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WHO ARE WE?

Inuit (plural: the singular, Inuk, means "man" or "person") is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Alaska, Greenland, and Canada, and Siberia. There has been a remarkable homogeneity in the culture throughout these areas, which have traditionally relied on fish, marine mammals, and land animals for food, pets, transport, heat, light, clothing, tools, and shelter. The Inuit language is grouped under Eskimo-Aleut languages. Inuit and Aleut are considered separate from other Native Americans.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, and even after their arrival since their homeland was so inhospitable, Inuit lived a traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle of subsistence hunting and fishing, with the extended family as the unit of society, their own form of laws passed on through oral tradition, and a spiritual belief system of rituals that were integrated into the daily life of the people. In the twentieth century, particularly in Canada, Christianity was imposed upon them together with a system of law that they did not understand, in an effort to assimilate them into the dominant Western culture. While their shamans are now gone, and they live in modern houses, much of what defines the Inuit has been preserved. The establishment of Nunavut as a separate territory in Canada, in 1999, provided both land and autonomy for a large segment of the Inuit population.




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LANGUAGE

The Inuit mainly speak their traditional language, Inuktitut, but they also speak English, and French. Inuktitut is mainly spoken in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and in some parts of Greenland. The language of the Inupiat in Alaska is Iñupiaq (which is the singular form of Inupiat).
Inuktitut is written in several different ways, depending on the dialect and region, but also on historical and political factors. Some of the Inuit dialects were recorded in the eighteenth century, but until the latter half of the twentieth century, most were not able to read and write in their own language. In the 1760s, Moravian missionaries arrived in Greenland, where they contributed to the development of a written system of language called Qaliujaaqpait, based on the Latin alphabet. The missionaries later brought this system to Labrador, from which it eventually spread as far as Alaska.[5] The Alaskan Yupik and Inupiat (who, in addition, developed their own system of hieroglyphics) and the Siberian Yupik also adopted the system of Roman orthography.
The Inuktitut syllabary used in Canada is based on the Cree syllabary devised by the missionary James Evans. The present form of the syllabary for Canadian Inuktitut was adopted by the Inuit Cultural Institute in Canada in the 1970s.

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Diet


Traditionally, the Inuit have been hunters and fishers. They hunted, and still hunt, whales, walruses, caribou, seals, polar bears, muskoxen, birds, and at times other less commonly eaten animals such as foxes. While it is not possible to cultivate plants for food in the Arctic, gathering those that are naturally available has always been typical. Grasses, tubers, roots, stems, berries, and seaweed were collected and preserved depending on the season and the location.[11][12] The typical Inuit diet is high in protein and very high in fat: in their traditional diet, Inuit consumed an average of 75 percent of their daily energy intake from fat.[13]
Anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson lived with a group of Inuit, observing that the Inuit's extremely low-carbohydrate diet had no adverse effects on Stefansson's health, nor that of the Inuit.[14] Stefansson also observed that the Inuit were able to obtain the necessary vitamins from their traditional winter diet, which did not contain plant matter. In particular, he found that adequate vitamin C could be obtained from raw meat such as Ringed Seal liver and whale skin. While there was considerable skepticism when he reported these findings, they have been borne out in other studies.[15]

Where We Come From


An Inuit Creation Story


This story is about Sedna, the Inuit goddess of the sea.
The Inuit (Eskimos) depend on the sea for food, so no god or goddess is more important to them.

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At the beginning of the world there were giants.
They lived on the land and ate the fruits of the land. One year, as the days began to get shorter and colder, a baby girl was born to two of the giants. They named her Sedna.
Day by day, as the sun became weaker and smaller, Sedna grew stronger and bigger. She grew and grew very quickly until, in no time at all, she was huge. Soon she was bigger than her giant parents.
The bigger she got the more she ate and the more she needed to eat, but there were not enough plants on the land to satisfy her hunger. One night, ravenously hungry, she began to gnaw her parents legs.
‘Owww!’ they cried, ‘that's enough of that.’ With a great struggle they bundled Sedna up in a blanket and carried her to their canoe. It was dark but they paddled out to sea in the light of a hazy moon. When they reached the middle of the ocean, they pushed Sedna overboard into the icy waters.
And that, they thought, was that. They started to paddle back towards the land, shivering for the cold and also for shame at what they had done to their own daughter. Yet before they had gone far, the canoe stopped - no matter how fast they paddled, the canoe would not move forward. To their horror they saw two hands, Sedna's hands, reaching out of the water to grip the canoe and then to rock it from side to side.
The giants felt the boat shaking. Soon they would be tossed into the ocean they would surely drown, unless they did something quickly.
Simply to save themselves, they pulled out sharp knives and chopped off Sedna's fingers. One by one the fingers splashed into the sea and, as they sank, they changed into swimming creatures. One became a whale, one a seal, another a walrus, another a salmon. The fingers changed into all the creatures of the seas.
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As for Sedna, she drifted through new shoals of fish to the bottom off the ocean. There the fishes built her an underwater tent. Above her, the cold waters formed a crust of ice and sealed Sedna in her wintry, watery world. She still lives there, and whenever the Inuit are short of food, they call on Sedna and she provides it, even in the depths of winter.


