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Alaska: Eskimos
1 year ago


Eskimos are indigenous peoples who have traditionally inhabited the circumpolar region from eastern Siberia (Russia), across Alaska (United States), Canada, and Greenland.

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1 year ago

There are two main groups that are referred to as Eskimo: Yupik and Inuit. A third group, the Aleut, is related. The Yupik language dialects and cultures in Alaska and eastern Siberia have evolved in place beginning with the original (pre-Dorset) Eskimo culture that developed in Alaska. Approximately 4,000 years ago the Unangam (also known as Aleut) culture became distinctly separate, and evolved into a non-Eskimo culture.

1 year ago

Approximately 1,500-2,000 years ago, apparently in Northwestern Alaska, two other distinct variations appeared. The Inuit language branch became distinct and in only several hundred years spread across northern Alaska, Canada and into Greenland. At about the same time, the technology of the Thule people developed in northwestern Alaska and very quickly spread over the entire area occupied by Eskimo people, though it was not necessarily adopted by all of them.

1 year ago

The earliest known Eskimo cultures (pre-Dorset) date to 5,000 years ago. They appear to have evolved in Alaska from people using the Arctic small tool tradition who probably had migrated to Alaska from Siberia at least 2,000 to 3,000 years earlier, though they might have been in Alaska as far back as 10,000 to 12,000 years or more. There are similar artifacts found in Siberia going back perhaps 18,000 years.

1 year ago

Today, the two main groups of Eskimos are the Inuit of northern Alaska, Canada and Greenland, and the Yupik of Central Alaska. The Yupik comprises speakers of four distinct Yupik languages originated from the western Alaska, in South Central Alaska along the Gulf of Alaska coast, and the Russian Far East.

1 year ago

In Alaska, the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat, while Inuit is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat. No universal term other than Eskimo, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, exists for the Inuit and Yupik peoples.

1 year ago

In Canada and Greenland, the term Eskimo has fallen out of favor, as it is sometimes considered pejorative and has been replaced by the term Inuit. The Canadian Constitution Act of 1982, sections 25 and 35, recognized the Inuit as a distinctive group of aboriginal peoples in Canada.

1 year ago
Origins



Two principal competing etymologies have been proposed for the name "Eskimo", both from the Innu-aimun (Montagnais) language. The most commonly accepted today appears to be the proposal of Ives Goddard at the Smithsonian Institution, who derives it from the Montagnais word meaning "snowshoe-netter".

1 year ago

Jose Mailhot, a Quebec anthropologist who speaks Montagnais, however, published a paper in 1978 which suggested that the meaning is "people who speak a different language".

1 year ago

The primary reason that Eskimo is considered derogatory is the arguable but widespread perception that in Algonkian languages it means "eaters of raw meat." One Cree speaker suggested the original word that became corrupted to Eskimo might indeed have been askamiciw (which means "he eats it raw"), and the Inuit are referred to in some Cree texts as askipiw (which means "eats something raw"). The majority of academic linguists do not agree. Nevertheless, it is commonly felt in Canada and Greenland that the term Eskimo is pejorative.

1 year ago

The Inuit Circumpolar Conference meeting in Barrow, Alaska, officially adopted "Inuit" as a designation for all Eskimos, regardless of their local usages, in 1977. However, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, as it is known today, uses both "Inuit" and "Eskimo" in its official documents.

1 year ago

In Canada and Greenland the term Eskimo is widely held to be pejorative and has fallen out of favor, largely supplanted by the term Inuit. However, while Inuit describes all of the Eskimo peoples in Canada and Greenland, that is not true in Alaska and Siberia. In Alaska the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat, while Inuit is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat (who technically are Inuit). No universal term other than Eskimo, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, exists for the Inuit and Yupik peoples.

