Inuit. Their economy is based on fishing and shrimping
Shrimp fishery
A shrimp fishery is a fishery directed toward harvesting either shrimp or prawns. .-Commercial shrimping:...

.

Alaska



The Inuit of Alaska are the Inupiat (from Inuit- people – and piaq/piat real, i.e. 'real people') who live in the Northwest Arctic Borough
Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska
-National protected areas:* Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge ** Chamisso Wilderness* Bering Land Bridge National Preserve * Cape Krusenstern National Monument* Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve...

, the North Slope Borough
North Slope Borough, Alaska
-National protected areas:* Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge ** Cape Lisburne** Cape Thompson* Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ** Mollie Beattie Wilderness * Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve...

 and the Bering Strait
Bering Strait
The Bering Strait , known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point of the North American continent, with latitude of about 65°40'N,...

s region. Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States
Extreme points of the United States
This is a list of the extreme points of the United States, the points that are farther north, south, east, or west than any other location in the country. Also included are extreme points in elevation, extreme distances, and other points of peculiar geographic interest.-Northernmost:*Point Barrow,...

, is in the Inupiat region. Their language is Iñupiaq
Inupiaq language
The Inupiat language, also known as Inupiatun, Inupiaq, Iñupiaq, Inyupiaq, Inyupiat, Inyupeat, Inyupik, and Inupik, is a group of dialects of the Inuit language, spoken in northern and northwestern Alaska. The Iñupiaq language is a member of the Eskimo languages group. There are roughly 2,100...

 (which is the singular form of Inupiat).

International issues


In recent years, circumpolar cultural and political groups like the Inuit Circumpolar Council have come together to promote the Inuit and other northern people and to fight against ecological
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

 problems, such as climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

, which will disproportionately affect the Inuit population. The Inuit Circumpolar Council is one of the six group of Arctic indigenous peoples that have a seat as a so-called "Permanent Participant" on the Arctic Council
Arctic Council
The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum which addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic.- History of the Arctic Council :...

, an international high level forum in which the eight Arctic Countries (US, Canada, Russia and the 5 Scandinavian countries) discuss Arctic policy. On 12 May 2011, Greenland's Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist
Kuupik Kleist
Jakob Edvard Kuupik Kleist is a Socialist and Left-wing Greenlandic politician. He became the fifth Prime Minister of Greenland in 2009, the first from the Inuit Ataqatigiit political party....

 hosted the ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council, an event for which the American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to Nuuk, as did many other high ranking officials such as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt
Carl Bildt
, Honorary KCMG is a Swedish politician, diplomat and nobleman. Formerly Prime Minister of Sweden from 1991 to 1994 and leader of the liberal conservative Moderate Party from 1986 to 1999, Bildt has served as Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs since 6 October 2006...

 and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre
Jonas Gahr Støre
Jonas Gahr Støre is the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, having been appointed to Jens Stoltenberg's second cabinet on 17 October 2005. He represents the Norwegian Labour Party.-Personal life:...

. At that event they signed the Nuuk Decaration.

Modern culture


Inuit communities in Canada continue to suffer from unemployment
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

, substance abuse
Substance abuse
A substance-related disorder is an umbrella term used to describe several different conditions associated with several different substances .A substance related disorder is a condition in which an individual uses or abuses a...

, crime, violence and suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

. Inuit art
Inuit art
Inuit art refers to artwork produced by Inuit people, that is, the people of the Arctic previously known as Eskimos, a term that is now often considered offensive outside Alaska...

s, carving, print making, textiles and throat singing
Inuit throat singing
Inuit throat singing or katajjaq, also known as the generic term overtone singing, is a form of musical performance uniquely found among the Inuit...

, are very popular, not only in Canada but globally, and Inuit artists are widely known. Canada has adopted some of the Inuit culture as national symbols using Inuit cultural icons like the inukshuk in unlikely places, such as its use as a symbol at the 2010 Winter Olympics
2010 Winter Olympics
The 2010 Winter Olympics, officially the XXI Olympic Winter Games or the 21st Winter Olympics, were a major international multi-sport event held from February 12–28, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with some events held in the suburbs of Richmond, West Vancouver and the University...

 in Vancouver. Respected art galleries display Inuit art, the largest collection of which is at the Winnipeg Art Gallery
Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a public art gallery that was founded in 1912. It is Western Canada's oldest civic gallery and the 6th largest in the country...

.

Some Inuit languages such as Inuktitut, appears to have a more secure future in Quebec and Nunavut. There are a surprising number of Inuit, even those who now live in urban centres such as Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 and Winnipeg
Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region, with more than half of Manitoba's population. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers .The name...

