Not many people would want to live in the Arctic areas of northern Canada, Alaska, and Greenland. In these places, the summers are very short, and the winters are extremely
cold and dark. However, there are some people who have made this land their home for many generations. These people are called the Inuit. The word “Inuit” means “person” in the language of the Inuit, which is called Inuktitut.
Before modern times, the Inuit had to survive by hunting. Because their homeland was in such a cold, northern place, the Inuit could not make a living by farming or by gathering plants. Many of the animals that the Inuit hunted are mammals that live in the water. For example, the Inuit used boats to hunt whales. Also, they hunted seals by waiting for the seals to rise to the surface of the water. Sometimes, the Inuit would hunt land mammals, such as polar bears.
When eating the meat of the animals they had hunted, the Inuit often ate the meat raw. This was necessary because only raw meat could provide them with enough nutrients to survive in a place where fruits and vegetables were not available. In previous times, the Inuit were known as the “Eskimos,” which means “people who eat raw meat.” However, the Inuit did not like this name.
The Inuit invented many useful tools for surviving in the cold, northern areas. They sewed warm clothing from the furs and skins of the animals they hunted. For transportation, they used dogs, which could pull them in sleds across the snow. For making heat and light, they used lamps that burned the fat and oil of whales.
The Inuit were famous for their houses made of snow, which were called igloos. The igloos were made by cutting blocks of snow and then using these blocks to build a small round-shaped house. People could enter or exit the igloo through a narrow tunnel.
In recent decades, the Inuit have had much contact with the modern world. Inuit children now attend schools, and Inuit adults work at a variety of occupations. In some ways, the Inuit have found it difficult to adjust to the changes from their traditional ways, but the Inuit are meeting this challenge. In Canada, there is a new territory in the far north, called Nunavut, where most of the people, including the leaders, are Inuit.
The Inuit are famous for their beautiful artwork. In particular, Inuit carvings or sculptures are known for their excellent quality. These carvings, which nowadays are made from a kind of stone called soapstone, depict people or animals such as bears, seals, or whales. In addition to paintings, Inuit artists have produced beautiful sketches and paintings of northern scenes.