1 year ago

In 1977, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference meeting in Barrow, Alaska, officially adopted Inuit as a designation for all circumpolar native peoples, regardless of their local view on an appropriate term. As a result the Canadian government usage has replaced the (locally) defunct term Eskimo with Inuit (Inuk in singular). The preferred term in Canada's Central Arctic is Inuinnaq, and in the eastern Canadian Arctic Inuit. The language is often called Inuktitut, though other local designations are also used.

1 year ago

The Inuit of Greenland refer to themselves as Greenlanders or, in their own language, Kalaallit, and to their language as Greenlandic or Kalaallisut.

1 year ago

Because of the linguistic, ethnic, and cultural differences between Yupik and Inuit peoples there is uncertainty as to the acceptance of any term encompassing all Yupik and Inuit people. There has been some movement to use Inuit, and the Inuit Circumpolar Council, representing a circumpolar population of 150,000 Inuit and Yupik people of Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and Siberia, in its charter defines Inuit for use within the ICC as including "the Inupiat, Yupik (Alaska), Inuit, Inuvialuit (Canada), Kalaallit (Greenland) and Yupik (Russia)." However, even the Inuit people in Alaska refer to themselves as Inupiat (the language is Inupiaq) and do not typically use the term Inuit. Thus, in Alaska, Eskimo is in common usage, and is the preferred term when speaking collectively of all Inupiat and Yupik people, or of all Inuit and Yupik people throughout the world.

1 year ago

Alaskans also use the term Alaska Native, which is inclusive of all Eskimo, Aleut and Indian people of Alaska, and is exclusive of Inuit or Yupik people originating outside the state. The term Alaska Native has important legal usage in Alaska and the rest of the United States as a result of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.

1 year ago

The term "Eskimo" is also used worldwide in linguistic or ethnographic works to denote the larger branch of Eskimo-Aleut languages, the smaller branch being Aleut.

1 year ago
Language



The Eskimo-Aleut family of languages includes two cognate branches: the Aleut (Unangan) branch and the Eskimo branch. The Eskimo sub-family consists of the Inuit language and Yupik language sub-groups. The Sirenikski language, which is virtually extinct, is sometimes regarded as a third branch of the Eskimo language family, but other sources regard it as a group belonging to the Yupik branch.

1 year ago

Inuit languages comprise a dialect continuum, or dialect chain, that stretches from Unalakleet and Norton Sound in Alaska, across northern Alaska and Canada, and east all the way to Greenland. Changes from western (Inupiaq) to eastern dialects are marked by the dropping of vestigial Yupik-related features, increasing consonant assimilation (e.g., kumlu, meaning "thumb," changes to kuvlu, changes to kublu, changes to kulluk, changes to kulluq), and increased consonant lengthening, and lexical change. Thus, speakers of two adjacent Inuit dialects would usually be able to understand one another, but speakers from dialects distant from each other on the dialect continuum would have difficulty understanding one another.

1 year ago

Seward Peninsula dialects in Western Alaska, where much of the Inupiat culture has only been in place for perhaps less than 500 years, are greatly affected by phonological influence from the Yupik languages. Eastern Greenlandic, at the opposite end of the Inuit range has had significant word replacement due to a unique form of ritual name avoidance.

1 year ago

The four Yupik languages, including Alutiiq (Sugpiaq), Central Alaskan Yup'ik, Naukan (Naukanski), and Siberian Yupik are distinct languages with phonological, morphological, and lexical differences, and demonstrating limited mutual intelligibility.

1 year ago

Additionally, both Alutiiq and Central Yup'ik have considerable dialect diversity. The northernmost Yupik languages - Siberian Yupik and Naukanski Yupik - are linguistically only slightly closer to Inuit than is Alutiiq, which is the southernmost of the Yupik languages. Although the grammatical structures of Yupik and Inuit languages are similar, they have pronounced differences phonologically, and differences of vocabulary between Inuit and any of one of the Yupik languages is greater than between any two Yupik languages. Even the dialectal differences within Alutiiq and Central Alaskan Yup'ik sometimes are relatively great for locations that are relatively close geographically.