, who have experienced living on the land in the traditional life style. People such as Legislative Assembly of Nunavut
Legislative Assembly of Nunavut
The Legislative Assembly of Nunavut, Canada, is located in Iqaluit, and is the territory's parliament.The Legislative Assembly of Nunavut was opened by Queen Elizabeth II, as Queen of Canada, on 7 October 2002, during her Golden Jubilee tour of Canada...

 member, Levinia Brown
Levinia Brown
Levinia Brown is a Canadian politician, who served as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the electoral district of Rankin Inlet South/Whale Cove in the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut from 2004 to 2008...

 and former Commissioner of Nunavut
Commissioners of Nunavut
This is a list of the Commissioners of Nunavut, Canada, since its creation in 1999. As of 12 May 2010, the commissioner is Edna Elias.-History:The position of Commissioner was created in 1999 with the creation of the new territory...

 and the NWT
Commissioners of Northwest Territories
The Commissioner of the Northwest Territories is the Canadian federal government’s representative in Northwest Territories and the territory's Chief Executive Officer...

, Helen Maksagak
Helen Maksagak
Helen Mamayaok Maksagak, CM was a Canadian politician. She served as the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories from January 16, 1995 until March 26, 1999 and as the Commissioner of Nunavut from April 1, 1999 until April 1, 2000...

 were born and lived the early part of their life "on the land". Inuit culture is alive and vibrant today in spite of the negative impacts of recent history.

An important biennial event, the Arctic Winter Games
Arctic Winter Games
The Arctic Winter Games is an international biennial celebration of circumpolar sports and culture.-Background:The Arctic Winter Games were founded in 1969 under the leadership of Governor Walter J. Hickel of Alaska, Stuart M. Hodgson, Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, and Yukon...

, is held in communities across the northern regions of the world, featuring traditional Inuit and northern sports as part of the events. A cultural event is also held. The games were first held in 1970, and while rotated usually among Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, they have also been held in Schefferville, Quebec
Schefferville, Quebec
Schefferville is a town in the Canadian province of Quebec. Schefferville is in the heart of the Naskapi and Innu territory in northern Quebec, less than 2 km from the border with Labrador on the north shore of Knob Lake. The town has an incorporated area of . It is located within the...

 in 1976, in Slave Lake
Slave Lake, Alberta
Slave Lake is a town in northern Alberta, Canada, in the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River No. 124. It is located on the southeast shore of Lesser Slave Lake at the junction of Highway 2 and Highway 88....

, Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, and a joint Iqaluit, Nunavut-Nuuk
Nuuk
Nuuk, is the capital of Greenland, the northernmost capital in North America and the largest city in Greenland. Located in the Nuup Kangerlua fjord, the city lies on the eastern shore of the Labrador Sea and on the west coast of Sermersooq. Nuuk is the largest cultural and economic center in...

, Greenland staging in 2002. In other sporting events, Jordin Tootoo
Jordin Tootoo
Jordin John Kudluk Tootoo is a Canadian professional ice hockey player with the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League . He is both the first Inuk player and the first player who grew up in Nunavut to participate in an NHL game....

 became the first Inuk to play in the National Hockey League
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States...

 in the 2003–04 season, playing for the Nashville Predators
Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators are a professional ice hockey team based in Nashville, Tennessee. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...

.

Although Inuit life has changed significantly over the past century, many traditions continue. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is an Inuktitut phrase that is often translated as Inuit traditional knowledge, Inuit traditional institutions or even Inuit traditional technology...

, or traditional knowledge, such as storytelling, mythology, music
Inuit music
Traditional Inuit music, the music of the Inuit, has been based around drums used in dance music as far back as can be known, and a vocal style called katajjaq has become of interest in Canada and abroad....

 and dancing remain important parts of the culture. Family and community are very important. The Inuktitut language is still spoken in many areas of the Arctic and is common on radio and in television programming.

Well-known Inuit politicians include Premier of Nunavut
Premier of Nunavut
The Premier of Nunavut is the first minister for the Canadian territory of Nunavut. They are the territory's head of government and de facto chief executive, although their powers are considerably smaller than that of a provincial premier....

, Eva Aariak, Nancy Karetak-Lindell, former MP for the riding of Nunavut
Nunavut (electoral district)
Nunavut is a federal electoral district in Nunavut, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons since 1997. Nunatsiaq, its predecessor that covered the same area, was a federal electoral district in Northwest Territories, that was represented in the House of Commons from 1979...

, Kuupik Kleist
Kuupik Kleist
Jakob Edvard Kuupik Kleist is a Socialist and Left-wing Greenlandic politician. He became the fifth Prime Minister of Greenland in 2009, the first from the Inuit Ataqatigiit political party....

, Prime Minister of Greenland, and Leona Aglukkaq, current MP and Canadian Federal Health Minister since 2008.

Visual and performing arts are strong. In 2002 the first feature film
Feature film
In the film industry, a feature film is a film production made for initial distribution in theaters and being the main attraction of the screening, rather than a short film screened before it; a full length movie...

 in Inuktitut, Atanarjuat
Atanarjuat
Atanarjuat is a 2001 Canadian film directed by Zacharias Kunuk. It was the first feature film ever to be written, directed and acted entirely in Inuktitut...

