Published on March 14, 2014 by Amy
The Inuit have a close family life. They always did. They are one of the few of the first people who did not go the way of the white man. They did not always get along, but they learned from the new comers and taught them things as well. Today the Inuit live in their own villages and balance the traditions of the past with the needs of the present.
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The Inuit originally lived in the Arctic Circle. At about the year 1500 they moved to more southern regions where game was more plentiful. Their sphere of influence stretched from Alaska in the west to Greenland in the east. The early Inuit were a nomadic people, following the herds of whales, which were their main source of food.
In 1500, the Inuit migrated south from their homes in the Arctic due to a period of much colder weather which drove the herds of whales south. In 1530 the Inuit first encounter white men, the Basques from Spain. In 1580 the Inuit have first contact with British explorers. Many Inuit died from diseases brought to the new world by the Europeans.
In the latter part of the 16th century, the Inuit became traders, trading furs with Europeans for everyday household items.
In the past, the Inuit lived in igloos, tents and sod houses, accommodations that suited their nomadic lifestyle. Their diet consisted mostly of fat and their clothes were mostly furs from the animals they killed for food. It Inuit of today live in towns and have a lifestyle much like that of their white neighbors in Alaska. For a time, it was hard for the Inuit to keep their traditions alive. The children were sent away to schools where they learned the white mans ways, and the white man’s language. Fortunately, those days are gone and the old traditions and customs are being taught. And the Inuit language is also making a comeback. Today groups of Inuit dancers are bringing their traditions out of the villages to entertain and teach others about the history of the Inuit.
Geography played a huge roll in the development of the Inuit culture and lifestyle. They settled in a harsh and unforgiving land. Unlike other first people who migrated further south, they did not have land that was good for agriculture. They instead became hunters/gatherers. But they adapted to the land and made it their own.
Every culture has an impact on others. The Inuit showed how to hunt and use the whale and even though it is not longer allowed today, at the time it led to a very profitable industry. They also bred the dogs that were to become the huskies that pulled the sleds, the main source of transportation in the frozen north of the past centuries. They made their houses out of snow and that technique is used by campers even today. Knowing how to build a house from snow has saved the lives of campers lost in the snow.