1 year ago

While grammatical structures of Yupik and Inuit languages are similar, they have pronounced differences phonologically and differences of vocabulary between Inuit and any of one of the Yupik languages is greater than between any two Yupik languages.

1 year ago

The Sirenikski language is sometimes regarded as a third branch of the Eskimo language family, but other sources regard it as a group belonging to the Yupik branch.

1 year ago

Aleut Languages



Eskimo (Yup'ik, Yuit, and Inuit):

1 year ago

Yupik

Central Alaskan Yup'ik (10,000 speakers)
Alutiiq or Pacific Gulf Yup'ik (400 speakers)
Central Siberian Yupik or Yuit (Chaplinon and St Lawrence Island, 1,400 speakers)
Naukan (700 speakers)

1 year ago

Inuit or Inupik Languages


(75,000 speakers)

Inupiaq (northern Alaska, 3,500 speakers)
Inuvialuktun (western Canada; together with Siglitun, Natsilingmiutut, Inuinnaqtun and Uummarmiutun 765 speakers)
Inuktitut (eastern Canada; together with Inuktun and Inuinnaqtun, 30,000 speakers)
Kalaallisut (Greenland, 47,000 speakers)
Inuktun (Avanersuarmiutut, Thule dialect or Polar Eskimo, approximately 1,000 speakers)
Tunumiit oraasiat (East Greenlandic known as Tunumiisut, 3,500 speakers)

1 year ago

Sirenik Eskimo language (Sirenikskiy) (extinct)

1 year ago
Society, Marriage



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.

1 year ago

The marital customs among the Inuit were not strictly monogamous: many Inuit relationships were implicitly or explicitly sexual. 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.

1 year ago

Marriage was common for women at puberty and for men when they became productive hunters. Family structure was flexible: a household might consist of a man and his wife (or wives) and children; it might include his parents or his wife's parents as well as adopted children; it might be a larger formation of several siblings with their parents, wives and children; or even more than one family sharing dwellings and resources. Every household had its head, an elder or a particularly respected man.

1 year ago

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.

1 year ago

The Inuit were hunter-gatherers, and have been referred to as nomadic. One of the customs following the birth of an infant was for an Angakkuq (shaman) to place a tiny ivory carving of a whale into the baby's mouth, in hopes this would make the child good at hunting. Loud singing and drumming were also customary after a birth.

1 year ago
Homes



Thermal Glass Igloos

1 year ago

Eskimos traditionally used various types of houses. Tents of caribou skins or sealskins provided adequate summer dwellings; in colder seasons shelter was constructed of sod, driftwood, or sometimes stone, placed over excavated floors. Among some Eskimo groups the snow hut was used as a winter residence. More commonly, however, such structures were used as temporary overnight shelters during journeys.

1 year ago



Eskimos do not live in igloos made of snow, as most people think. Ice houses are built only as temporary shelters during winter hunting trips. The Igloo is made from blocks of snow and it has got a hole in the top for a chimney. Permanent homes are usually built of wood, whalebone and covered with seal skins and earth. Seal oil is burned for warmth and light. During the short summers, they live in tents made of animal skins.

1 year ago

Eskimos traditionally built various types of houses. Tents of caribou skins or sealskins provided adequate summer dwellings; in colder seasons shelter was constructed of sod, driftwood, or sometimes stone, placed over excavated floors.

1 year ago



Communities



1 year ago



Communities are sometimes large but generally small with teamwork between community members, a leader recognized for his ability to provide for the group. Only the most personal property was considered private; any equipment reverted through disuse to those who had need for it.

1 year ago
Travel



The natives hunted sea animals from single-passenger, covered seal-skin boats called qajaq which were extraordinarily buoyant, and could easily be righted by a seated person, even if completely overturned. Because of this property the design was copied by Europeans, and Americans who still produce them under the Inuit name kayak.