, was released worldwide to great critical and popular acclaim. It was directed by Zacharias Kunuk
Zacharias Kunuk
Zacharias Kunuk, is a Canadian Inuk producer and director most notable for his film Atanarjuat, the first Canadian dramatic feature film produced completely in Inuktitut...

, and written, filmed, produced, directed, and acted almost entirely by the Inuit of Igloolik. In 2009 the film, Le Voyage D'Inuk
Le Voyage D'Inuk
Le Voyage d'Inuk is a Greenlandic language feature film directed by Mike Magidson and co-written by Magidson and anthropologist Jean-Michel Huctin. It is Magidson's first feature film...

, a Greenlandic language feature film directed
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

 by Mike Magidson and co-written by Magidson and French film producer
Film producer
A film producer oversees and delivers a film project to all relevant parties while preserving the integrity, voice and vision of the film. They will also often take on some financial risk by using their own money, especially during the pre-production period, before a film is fully financed.The...

 Jean-Michel Huctin. One of the most famous Inuit artists is Pitseolak Ashoona. Susan Aglukark
Susan Aglukark
Susan Aglukark, OC , is an Inuk musician whose blend of Inuit folk music traditions with country and pop songwriting has made her a major recording star in Canada. Her most successful single is "O Siem", which reached #1 on the Canadian country and adult contemporary charts in 1995...

 is a popular singer. Mitiarjuk Attasie Nappaaluk works at preserving Inuktitut and has written the first novel published in that language. In 2006, Cape Dorset
Cape Dorset, Nunavut
Cape Dorset is an Inuit hamlet located on Dorset Island near Foxe Peninsula at the southern tip of Baffin Island in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada...

 was hailed as Canada's most artistic city, with 23% of the labour force employed in the arts. Inuit art such as soapstone carvings is one of Nunavut's most important industries.

Recently, there has been an identity struggle among the younger generations of Inuit, between their traditional heritage and the modern society which their cultures have been forced to assimilate into in order to maintain a livelihood. With current dependence on modern society for necessities, (including governmental jobs, food, aid, medicine, etc.), the Inuit have had much interaction with and exposure to the societal norms
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

 outside their previous cultural boundaries. The stressors regarding the identity crisis
Identity crisis (psychology)
"Identity crisis is the failure to achieve ego identity during adolescence." The term was coined by the psychologist Erik Erikson. The stage of psychosocial development in which identity crisis may occur is called the Identity Cohesion versus Role Confusion stage...

 among teenagers have led to disturbingly high numbers of suicide.

A series of authors has focused upon the increasing myopia
Myopia
Myopia , "shortsightedness" ) is a refractive defect of the eye in which collimated light produces image focus in front of the retina under conditions of accommodation. In simpler terms, myopia is a condition of the eye where the light that comes in does not directly focus on the retina but in...

 in the youngest generations of Inuit. Myopia was almost unknown prior to the Inuit adoption of western culture
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

. This phenomenon is also seen in other cultures (for example, Vanuatu
Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

). Principal theories are the change to a western style diet with more refined foods, and extended education.

See also


  • Aboriginal peoples in Northern Canada
    Aboriginal peoples in Northern Canada
    The Aboriginal peoples in Northern Canada consist of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit located in Canada's three territories: Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.-Inuit communities:* Inuvik, Northwest Territories* Paulatuk, Northwest Territories...

  • Copper Inuit
    Copper Inuit
    Copper Inuit are a Canadian Inuit group who live north of the tree line, in Nunavut's Kitikmeot Region and the Northwest Territories's Inuvik Region. Most historically lived in the area around Coronation Gulf, on Victoria Island, and southern Banks Island.Their western boundary was Wise Point,...

  • Indigenous Amerindian genetics
    Indigenous Amerindian genetics
    Genetic history of indigenous peoples of the Americas primarily focus on Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups and Human mitochondrial DNA haplogroups. Autosomal "atDNA" markers are also used, but differ from mtDNA or Y-DNA in that they overlap significantly...

  • List of American Inuit
  • List of Canadian Inuit
  • List of Greenlandic Inuit
  • Siglitun dialect
  • Suicide in Canada
    Suicide in Canada
    Approximately 3,500 suicides take place in Canada annually, slightly below deaths due to cancers of the colon and breast, and suicide is the seventh-most common cause of death among Canadian males, and tenth-highest among both sexes combined. During the 2000s, Canada ranked 34th-highest overall...


Further reading



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  • De Poncins, Gontran. Kabloona
    Kabloona
    Kabloona is a book by French adventurer Gontran de Poncins, written in collaboration with Lewis Galantiere. It was first published in the USA in 1941 as a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club , in England in 1942, and in French in 1947...

    . St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 1996 (originally 1941). ISBN 1-55597-249-7 }} }} }} }} }} (Hebrew version) }} }} }}


External links