Inuit People

.. ter or a lost person as a temporary shelter. A really big igluvigagcan be made for several families, with separate rooms. Most snow houses had a low entranceway through which people could enter, shaking off the snow before they would come into the living area. Many had adjoining structure that could be used a meat locker or for their dogs.

Windows were made out of large blocks of ice. Smoke from the cookfires, which were in the living area, would exit through a small hole at the top of the snow house. Due to the combined body heat, cookfires, and lamps it could get warm enough that the Inuit people could remove their clothing. But due to this happening, the snow houses were good only for a few weeks. Then the Inuit would build another one.

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In warmer months they would use whatever materials were available to build shelter. The Greenlandic Inuit used whale ribs like beams for the tents in warmer months. Rocks were used to secure the bottom of the tent. Having little or no wood to waste, Inuit had to resort to other methods of getting warm. Bird nests were used sometimes for kindling for the fires but more often Arctic heather was gathered in the warmer months. This heather was valued for its inflammable resin. The Inuit women would constantly tend to a soapstone lamp filled with seal oil.

This lamp was called a Qulliq. The Inuit are not fond of the cold, but their physical features are built to with stand the cold. Their stature has evolved as short, wide bodies that keep body temperature close to the core, rather than allowing it to be wasted through the surface areas of the limbs. What is rather interesting is the fact that they have many more blood vessels in their hands and feet – as compared to other ethnic groups. This allows them to use their hands and feet freely even when exposed to the Arctic’s cold temperatures of 40 below.

But facts are that they even could not survive the Arctic if it wasn’t for their use of Arctic animals. For thousands of years, Inuit have known which animals are best for different kinds of clothes in different seasons, as well as to how to sew them to keep them windproof and to maximize insulation. The Inuit made most of their clothing from the fur of Caribou. Even in today’s time, a well-made caribou parka is better than any man made variety. Caribou hair has been discovered to contain thousands of microscopic chambers – like honeycomb – each of which traps and retains the warm air.

The difficult living conditions were reflected in Inuit relationship with nature and the supernatural. The Inuit believed that the souls of men and animals would be transformed from one life to another, or one species to another. The rituals that would surround these beliefs were very complex and difficult to understand. When the Inuit would hunt or fish, these activities were separated. The Inuit would wear different garments during these activities and also use different weapons.

They would eat caribou and seal on different days. Trapped animals were killed and their souls were given thanks for the success of the hunter. An animal soul was believed to pass to another animal, which would offer itself again to the hunter. The Inuit believed in life after death, and that the human life force (a part of which also dwelt in animals) was indestructible. Death shed no enlightenment – the spirit possessed the same personality and knowledge as the person in life. In icy or snowy conditions, the Inuit would leave the dead were they lay, if inland or placed into the water if along the coast.

If rocks were available, the Inuit would cage in the body (cover) it with the rocks to keep out scavenging animals. The dead, were always wrapped in caribou skins before being left. In spite of very difficult living conditions, the Inuit were very hospitable and happy people and their communal life was filled with warmth and friendship. Inuit had no gods – only lots of spirits of greater or lesser power, and these might be avoided through ritual, but were never praised or worshipped. Most Inuit people did not like the idea of spirits, which could be blamed for lots of nasty things. They tried not to talk about them, for it was believed that such activities attract spirits. Spirits were almost always evil.

The only people that made spirits their business were shamans. These shamans had a whole arsenal of spirits to do their bidding. One of the reasons, why Christianity made such a big impression with Inuit is that the missionaries immediately saw a good thing in the traditional Inuit fear of spirits. The missionaries promised that Jesus could drive away spirits on behalf of anyone who was Christian, so the Inuit jumped right in. The missionaries were not very popular with the shamans, who often tried to kill them. The supernatural has always exclusively been the province of shamans- not common people. Most Inuit today are proudly Christian.

One of the most important facts I have learned about the Inuit was the fact that they are not considered Indians. According to the references I used, states they are not even closely related. Experts have stated that all the Aboriginal Peoples of North and South America are descended from the Ice-Age migrants that crossed from the Siberian Chuckchi Peninsula (Asia) to the Alaskan Seward Peninsula on the Bering Land Bridge. It is thought that thousands of different cultures now known as Indians are descended from the first migrants. It has been stated that the latest arrivals came by boat rather than foot, and they are direct descendants of the Inuit. Ancestors of genetic testing and language arts and anthropology have shown Inuit to be unrelated to Indians in all ways of culture, language, and physical appearance.

Inuit have much more in common with the Siberian People. Inuit have traditional dances, and all the ceremonies use a drum. They also have short songs, which also sometimes accompanies a game. No such music was ever a form of worship. The Inuit would only use music for their own personal entertainment.

There are several different Inuit languages, all of which are close enough that speakers of one can usually understand those of another. There are dozens of different dialects – which differ in pronunciation and structure. The language of the Eastern Arctic is Inukitut. This language uses symbols to represent different sounds. Missionaries working in Labrador and on Baffin Island developed a system, which was inspired by Pittman shorthand. Before Confederation in 1949, Inukitut was the language of daily life, and children were educated in their language.

Inuit art is beautiful. They made sculptures, jewelry, baskets, tapestries, dolls and clothing. Most of their carvings were made in whale-bones, walrus tusks, and soapstone. Religion.