1 year ago

Inuit also made umiaq ("woman's boat"), larger open boats made of wood frames covered with animal skins, for transporting people, goods and dogs. They were 6-12 m (20-39 ft) long and had a flat bottom so that the boats could come close to shore. 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.

1 year ago

On land, the Inuit used dog sleds (qamutik) for transportation. The husky dog breed comes from Inuit breeding of dogs and wolves for transportation. A team of dogs in either a tandem/side-by-side or fan formation would pull a sled made of wood, animal bones, or the baleen from a whale's mouth and even frozen fish, over the snow and ice. 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.

1 year ago

Dogs played an integral role in the annual routine of the Inuit. During the summer they became pack animals, sometimes dragging up to 20 kg (44 lb) of baggage and in the winter they pulled the sled. 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.

1 year ago

Common husky dog breeds used by the Inuit were the Canadian Eskimo Dog, the official animal of Nunavut, (Qimmiq; Inuktitut for dog), the Greenland Dog, the Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Malamute. The Inuit would perform rituals over the newborn pup to give it favorable qualities; the legs were pulled to make them grow strong and nose was poked with a pin to enhance the sense of smell.

1 year ago

1 year ago

The dogsled was used for the hauling of heavy loads over long distances, made necessary by the Eskimos' nomadic hunting life.

1 year ago

1 year ago

Their skin canoe, known as a kayak, is one of the most highly maneuverable small craft ever constructed. Hunting technologies included several types of harpoons, the bow and arrow, knives, and fish spears and weirs.

1 year ago



In modern times, their mode of transportation is
typically the all-terrain vehicle or the snowmobile.

1 year ago
Economy



Traditionally, most groups relied on sea mammals for food, illumination, cooking oil, tools, and weapons. Fish and caribou were next in importance in their economy. The practice of eating raw meat, disapproved of by their Native American neighbors, saved scarce fuel and provided their limited diet with essential nutritional elements that cooking would destroy. Except for the Caribou Eskimo of central Canada, they were a littoral people who roved inland in the summer for freshwater fishing and game hunting.

1 year ago

Eskimos in the United States and Canada now live largely in settled communities, working for wages and using guns for hunting. Their mode of transportation is typically the all-terrain vehicle or the snowmobile. The native food supply has been reduced through the use of firearms, but, as a result of increased contact with other cultures, the Eskimo are no longer completely dependent on their traditional sources of sustenance.

1 year ago

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 granted Alaska natives some 44 million acres of land and established native village and regional corporations to encourage economic growth. In 1990 the Eskimo population of the United States was some 57,000, with most living in Alaska. There are over 33,000 Inuit in Canada, the majority living in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, N Quebec, and Labrador.

1 year ago

Nunavut was created out of the Northwest Territories in 1999 as a politically separate, predominantly Inuit territory. A settlement with the Inuit of Labrador established (2005) Nunatsiavut, a self-governing area in N and central E Labrador. There are also Eskimo populations in Greenland and Siberia. In the traditional Eskimo economy, the division of labor between the sexes was strict; men constructed homes and hunted, and women took care of the homes.

1 year ago

The division of labour 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.

1 year ago

The marital customs among the Inuit were not strictly monogamous: many Inuit relationships were implicitly or explicitly sexual. 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.

1 year ago

Marriage was common for women at puberty and for men when they became productive hunters. Family structure was flexible: a household might consist of a man and his wife (or wives) and children; it might include his parents or his wife's parents as well as adopted children; it might be a larger formation of several siblings with their parents, wives and children; or even more than one family sharing dwellings and resources. Every household had its head, an elder or a particularly respected man.

11 months ago

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.

11 months ago

The Inuit were hunterÐgatherers, and have been referred to as nomadic. One of the customs following the birth of an infant was for an Angakkuq (shaman) to place a tiny ivory carving of a whale into the baby's mouth, in hopes this would make the child good at hunting. Loud singing and drumming were also customary after a birth.

