Inuit


               
                The Canadian Arctic is one of the coldest and harshest environments in the world. Also it is one of the most remote places in the world. Imagine long, cold winters, very little sunlight during a year, freezing fierce storms, and a treeless barren landscape. During winter all one see as long as eyes can reach is snow. When the snow melts, the ground is rough and rocky. Fighting with the tough weather and harsh environments, the Inuit people have survived in the Arctic for thousands of years.
The word "Inuit" means "the people," but the Europeans called them Eskimos. Eskimos is the Cree name for Inuits.


                       Very rarely or never will you find a plant or tree in the freezing Arctic weather. Hence, the Inuit people's food was entirely animal, and fish. The diet changed from caribou to fish to walrus depending on how far they lived. Slow cooking was the most common method of cooking. A soapstone hanging all the time above a lantern provided fresh, hot food all the time. Inuits were considered to be one of the healthiest group of people. Following the arrival of Europeans, the eating habits changed which has brought many health issues. The establishment of trading posts brought sugar, vegetables, tea, and coffee to the people who were used to only meat and water. Nowadays, Inuits and other people living in the Canadian Arctic- Nunavut and Northwest territories- depend on frozen food supplied through ships and airplanes from the mainland.

                        Inuits hunted on the land and in the sea for food. There were more than enough animals such as deer, caribou, seal, walrus, bow head whale, and arctic fox. During summer they traveled long distances on foot to hunt caribou and deer. Living in extreme cold required warm clothes. At the same time they had to suitable for an active life. Men's and women's clothing were designed differently. They were equipped with hoods to protect head and face from cold weather and wind. Unlike other native tribes, the Inuit clothes were very well tailored. Clothes were made of animal skins sewn with animal sinew, and needled made of ivory or bones.

                    Just like the prairie tribes were faced with a crisis after the near extinction of buffaloes, Inuits also suffered from the European invasion. Bow head whales were hunted on large scale for meat and whale oil. Today, bow head whale is a protected animal. Caribou and other animals were hunted for skin, and horns. Inuits faced problems with meeting their food and other needs. They were forced to look for unfamiliar ways of life to meet their needs. During this fight, they lost so much of their cultural identities and customs. Today, along with other native tribes, Inuits are rediscovering their rich and unique heritage, and are in the process of rebuilding their communities based on these knowledge and values.
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