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." ... ... middle of paper ... ...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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