10 months ago
Diet



10 months ago

Traditionally, most groups relied on sea mammals for food, illumination, cooking oil, tools, and weapons. Fish and caribou were next in importance in their economy. The practice of eating raw meat, disapproved of by their Native American neighbors, saved scarce fuel and provided their limited diet with essential nutritional elements that cooking would destroy. Except for the Caribou Eskimo of central Canada, they were a littoral people who roved inland in the summer for freshwater fishing and game hunting.

10 months ago

Today the native food supply has been reduced through the use of firearms, but, as a result of increased contact with other cultures, the Eskimo are no longer completely dependent on their traditional sources of sustenance.

10 months ago

Inuit choose their diet based on four concepts: "the relationship between animals and humans, the relationship between the body and soul and life and health, the relationship between seal blood and Inuit blood, and diet choice." Inuit are especially spiritual when it comes to the customs of hunting, cooking, and eating. The Inuit belief is that the combination of animal and human blood in one's bloodstream creates a healthy human body and soul.

9 months ago

The Inuit have traditionally been fishers and hunters. They still hunt whales (esp. bowhead whale), walrus, caribou, seal, polar bears, muskoxen, birds, and at times other less commonly eaten animals such as the Arctic Fox. The typical Inuit diet is high in protein and very high in fat - in their traditional diets, Inuit consumed an average of 75% of their daily energy intake from fat. While it is not possible to cultivate plants for food in the Arctic, the Inuit have traditionally gathered those that are naturally available. Grasses, tubers, roots, stems, berries, and seaweed (kuanniq or edible seaweed) were collected and preserved depending on the season and the location.There is a vast array of different hunting technologies that the Inuit used to gather their food.

9 months ago

In the 1920s anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson lived with and studied a group of Inuit. The study focused on the fact that the Inuit's extremely low-carbohydrate diet had no adverse effects on their health, nor indeed, Stefansson's own health. Stefansson (1946) 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.

9 months ago

According to Inuit hunters and elders, hunters and seals have an agreement that allows the hunter to capture and feed from the seal if only for the hunger of the hunter's family. This alliance "both hunter and seal are believed to benefit: the hunter is able to sustain the life of his people by having a reliable source of food, and the seal, through its sacrifice, agrees to become part of the body of the Inuit." Inuit are under the belief that if they do not follow the alliances that their ancestors have laid out, the animals will disappear because they have been offended and will cease to reproduce.

9 months ago

Inuit are known for their practice of food sharing, a form of food distribution where one person catches the food and shares with the entire community. Food sharing was first documented among the Inuit in 1910 when a little girl decided to take a platter around to four neighboring families who had no food of their own.

8 months ago

Inuit consume a diet of foods that are fished, hunted, and gathered locally. This may include walrus, Ringed Seal, Bearded Seal, beluga whale, caribou, polar bear, muskoxen, birds (including their eggs) and fish. While it is not possible to cultivate plants for food in the Arctic the Inuit have traditionally gathered those that are naturally available. Grasses, tubers, roots, stems, berries, fireweed and seaweed (kuanniq or edible seaweed) were collected and preserved depending on the season and the location. According to Edmund Searles in his article "Food and the Making of Modern Inuit Identities," they consume this type of diet because a mostly meat diet is "effective in keeping the body warm, making the body strong, keeping the body fit, and even making that body healthy".

8 months ago

Weapons

8 months ago

8 months ago

Ancient manmade weapons for hunting and fishing followed the develop of other cultures on the planet - harpoons, knives, bow and arrows, etc. some crafted from wood, ivory, bone, copper, or stone. Today modern weapons are used along with ancient designs.

