Peoples of the American Arctic


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Describes the life ways and social organization of the Inuite in two different habitats.

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Peoples of the American Arctic

  1. 1. Peoples of the American Arctic Coastal and Inland Inuit
  2. 2. Peoples of the Circumpolar Region <ul><li>Those who adapt to the polar regions in various ways </li></ul><ul><li>The Inuit (Eskimo) of North America and Greenland </li></ul><ul><li>The Aleut of the Bering Strait </li></ul><ul><li>The peoples of Siberia: Chukchee </li></ul><ul><li>The Lapps of northern Scandinavia </li></ul>
  3. 3. Peoples of the American Arctic <ul><li>The primary focus of this section are two Inuit (Eskimo)— </li></ul><ul><li>The coastal Tareumiut </li></ul><ul><li>The inland Nunamiut </li></ul>
  4. 4. Location of the Inuit <ul><li>Eskimo (Inuit) range from western Alaska to Greenland </li></ul><ul><li>Aleut occupy the namesake Aleutian islands of the Bering Strait </li></ul>
  5. 5. Location of the Tareumiut and Nunamiut <ul><li>Dark green shading: The Tareumiut (coastal) and Nunamiut (inland) of the Inupiaq language family </li></ul>
  6. 6. Inuit and Eskimo: Two Terms <ul><li>The term “Eskimo” means “eater of raw meat” </li></ul><ul><li>They were named thus by the Chipewyan Indians—and not intended as a compliment </li></ul><ul><li>The standard term is now “Inuit,” meaning “the people.” </li></ul><ul><li>Local peoples are named with the suffix - miut , which also means “the people.” </li></ul><ul><li>For example, residents living near the Utokak River are known as “Utokagmiut.” </li></ul>
  7. 7. Nanook of the North: A Re-enactment <ul><li>Nanook of the North is another inland band filmed on Baffin Island </li></ul><ul><li>Their hunting, trade, and igloo construction are parallel to the Nunamiut </li></ul><ul><li>The film was largely a staged re-enactment of Eskimo life, filmed by Robert Flaherty in 1922 </li></ul><ul><li>It was not dissimilar to Asen Balikci’s The Netsilik Eskimo which was also a re-enactment, this time filmed in the 1960s </li></ul>
  8. 8. Tareumiut Habitat <ul><li>Habitat: the north shore includes whales, walruses, seals, and polar bears </li></ul><ul><li>Whales are the most highly valued because of the large volume of meat and blubber they yield </li></ul><ul><li>Whalers hunt using large boats led by a umealiq (or “boat owner” (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>Of course, snowmobiles now are used; this one is hauling an umiak (open boat) to the hunting site (lower left) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Tareumiut Villages <ul><li>Because of the high productivity, the Tareumiut form permanent winter villages of 200-300, similar to this one </li></ul><ul><li>Even so, there is a hungry season in which few animals of any kind are available </li></ul><ul><li>As the photo shows, global warming has affected this village </li></ul>
  10. 10. Nunamiut Habitat <ul><li>In summer, the main animals hunted are caribou (a reindeer species) for meat and fox for pelts </li></ul><ul><li>Like the Tareumiut, have a season of abundance, hunting the caribou as groups </li></ul><ul><li>In winter, the Nunamiut hunt in small groups or individually </li></ul><ul><li>Seals are the primary sources of meat and oil for fire and lamps </li></ul>
  11. 11. Social Organization <ul><li>Both Tareumiut and Nunamiut form nuclear families </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis in family relations is control of aggression </li></ul><ul><li>Hunting partners bind one household with another </li></ul><ul><li>There is an obligation to share if one household bags a seal </li></ul><ul><li>Often, this obligation induces families to strike out on their own </li></ul><ul><li>The downside: risk of starvation </li></ul>
  12. 12. Conflict and War <ul><li>Inuit have an incentive to keep aggression under control </li></ul><ul><li>Overaggressive man are ostracized, dangerous in a frozen environment </li></ul><ul><li>Warfare is rare, but has been known to happen </li></ul><ul><li>Issues of conflict: extramarital sex. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Leadership and Politics <ul><li>They have “no bosses on top of each other,” but leaders do emerge when hunting in groups </li></ul><ul><li>Leadership is more advisory; no leader has the power to order people around </li></ul><ul><li>The sanctions of ostracism tend to keep the would-be dominant males in check </li></ul><ul><li>Warfare is almost nonexistent, but has been reported </li></ul><ul><li>The ideal man: “hard working, generous, who has no wish to place himself above the heads of others” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Housing Structures <ul><li>The Tareumiut live in permanent houses constructed of sod—winter or summer </li></ul><ul><li>These houses are spread out along the coast </li></ul><ul><li>The Nunamiut construct geodesic-shaped igloos. </li></ul><ul><li>The tunnel keeps out the cold winds </li></ul><ul><li>Some designs involve a curved entrance tunnel </li></ul>
  15. 15. Inuit Technology <ul><li>Though foragers, the Inuit have a complex technology compared to the !Kung or native Australians </li></ul><ul><li>Much of their technology has been imitated elsewhere </li></ul><ul><li>The parka and muk-luks (boots) effectively resist the cold and have been imitated in industrial societies </li></ul><ul><li>Kayaks, boats with the top closed except for the paddler’s perch, are easily righted if capsized. </li></ul><ul><li>As a geodesic dome, igloos afford low wind resistance, and the ice window provides both light and heat </li></ul>
  16. 16. Nanook of the North <ul><li>For the assignment, observe the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Hunting seal and walrus </li></ul><ul><li>Constructing an igloo </li></ul><ul><li>The composition of Nanook’s family </li></ul><ul><li>Compare the technology and social organization of Nanook’s group with the Nunamiut your book describes </li></ul><ul><li>How does Nanook’s group differ from the Tareumiut? </li></ul><ul><li>You should include these observations in the questions that accompany this unit. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Conclusion: Adaptations in Cold Climates <ul><li>Main differences of Inuit from nomadic bands in the tropics: </li></ul><ul><li>Colder climate requires protective clothing and shelter </li></ul><ul><li>Diet is almost all meat, except during the summers </li></ul><ul><li>Similarities between Inuit and nomadic bands in the tropics: </li></ul><ul><li>Food is subject to seasonal variation </li></ul><ul><li>Groups are small, generally family based bands </li></ul><ul><li>Leadership is informal </li></ul><ul><li>There is an egalitarian emphasis, controlling “upstarts” </li></ul><ul><li>Warfare is rare </li></ul>