The Inuit People

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The Inuit People

The word Eskimo is not a proper Eskimo word. It means "eaters of raw

meat" and was used by the Algonquin Indians of eastern Canada for

their neighbours who wore animal-skin clothing and were ruthless

hunters. The name became commonly employed by European explorers and

now is generally used, even by them. Their own term for themselves is

Inuit which means the "real people."

The Inuit developed a way of life well-suited to their Arctic

environment, based on fishing; hunting seals, whales, and walruses in

the ocean; and hunting caribou, polar bears, and other game on land.

They lived in tents or travelled in skin-covered boats called kayaks

and umiaks in summer, and stayed in houses made of sod over winter,

building igloos when travelling by dogsled on hunting trips. Their

culture was largely based on nature and the land, passed on through

storytelling, dancing, drumming, and other rituals. Their habitation

area extends over four countries: the United States, Canada, the USSR,

and Greenland. The language is divided into two major dialectical

groups, the Inupik speakers (Greenland to western Alaska) and the

Yupik speakers (south-western Alaska and Siberia).

Contact with the outside world has drastically changed Inuit life.

Most people now live in wood houses and wear modern clothing instead

of animal skin clothes. Snowmobiles and outboards have been replaced

with traditional vehicles. Still, the Inuit are trying to preserve

their language and identity in a changing world. Their visual arts and

sculpture are widely admired, and their growing political status is a

hopeful sign for the future of "the people."


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...any contacts the

Eskimos became closely involved in a financial economy and came

increasingly to desire the superior technology of rifles, steel

knives, and other products available through trade. Institutional

features of their social life were also influenced by contacts with

Western culture.

Inuit Games

Contact with Europeans after 1700ad influenced some Inuit games and

Inuit game playing. Many Inuit games are traditional and require no

equipment. These latter games concern physical strength, agility, and

endurance. Some traditional games may have been learned in Asia before

the Inuit migrated across the Bering Strait (c2000bc), while others

were undoubtedly learned after migration, through contact with

southern aboriginal peoples who had migrated at an earlier time from

Asia into the western hemisphere.
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