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While there are some allegations that Inuit were hostile to early French 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 were based on a mutual interest in trade. 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.
From then on, contacts between the national groups in Labrador were far more peaceful. The exchanges that accompanied the arrival and colonization by the Europeans greatly damaged the Inuit way of life. Mass death was caused by the new infectious diseases carried by whalers and explorers, to which the indigenous peoples had no acquired immunity.
The high mortality rate contributed to the enormous social disruptions caused by the distorting effect of Europeans' material wealth and introduction of different materials. Nonetheless, Inuit society in the higher latitudes largely remained in isolation during the 19th century. The Hudson's Bay Company opened trading posts such as Great Whale River , today the site of the twin villages of Whapmagoostui and Kuujjuarapik , where whale products of the commercial whale hunt were processed and furs traded.
It 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 were widely read after they were both published in During the early 20th century a few traders and missionaries circulated among the more accessible bands.
Unlike most Aboriginal peoples in Canada, however, the Inuit did not occupy lands that were coveted by European settlers. Used to more temperate climates and conditions, most Europeans considered the homeland of the Inuit to be a hostile hinterland. Southerners enjoyed lucrative careers as bureaucrats and service providers to the peoples of the North, but very few ever chose to visit there.
Once its more hospitable lands were largely settled, the government of Canada and entrepreneurs began to take a greater interest in its more peripheral territories, especially the fur and mineral-rich hinterlands. By the late s, there were no longer any Inuit who had not been contacted by traders, missionaries or government agents. In , the Supreme Court of Canada found, in a decision known as Re Eskimos , that the Inuit should be considered Indians and were thus under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
People such as Kikkik often did not understand the rules of the alien society with which they had to interact. In addition, the generally Protestant missionaries of the British preached a moral code very different from the one the Inuit had as part of their tradition. Many of the Inuit were systematically converted to Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries, through rituals such as the Siqqitiq.
Thanks to the development of modern long-distance aircraft, these areas became accessible year-round. The construction of air bases and the Distant Early Warning Line in the s and s brought more intensive contacts with European society, particularly in the form of public education for children. The traditionalists complained that Canadian education promoted foreign values that were disdainful of the traditional structure and culture of Inuit society.
In the s the Government of Canada undertook what was called the High Arctic relocation for several reasons. These were to include protecting Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic , alleviating hunger as the area currently occupied had been over-hunted , and attempting to solve the "Eskimo problem", by seeking assimilation of the people and the end of their traditional Inuit culture.
One of the more notable relocations was undertaken in , 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; it was barren, with only a couple of months when the temperature rose above freezing, and several months of polar night. The families were told by the RCMP they would be able to return to their home territory within two years if conditions were not right.
However, two years later more Inuit families were relocated to the High Arctic. Thirty years passed before they were able to visit Inukjuak. By , Canada's prime minister Louis St.
Laurent publicly admitted, "Apparently we have administered the vast territories of the north in an almost continuing absence of mind. Regular visits from doctors, and access to modern medical care raised the birth rate and decreased the death rate , causing a marked natural increase in the population that made it more difficult for them to survive by traditional means. In the s, the Canadian government began to actively settle Inuit into permanent villages and cities, occasionally against their will such as in Nuntak and Hebron.
In the Canadian government acknowledged the abuses inherent in these forced resettlements. The nomadic migrations that were the central feature of Arctic life had become a much smaller part of life in the North. 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 were quick to predict that Inuit culture was facing extinction, Inuit political activism was already emerging. In the s, 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.
These schools, in Aklavik , Iqaluit, Yellowknife , Inuvik and Kuujjuaq , 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 that prevailed in Canada in the s. 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 s 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 s and early s, shortly after the first graduates returned home. They formed new politically active associations in the early s, starting with 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 , and more region specific organizations shortly afterwards, including the Committee for the Original People's Entitlement representing the Inuvialuit ,  the Northern Quebec Inuit Association Makivik Corporation and the Labrador Inuit Association LIA representing Northern Labrador Inuit.
