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The main characteristics of the inuit culture

Tourism is a growing industry in the Inuit economy. Many Inuit derive part-time income from their sculpturecarving, and other crafts as well as hunting. Inuit culture is alive and vibrant despite the negative impact of their twentieth century history. Just as explorers and others have benefited from Inuit skills in the past, for example their kayaks and use of dog sleds, Inuit people continue to have much to contribute to the world wide human society.

  1. A pervasive European myth about Inuit was that they killed elderly and unproductive people; although this is not generally true. The Inuit who held the potlatch would often give away his most valuable possessions at the ceremony.
  2. Some of the Inuit dialects were recorded in the eighteenth century, but until the latter half of the twentieth century, most were not able to read and write in their own language. The majority of Inuit have always lived near the sea, hunting aquatic mammals such as seals, walrus, and whales.
  3. Today the parka style of coat is worn in other places in the world and it is made of many other materials.

Nomenclature The Inuit people live throughout most of the Canadian Arctic and subarctic: Inuit also live in Greenlandwhere they are known as Kalaallitand are citizens of Denmark. Siberian Inuit are Russian citizens. In Canada and Greenland the term " Eskimo " has fallen out of favor, is considered pejorative, and has been replaced by the term "Inuit.

In Alaska the term "Eskimo" is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiatwhile "Inuit" is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat. No universal replacement term for "Eskimo," inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik peoples, is accepted across the geographical area which they inhabit. Canadian Inuit do not consider themselves, and are not usually considered by others, to be one of the First Nations, a term which normally applies to other indigenous peoples in Canada.

  1. Goods were shared within a household, and also to a significant extent within a whole community.
  2. Intrigued to know more?
  3. By the mid-sixteenth century, Basque fishermen were already working the Labrador coast and had established whaling stations on land, such as has been excavated at Red Bay. Traditionally, women have often assumed a secondary role in Inuit society.
  4. Industry, art, and clothing Two young Inuit mothers wearing amautit women parkas with hood Nunavut Territory, Canada Inuit industry relied almost exclusively on animal hides, driftwood, and bones, although some tools were also made out of worked stones, particularly the readily-worked soapstone. Hunters while out on the land or sea ice camped in one of these iglooit for one or two nights.

Generally, Aleut and Inuit are considered separate from other Native Americans. They are more Asian in appearance, shorter and broader, and with rounder faces and lighter skin.

The Inuit should not be confused with the Innu, a distinct First Nations people who live in northeastern Quebec and Labrador. Language Inuit place names using Inuktitut syllabics and Latin alphabet The Inuit mainly speak their traditional language, Inuktitut, but they also speak English, and French. Inuktitut is mainly spoken in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and in some parts of Greenland.

  • The anorak parka is in essence made in a similar fashion by Arctic peoples from Europe through Asia and the Americas, including by the Inuit;
  • The European arrival eventually damaged the Inuit way of life, causing mass death through new diseases introduced by whalers and explorers, as well as social disruptions;
  • Several homesick sailors, tired of their adventure, attempted to leave in a small vessel and vanished.

Inuit is a term that encompasses the Indigenous peoples who live in the Arctic regions of AlaskaGreenlandand Canadaand Siberia although some prefer to be called by their own name, such as Kalaallit in Greenland and Inupiat in Alaska Inuktitut is written in several different ways, depending on the dialect and region, but also on historical and political factors. Some of the Inuit dialects were recorded in the eighteenth century, but until the latter half of the twentieth century, most were not able to read and write in their own language.

In the 1760s, Moravian missionaries arrived in Greenlandwhere they contributed to the development of a written system of language called Qaliujaaqpait, based on the Latin alphabet.

The missionaries later brought this system to Labrador, from which it eventually spread as far as Alaska. The Inuktitut syllabary used in Canada is based on the Cree syllabary devised by the missionary James Evans.

The present form of the syllabary for Canadian Inuktitut was adopted by the Inuit Cultural Institute in Canada in the 1970s. History Early history The Inuit are the descendants of what anthropologists call the Thule culture, who emerged from western Alaska around 1000 C. Inuit legends speak of the Tuniit as "giants," people who were taller and stronger than the Inuit. In Canada and Greenland the Inuit circulated almost exclusively north of the tree line, the de facto southern border of Inuit society.

The Arctic’s Inuit Culture

To the south, Native American Indian cultures were well established, and the culture and technology of Inuit society that served them so well in the Arctic was not suited to the subarctic, so they did not displace their southern neighbors. They had trade relations with more southern cultures, but boundary disputes were common.

Warfarein general, was not uncommon among Inuit groups with sufficient population density. After roughly 1350, the climate grew colder during the Little Ice Age and the Inuit were forced to abandon hunting and whaling sites in the high Arctic.


Bowhead whaling disappeared in Canada and Greenland but continued in Alaska and the Inuit had to subsist on a much poorer diet. Without whalesthey lost access to essential raw materials for tools and architecture that were derived from whaling. The changing climate forced the Inuit to look south, pressuring them into the marginal niches along the edges of the tree line that Native American Indians had not occupied, or where they were weak enough to coexist with. There is evidence that they were still moving into new territory in southern Labrador in the seventeenth century, when they first began to interact with colonial North American civilization.

Since the arrival of Europeans The first contact with Europeans came from the Vikingswho settled Greenland and explored the eastern Canadian coast. The lives of the Inuit were largely unaffected by the arrival of visiting Norsemen except for mutual trade. After the disappearance of the Norse colonies in Greenland, the Inuit had no contact with The main characteristics of the inuit culture for at least a century.