HOW DO WE LIVE

Industry, art, and clothing


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 is a major part of Inuit history. Small sculptures of animals and human figures were made out of ivory and bone usually depicting everyday activities such as hunting and whaling. Beautiful carvings, decorated with fur and feathers, were often used in religious rituals. At ceremonial dances, masks representing the spirits of animals and the forces of nature were worn; face masks by the men, and finger masks by the women.[4]
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 in essence made in a similar fashion by Arctic peoples from Europe through Asia and the Americas, including by the Inuit. In some groups of Inuit the hoods of women's parkas (amauti, plural amautiit) were traditionally made extra large, to protect the baby from the harsh wind when snuggled against the mother's back. Styles vary from region to region, from shape of the hood to length of the tails. Boots (kamik or mukluk) could be made of caribou or sealskin, and designs varied for men and women.
Certain Inuit also lived in temporary shelters made from snow in winter (the igloo), and during the few months of the year when temperatures were above freezing, they lived in tents made of animal skins and bones.

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INUIT TRADITIONAL THROAT SINGING



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==Traditional Beliefs
==
Some Inuit believed that the spirits of their ancestors could be seen in the northern lights
Some Inuit believed that the spirits of their ancestors could be seen in the northern lights
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Some Inuit believed that the spirits of their ancestors could be seen in the northern lights



Inuit religion was closely tied to a system of rituals that were integrated into the daily life of the people. These rituals were simple but held to be necessary. The harshness and randomness 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. 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. To offend a spirit was to risk its interference with an already marginal existence.

===Mythology
While the dominant religious system of the Inuit today is Christianity, many Inuit still hold to at least some elements of their traditional religious beliefs. Some see the Inuit as having adapted traditional beliefs to a greater or lesser degree to Christianity, while others would argue that it is rather the reverse that it true: The Inuit have adapted Christianity to their worldview.

INUIT ECONOMY


Today, Inuit work in all sectors of the economy, including mining, oil and gas, construction, government and administrative services. Many Inuit still supplement their income through hunting. Tourism is a growing industry in the Inuit economy. Inuit guides take tourists on dogsled and hunting expeditions, and work with outfitting organizations. About 30 percent of Inuit derive part-time income from their sculpture, carving and print making.
The settlement of land claims in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Northern Quebec has given the Inuit money and a framework to develop and expand economic development activities. New emerging businesses include real estate, tourism, airlines and offshore fisheries.

Inuit Today

Inuit continue to maintain their unique culture within their distinct homeland. Despite modern influences and conveniences, Inuit have retained their language, core knowledge and beliefs.
Family is the foundation of Inuit culture and the family is surrounded by a larger social network that includes the rest of the community, even the region. Inuit families are large and interconnected as intricate bonds are formed through childbirth, marriage and adoption.
Carving
Carving

Since the 1970s and early 1980s, satellite television and radio signals have brought world events and popular programming into Inuit homes. DVDs, video games and Internet access are also widely available. Organized sports play a large role in local recreation, as do movie theatres and fast food outlets. Despite all of the modern amenities, however, thousands of years of tradition still shape the nature of the communities.
Hunting is still one of the most important aspects of Inuit culture and lifestyle. Despite the availability of store-bought food, Inuit continue to rely on country foodas a source of nutrition and clothing.
Inuit cherish their youth, elders and the generation between them. Elders are given the utmost respect in any community because of their knowledge and wisdom, which they in turn teach to younger generations. Their continuous contribution has kept the Inuit tradition alive.
Many families leave permanent communities during the spring and summer to set up camps. This is an important part of Inuit tradition. Far from modern distractions, the young are immersed in their language, developing their skill and helping to ensure the long-term survival of the culture.