Since the mids the Southern Labrador Inuit of NunatuKavut began organizing politically after being geographically cut out of the LIA, however, for political expediency the organization was erroneously called the Labrador Métis Nation. These various activist movements began to change the direction of Inuit society in with the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
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 , although they had to wait until to have a signed land settlement establishing Nunatsiavut. Southern Labrador Inuit of NunatuKavut are currently in the process of establishing landclaims and title rights that would allow them to negotiate with the Newfoundland Government.
On October 30, , Leona Aglukkaq was appointed as Minister of Health , "[becoming] the first Inuk to hold a senior cabinet position, although she is not the first Inuk to be in cabinet altogether. In the United States, the term "Eskimo" is still commonly used, because it includes Inuit, Iñupiat, and Yupik peoples whilst distinguishing them from American Indians.
The Yupik do not speak an Inuit language nor consider themselves to be Inuit. In Canada and Greenland, "Inuit" is preferred.
Inuit speak Inuinnaqtun , Inuktitut , Inuvialuktun , and Greenlandic languages , which belong to the Inuit-Inupiaq branch of the Eskimo—Aleut language family. Inuktitut is spoken in Canada and along with Inuinnaqtun is one of the official languages of Nunavut; they are known collectively as the Inuit Language. Inuit in Alaska and Northern Canada also typically speak English. Canadian Inuit may also speak Québécois French. Finally, Deaf Inuit speak Inuit Sign Language , which is a language isolate and almost extinct as only around 50 people still speak it.
The Inuit have traditionally been fishers and hunters. They still hunt whales esp. Grasses , tubers , roots , stems , berries , and seaweed kuanniq or edible seaweed were collected and preserved depending on the season and the location. In the s anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson lived with and studied a group of Inuit. Stefansson 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 could be obtained from items in their traditional diet of raw meat such as ringed seal liver and whale skin muktuk.
While there was considerable skepticism when he reported these findings, they have been borne out in recent studies and analyses. The natives hunted sea animals from single-passenger, covered seal-skin boats called qajaq Inuktitut syllabics: Because of this property, the design was copied by Europeans and Americans who still produce them under the Inuit name kayak.
Inuit also made umiaq "woman's boat" , larger open boats made of wood frames covered with animal skins, for transporting people, goods, and dogs. 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.
This technique is also used by the polar bear, who hunts by seeking holes in the ice and waiting nearby. In winter, both on land and on sea ice, the Inuit used dog sleds qamutik for transportation. The husky dog breed comes from Inuit breeding of dogs and wolves for transportation. The Inuit used stars to navigate at sea and landmarks to navigate on land; they possessed a comprehensive native system of toponymy.
Where natural landmarks were insufficient, the Inuit would erect an inukshuk. Dogs played an integral role in the annual routine of the Inuit. 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 favored, and tried to breed, the most striking and handsome of dogs, especially ones with bright eyes and a healthy coat. The Inuit would perform rituals over the newborn pup to give it favorable qualities; the legs were pulled to make them grow strong and the nose was poked with a pin to enhance the sense of smell.
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. Walrus ivory 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 and whaling, were carved from ivory and bone. In modern times prints and figurative works carved in relatively soft stone such as soapstone , serpentinite , or argillite 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.
The anorak parka is made in a similar fashion by Arctic peoples from Europe through Asia and the Americas, including the Inuit.
The hood of an amauti , women's parka, plural amautiit was traditionally made extra large with a separate compartment below the hood 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 or kamik  , 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 igloo , and during the few months of the year when temperatures were above freezing, they lived in tents, known as tupiq ,  made of animal skins supported by a frame of bones or wood.
The division of labor 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: Open marriages , polygamy , divorce , 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 , sometimes in infancy , and occasionally forced on the couple by the community. Marriage was common for women at puberty and for men when they became productive hunters. Family structure was flexible: 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 nomadic. Loud singing and drumming were also customary after a birth. Virtually all Inuit cultures have oral traditions of raids by other indigenous peoples, including fellow Inuit, and of taking vengeance on them in return, such as the Bloody Falls massacre.
