The Inuit

By, Chelsea Henderson

Location

The Inuit's location was always around the sea, they spent thousands of years in Russia, Alaska, and recently Nunavut. The land was flat and frozen, only the top few inches of earth thaw out during the Summer. Their location was also based on the migration of caribou.

Food and Economy

The Inuit were mostly hunters, and they relied heavily on animals in the Arctic for food. Their main food choices was caribou, seal, whale, bison, and walrus. The majority of food came from the ocean and was eaten raw. The Inuit's economy revolved around their food also featuring blubber as their top trade. Economy also revolved around changing seasons and animal hunting periods.

Social Structure

The Inuit mostly lived in family groups with 5-6 people. Marriage was also important, most people chose who they married but sometimes there were arranged marriages. The women had a great deal of status in society because they made clothing that was very important for the cold climate. Men would leave home and find food while the women would stay home with the children. There were also chiefs chosen only for temporary purposes, they didn't have great authority.
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Religion

The Inuit people believed in a great amount of evil spirits watching over them. Sea goddesses were particularly important because they "controlled" the weather. The Inuit also believed in the after life which was either in the sea or sky. After people had died names were given to infants, who were believed to inherit the personal qualities from whom they were named after.

Festivals

There was less social attraction in winter when families grouped together and the weather prevented much outdoor activities. In the summer time people would gather together and sing songs, tell stories, and play string games like cats cradle. During the middle of January, the Inuit celebrated the re-emergence of the sun following several weeks of total darkness. Some say this celebration was more important than New Year's. There was also a ceremony called "Bladder dance" which was often held after a large hunt. The Inuit believed that the soul of an animal was found inside the bladder, so if the bladder was honoured and returned to sea, then the animal's spirit would find a new body.
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Dwellings

The Inuit lived in igloos and snow huts in the winter time. Log huts if they could find enough driftwood, and tents built with skin in the summer. Winter houses were made of blocks of snow, cut and constructed into a dome shape.Once the structure is finished, a seal oil lamp was lit to heat air, this would melt the inside snow which would quickly freeze up again creating a bond over inside surface.

4 Vocab Words :)

After Life- belief that a part of, or essence of a soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and lifetime, by natural/supernatural means

Potlach- gift-giving festival and primary economic system practiced by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and US

Folk Tale- consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are traditions of culture, subculture, or group.

Tundra- biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temps and short growing seasons. There are 3 types: Arctic, Alpine, and Antarctic

What was your aboriginal group's relationship with the environment they lived in?

Having a strong relationship with their land is very important to the Inuit people's. This is portrayed in how they caught their food, how religion was practiced, and also how their shelter was built. Without the large amounts of snow fall and low temperatures Inuit people wouldn't be able to build igloos, which would eventually kill them from hypothermia. Secondly, Inuit people tracked their prey using footprints in the snow, without the frozen sea they would starve. The Inuit also believed in certain religious theories to do with the environment. For example they believed that sea goddesses controlled the land.

Extra Information

Inukshuks- were also a major part in Inuit society there were large rock Cairns made from balancing rocks that were heaved to the surface by the frozen earth.

Masks- most masks were made out of wood or whalebone. They were used in ceremonial dances. Yup'ik masks were used in the spiritual world to show leaders like the Shamans.

Hunting tools- Most hunting tools were made out of stone, or animals parts such as teeth and bones. The Inuit used knives for cutting meat, spears and bow and arrows for hunting, and Ivory harpoon heads for fishing.

Art- Inuit art was also a major part of their society they would make carvings out of stone, bone, and ivory.

Clothing

Clothing of the Inuit was mostly made out of animal skins, and furs. They usually dressed in several layers as protection from the cold climate. Caribou was the favourite for clothing choices because it was very durable and light. It was most common to wear two layers of caribou skin, an inner layer with fur facing the skin, and an outer layer with fur facing out. Men and women also wore outer layers called Parkas. Children would wear similar material but they had a combination suit which was a piece of fur made into one suit with mittens, a hood, pants, and boots (like a onesie).

Transportation

When the Inuit first arrived in North America they brought dogs. The dogs were great helpers during hunting season to scare off bears and help track prey. But the dogs were also used to pull a sled filled with food, clothing, and people. During the summer months the Inuit travelled on kayaks and umiaks.