In the arctic part of the world there are approximately 100,000 Inuit: 1,500 in Siberia, 30,000 in Alaska, 25,000 in Canada and 42,000 in Greenland. Today, there are roughly about 45,000 people. The Vikings were an early European influence on the Inuit, they arrived in Greenland in 980 A.D. They showed the Inuit people farming techniques they could use. The Inuit were originally located in the Canadian Arctic, some still remain there today. They have also expanded to Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia. Chief Dan George was a popular leader in 1899, Pitseolak Ashoona was a famous artist, and Susan Aglukark is a popular Inuit Canadian singer. Inuit treated human beings, the land, animals and plants with equal respect. Today, they continue to strive towards maintaining this harmonious relationship. They try to use the resources of the land and sea wisely in order to preserve them for future generations. The Inuit are also the only tribe to hunt whales.
Clothing for the Inuit tribe members is essential for their survival. The Inuit live in one of the world’s most extreme environment. Traditional Inuit dress for both men and women is made of skins and furs and consists of watertight boots, double-layer trousers, and the parka (a tight-fitting double-layer pullover jacket with a hood). In the past, thread and bone needles were used to sew the skins into warm and watertight clothing. Caribou skin was the most common choice for clothing, because it provided good insulation and was relatively light. They wore two layers: an inner layer with the fur facing the skin, and an outer layer with the fur facing out. Mittens were usually made out of caribou or sealskin, and were sometimes layered. Children's clothing was made of soft skin of younger animals. For the first couple of years, the children stay in the hood of their mother's amauti. When they are 2-3 years old they start wearing 'atajuqs' or combination suits. A combination suit is a piece of fur made into one suit with a hood, pants, mittens, and boots.
The Inuit have very long, cold, and harsh winters with little light. Their environment includes three oceans (Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic), mountains (Northern Rockies), and Arctic Plains (Tundra). They have to live with ice and deep snow for most of the year. Inuits who lived far north, had periods of complete darkness for months.
Inuit were nomadic people, they rarely stayed in one place for a long period of time. During winter, they followed the hunt living in snow houses or "igloos." It took them about 20 to 30 minutes to build igloos. In summer, they made tents made out of driftwood, pales, and animal skins.
The Inuit were skilled hunters, and caught food year-round, even during the harsh winters. They had to depend mostly on hunting because, due to the harsh winters, there was little vegetation or any around most of the year. They were able to hunt for food year-round, so depending on the season they would hunt for different animals. Sea mammals were usually hunted during the winter when they were out on the ice. Inuit hunters would wait for hours sitting dead still on top of ice waiting for a seal to pop their head out of one of their breathe holes. Sometimes seals would not show up for days, but if so Inuit hunters would use spears to kill the seal. However, some sea mammals, like whales, were hunted in the open water. They could use whale fat for fuel to start and keep fires lit. They hunted mainly for seal (meat and skin), walrus (meat mostly for dogs), Beluga Whales ( skin and food), and Narwhal (ivory, and meat for dogs.) They also hunted some land animals: caribou, musk oxen, arctic fox, polar bear, arctic hare, and arctic birds. They would use animal fur and/or skin for warmth for clothes or as camouflage to get closer to animals of pray. Most Inuit used stone or animal bones to make tools and weapons. When fishing, they attached sealskin floats to harpoon heads keeping animals close to surface after death. Harpoons were made out of ivory from walrus tusk or whale bone. They also created their own unique tool called the ulu, used to skin animals and buther them.
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