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.
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. 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 neighbors, tended to be merciless.
A pervasive European myth about Inuit is that they killed elderly senicide and "unproductive people",  but this is not generally true.
Leenaars ' book Suicide in Canada he states that " Rasmussen found that the death of elders by suicide was a commonplace among the Iglulik Inuit. According to Franz Boas , suicide was " Aged people who have outlived their usefulness and whose life is a burden both to themselves and their relatives are put to death by stabbing or strangulation.
This is customarily done at the request of the individual concerned, but not always so. Aged people who are a hindrance on the trail are abandoned. When food is not sufficient, the elderly are the least likely to survive. In the extreme case of famine , 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. 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. 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 and , a storm with high winds caused ocean waves to erode part of the bluffs near Barrow, Alaska , 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.
It was a female child, approximately 9 years old, who had clearly been born with a congenital birth defect. Autopsies near Greenland reveal that, more commonly pneumonia , kidney diseases , trichinosis , malnutrition , and degenerative disorders may have contributed to mass deaths among different Inuit tribes.
The Inuit believed that the causes of the disease were of a spiritual origin. More common among the Canadian Inuit than it is among non-indigenous southern Canadians. In the incidence in Nunavut Was per , — more than 66 times the rate seen in the general population".
Inuit traditional laws are anthropologically different from Western law concepts. Customary law was thought non-existent in Inuit society before the introduction of the Canadian legal system. Hoebel , in , concluded that only 'rudimentary law' existed amongst the Inuit. Indeed, prior to about , 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:.
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.
We are told today that Inuit never had laws or "maligait". They say because they are not written on paper. When I think of paper, I think you can tear it up, and the laws are gone. The laws of the Inuit are not on paper.
The environment in which the Inuit lived inspired a mythology 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 , or northern lights, to find images of their family and friends dancing in the next life.
This tale is still told to children today. The nearest thing to a central deity was the Old Woman Sedna , who lived beneath the sea. The waters, a central food source, were believed to contain great gods. The Inuit practiced a form of shamanism based on animist 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 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 , 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 recognized 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. Although the 50,  Inuit listed in the Canada Census can be found throughout Canada the majority, 44,, live in four regions.
As of the Canada Census there were 4, Inuit living in Newfoundland and Labrador  and about 2, live in Nunatsiavut. As of the Canada Census there were 24, Inuit living in Nunavut. As of the Canada Census there were 10, Inuit living in Quebec. The population size of Greenlandic people in Denmark varies from source to source between 15, and 20, According to figures from Statistics Denmark there are 15, people residing in Denmark of Greenlandic Inuit ancestry.
Nonetheless, it has come together with other circumpolar cultural and political groups to promote the Inuit and other northern people in their fight against ecological problems such as climate change which disproportionately affects the Inuit population. At that event they signed the Nuuk Declaration. They are officially represented by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and, in , received a comprehensive land claims settlement, the first in Northern Canada, with the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.
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. The Canadian Parliament passed the supporting legislation in June of the same year, enabling the establishment of Nunavut as a territorial entity.
With the establishment of Nunatsiavut in , 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.
Although still a part of the Kingdom of Denmark along with Denmark proper and the Faroe Islands , Greenland, known as Kalaallit Nunaat in the Greenlandic language , maintains much autonomy today. Their economy is based on fishing and shrimping. 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.
European Colonization of Alaska started in the 18th century by Russia. By the s, the Russian government was considering ridding itself of its Russian America colony. Alaska was officially incorporated to United States on January 3, Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States , is in the Inupiat region.
Their language is Iñupiaq which is the singular form of Inupiat. Inuit art , carving, print making, textiles and Inuit throat singing , are very popular, not only in Canada but globally, and Inuit artists are widely known.
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