8 months ago

Clothing



Inupiat family, Noatak, Alaska

7 months ago

Eskimo clothing was sewn largely of caribou hide and included parkas, breeches, mittens, snow goggles, and boots. Finely crafted items such as needles, combs, awls, figurines, and decorative carvings on weapons were executed with the rotary bow drill.

7 months ago

7 months ago

7 months ago

Art




Inuit art refers to artwork produced by Inuit people, that is, the people of the Arctic previously known as Eskimos, a term that is now often considered offensive outside Alaska. Historically their preferred medium was walrus ivory, but since the establishment of southern markets for Inuit art in 1945, prints and figurative works carved in relatively soft stone such as soapstone, serpentinite, or argillite have also become popular.

7 months ago

Around 4000 BCE nomads known as the Pre-Dorset or the Arctic small tool tradition (ASTT) crossed over the Bering Strait from Siberia into Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, and Newfoundland. Very little remains of them, and only a few preserved artifacts carved in ivory could be considered works of art.

6 months ago

The Dorset culture, which became culturally distinct around 600 BCE, produced a significant amount of figurative art in the mediums of walrus ivory, bone, caribou antler, and on rare occasion stone. Subjects included birds, bears, walruses, seals, and human figures, as well as remarkably small masks. The Dorsets depicted bears and other animals in ivory with lines indicating their skeletal system incised on the surface of the ivory; bears in such a style are known as "flying bears". These items had a magical or religious significance, and were either worn as amulets to ward off evil spirits, or used in shamanic rituals.

6 months ago

The Ipiutak culture seems to represent a classical period of Inuit development. The artwork is extremely elaborate, incorporating geometric, animal, and anthropomorhic designs.

6 months ago

Around 1000 CE, the people of the Thule culture, ancestors of today's Inuit, migrated from northern Alaska and either displaced or slaughtered the earlier Dorset inhabitants. Thule art had a definite Alaskan influence, and included utilitarian objects such as combs, buttons, needle cases, cooking pots, ornate spears and harpoons. The graphic decorations incised on them were purely ornamental, bearing no religious significance, but to make the objects used in everyday life appealing.

6 months ago

All of the Inuit utensils, tools and weapons were made by hand from natural materials: stone, bone, ivory, antler, and animal hides. Nomadic people could take very little else with them besides the tools of their daily living; non-utilitarian objects were also carved in miniature so that they could be carried around or worn, such as delicate earrings, dance masks, amulets, fetish figures, and intricate combs and figures which were used to tell legends and objectify their mythology and oral history.

6 months ago

In the 16th century the Inuit began to barter with European whalers, missionaries and other visitors to the North for tea, weapons or alcohol. Items previously produced as decorative tools or shamanic amulets, such as carvings of animals and hunting or camping scenes, became trade commodities. Inuit artists also began producing ivory miniatures specifically as trade goods, to decorate European rifles, tools, boats, and musical instruments. Cribbage boards and carved walrus and narwhal tusks were intended for the whalers. Missionaries encouraged the use of Christian imagery, which was accepted to a limited extent.

5 months ago

Traditionally, the Inuit carved objects for decoration, use in games, religious purposes, or self-amusement. However the nature and functions of Inuit carvings changed rapidly after contact with European and European-Canadian society. This change accelerated after around 1949, when the Inuit began setting into communities, and the Canadian government began to encourage a carving industry as a source of income for the Inuit. The art changed markedly from the form which prevailed in the past, in size, media, motif, and style.

5 months ago

The Government of Canada's encouragement of commercial carving was initially heavy-handed, as is most clearly shown by the pamphlet "Eskimo Handicrafts", circulated among Inuit communities in the early 1950s. Intended to provide inspiration to Inuit sculptors, this pamphlet depicted artifacts in the collection of the Canadian Museum of Civilization; many of the objects pictured, such as totem poles, were not germane to Inuit culture.