Martin Frobisher's 1576 search for the Northwest Passage was the first well-documented post- Columbian contact between Europeans and Inuit. Frobisher's expedition landed on Baffin Islandnot far from the town now called Iqaluit, but long known as Frobisher Bay.

This first contact went poorly. Several homesick sailors, tired of their adventure, attempted to leave in a small vessel and vanished. Frobisher brought an unwilling Inuk to Englanddoubtless the first Inuk ever to visit Europe.

The Inuit oral traditionin contrast, recounts the natives helping Frobisher's crewmen, whom they believed had been abandoned. By the mid-sixteenth century, Basque fishermen were already working the Labrador coast and had established whaling stations on land, such as has been excavated at Red Bay. The Inuit appear not to have interfered with their operations, but they raided the stations in winter for tools, and particularly worked iron, which they adapted to native needs.

In the final years of the eighteenth 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 more peaceful.

Hudson's Bay Company Ships bartering with Inuit off the Upper Savage Islands, Hudson Strait, 1819 The Hudson's Bay Company opened trading posts such as Great Whale River the main characteristics of the inuit culturetoday the site of the twin villages of Whapmagoostui and Kuujjuarapik, where whale products of the commercial whale hunt were processed and furs traded. The British Naval Expedition 1821-1823 led by Admiral William Edward Parry, which twice over wintered in Foxe Basin, 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 1824 and those of Lyon 1824 were widely read.

A few traders and missionaries circulated among the more accessible bands, and after 1904 they were accompanied by a handful of policemen. Unlike most Aboriginal peoples in Canada, however, the lands occupied by the Inuit were of little interest to European settlers—the homeland of the Inuit was a hostile hinterland.

The European arrival eventually damaged the Inuit way of life, causing mass death through new diseases introduced by whalers and explorers, as well as social disruptions. During the nineteenth century, the Western Arctic suffered a population decline of close to 90 percent of their population resulting from foreign diseases including tuberculosis, measlesinfluenza, and smallpox.

The Inuit believed that the cause of the disease came from a spiritual origin, and cures were said to be possible through confession. By the late 1920s, there were no longer any Inuit who had not been contacted by traders, missionaries or government the main characteristics of the inuit culture. In 1939, the Supreme Court of Canada found in Re Eskimos 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 Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who enforced Canadian criminal law on Inuit who often could not understand what they had done wrong, and by missionaries who preached a moral code very different from the one they were used to. 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 in the 1940s and 1950s brought more intensive contacts with European society, particularly in the form of public education, which instilled and enforced foreign values disdainful of the traditional structure of Inuit society.

In the 1950s a process of relocation was undertaken by the Government of Canada for several reasons including protection of Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic, lack of food in the area currently occupied, and an attempt to solve the "Eskimo problem," meaning the assimilation and end of the Inuit culture. One of the more notable relocations was undertaken in 1953, when 17 families were moved from Port Harrison now Inukjuak, Quebec to Resolute and Grise Fiord.

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, being more barren, longer winters, and polar night. They were told by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police 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 thirty years before they were able to return to Inukjuak. Image courtesy of www. By 1953, Canada's prime minister Louis St. Laurent publicly admitted, "Apparently we have administered the vast territories of the north in an almost the main characteristics of the inuit culture absence of mind.

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 enormously. Before long, the Inuit population was beyond what traditional 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. In the 1960s, the Canadian government funded the establishment of secular, government-operated high schools 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.

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 Tapiriit Kanatami in 1971, which began to make land claims.

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 and the establishment of a territory, the future Nunavut, whose aboriginal population would be predominately Inuit, [10] in the Northern and Eastern part.

Nunavut was formally established as a Canadian territory on April 1, 1999. They had received a comprehensive land claims settlement in 1984, with the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. With the establishment of part of Labrador as Nunatsiavut "Our Beautiful Land" in 2005, all the traditional Inuit lands in Canada are now covered by some sort of land claims agreement providing for regional autonomy. Culture Inuit basket made by Kinguktuk 1871-1941 of Barrow, Alaska.

Traditional Inuit ulu women's knife of the type used in the Arctic of Canada. The handle is made from caribou antler and the metal in the ulu is steel. Diet Traditionally, the Inuit have been hunters and fishers. They hunted, and still hunt, whaleswalrusescaribousealspolar bears, muskoxen, birds, and at times other less commonly eaten animals such as foxes.

While it is not possible to cultivate plants for food in the Arctic, gathering those that are naturally available has always been typical.

Grasses, tubers, roots, stems, berries, and seaweed were collected and preserved depending on the season and the location. In particular, he found that adequate vitamin C could be obtained from raw meat such as Ringed Seal liver and whale skin. While there was considerable skepticism when he reported these findings, they have been borne out in other studies. Curtis The Inuit hunted sea animals from single-passenger, covered seal-skin boats called qajaq which were extraordinarily buoyant, and could easily be righted by a seated person, even if completely overturned.

Because of this property, the Inuit design was copied, along with the Inuit word, by Europeans. They continue to be made and used around the world, kayak.

They also had a flat bottom so that it could come close to shore. In the winter, Inuit would also hunt sea mammals by patiently watching an aglu breathing hole in the ice and waiting for the air-breathing seals to use them, a technique also used by the polar bear. Traditional qamutik, Cape Dorset, 1999 On land, the Inuit used dog sleds qamutik for transportation.

The husky dog breed comes from Inuit breeding of dogs.