5 months ago

James Archibald Houston, the author of Eskimo Handicrafts, was later sent to Baffin Island to collect specimens of Inuit sculpture. During his stay there, he introduced printmaking to the artists' repertoire. Figures of animals and hunters, family scenes, and mythological imagery became popular. By the 1960s, co-operatives were set up in most Inuit communities, and the Inuit art market began to flourish.

5 months ago

Since the early 1950s, when Inuit graphic styles were being developed, some Inuit artists have adopted a polished style rooted in naturalism. Other artists, such as John Pangnark, have developed a style that is highly abstract. Both styles are generally used to depict traditional beliefs or animals.

4 months ago

Stone is an unusual choice for block printing, but its availability and the fact that the printmakers were often carvers familiar with the stone made it a good choice. During the mid-1980s one of the printmakers, Iyola, who owned a pool hall, experimented with slate made for pool tables and since that time this type of slate has been used for printmaking. Prior to that, stone from the region including steatite and talc stone were used.

4 months ago

The final print is a collaboration between the printer/stone carver and the artist. The printer makes some artistic decisions regarding the final product. For example, if the original drawing has a lot of thin lines or intricacies, the printer/carver must alter the drawing in order to make it possible to carve it into stone. Specific aspects of the drawing may be altered in order to fit onto the stone. In one instance the neck of a duck had to be shortened, in another only a portion of the artist's original drawing was selected for reproduction.

4 months ago

Inuit continue to carve pieces entirely by hand. Power tools are occasionally used, but most artists prefer to use an axe and file, as this gives them more control over the stone. The final stage of carving is the polishing, which is done with several grades of waterproof sandpaper, and hours and hours of rubbing. The most common material is now steatite, or soapstone, either deposits from the Arctic, which range from black to light green in color, or orange-red imports from Brazil.

4 months ago

The Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg, Manitoba claims to have the largest collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. In 2007, the Museum of Inuit Art opened in Toronto, Ontario a sure sign of the art form's established place in the world of contemporary art.

3 months ago

Eskimos have elaborate technologies, artisanship, and well-developed art.

Whale bone is often used to make jewelry and masks 
used for decoration or as talisman.

3 months ago



Inuit Birds

3 months ago

3 months ago

Creation Myth



Inuit Myths About Creation

2 months ago

2 months ago

The traditional account of the Inuit people is that the trickster in the form of Raven created the world. 

2 months ago

 When the waters forced the ground up from the deep Raven stabbed it with his beak and fixed it into place. This first land was just big enough for a single house occupied by a single family: a man, his wife and their son, Raven who had fixed the land. 

1 month ago

 The father had a bladder hanging over his bed. After much pleading by Raven the father allowed the boy to play with it. While playing Raven damaged the bladder and light appeared.

1 month ago

The father not wanting to have light always shining took the bladder from the boy before he could damage it further. This struggle is the origin of day and night.

1 month ago

Version 2




In Inuit mythology, Sedna is the goddess of the sea and marine animals such as seals.

1 month ago

 A creation myth, the story of Sedna shows how she came to rule over Adlivun, the Inuit underworld. Sedna is also known as Arnakuagsak or Arnaqquassaaq (Greenland) and Satsuma Arnaa (Mother of the Deep, West Greenland) and Nerrivik (northern Greenland) or Nuliajuk (District of Keewatin, Northwest Territories).

1 month ago

 She is sometimes known by other names by different Inuit groups such as Arnapkapfaaluk (big bad woman) of the Copper Inuit from the Coronation Gulf areaand Takannaaluk (Igloolik).

1 month ago

Other Versions




A number of versions of the Sedna (mermaid) legend exist.

2 weeks ago

 In one legend Sedna is a giant, the daughter of the creator-god Anguta, with a great hunger that causes her to attack her parents.

1 week ago

 Angered, Anguta takes her out to sea and throws her over the side of his kayak.

3 days ago

As she clings to the sides, he chops off her fingers and she sinks to the underworld, becoming the ruler of the monsters of the deep.