Inuit

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Eskimo

Eskimo (ĕsˈkəmō), a general term used to refer to a number of groups inhabiting the coastline from the Bering Sea to Greenland and the Chukchi Peninsula in NE Siberia. A number of distinct groups, based on differences in patterns of resource exploitation, are commonly identified, including Siberian, St. Lawrence Island, Nunivak, Chugach, Nunamiut, North Alaskan, Mackenzie, Copper, Caribou, Netsilik, Iglulik, Baffinland, Labrador, Coastal Labrador, Polar, and East and West Greenland. Since the 1970s Eskimo groups in Canada and Greenland rejected Eskimo as offensive and used the name Inuit, although the term has not taken hold in Alaska or Siberia.

In spite of regional differences, Eskimo groups are relatively uniform in language, physical type, and culture, and, as a group, are distinct in these traits from all neighbors. They speak dialects of the same language, Eskimo, which is a major branch of the Eskimo-Aleut family of languages. Their antiquity is unknown, but genetic testing of ancient human remains in North America that they are relatively recent migrants to the Americas from NE Asia, spreading from west to east beginning about 1,000 years. By about 1300 A.D. their ancestors, known as the Thule culture, had displaced the earlier inhabitants of North American Arctic. The earlier inhabitants, known as Paleo-Eskimos but genetically unrelated to to modern Eskimos, had first migrated into North America 6,000 years ago.

Eskimo Life

Traditionally, most groups relied on sea mammals for food, illumination, cooking oil, tools, and weapons. Fish and caribou were next in importance in their economy. The practice of eating raw meat, disapproved of by their Native American neighbors, saved scarce fuel and provided their limited diet with essential nutritional elements that cooking would destroy. Except for the Caribou Eskimo of central Canada, they were a littoral people who roved inland in the summer for freshwater fishing and game hunting.

Eskimos traditionally used various types of houses. Tents of caribou skins or sealskins provided adequate summer dwellings; in colder seasons shelter was constructed of sod, driftwood, or sometimes stone, placed over excavated floors. Among some Eskimo groups the snow hut was used as a winter residence (see igloo). More commonly, however, such structures were used as temporary overnight shelters during journeys. The dogsled was used for the hauling of heavy loads over long distances, made necessary by the Eskimos' nomadic hunting life. Their skin canoe, known as a kayak, is one of the most highly maneuverable small craft ever constructed. Hunting technologies included several types of harpoons, the bow and arrow, knives, and fish spears and weirs. While iron and guns came into common use in the 20th cent., previously weapons were crafted from ivory, bone, copper, or stone. Their clothing was sewn largely of caribou hide and included parkas, breeches, mittens, snow goggles, and boots. Finely crafted items such as needles, combs, awls, figurines, and decorative carvings on weapons were executed with the rotary bow drill.

Eskimo Culture

Particularly when compared to other hunting and gathering populations, Eskimo groups were justly famous for elaborate technologies, artisanship, and well-developed art. They lived in small bands, in voluntary association under a leader recognized for his ability to provide for the group. Only the most personal property was considered private; any equipment reverted through disuse to those who had need for it. In the traditional Eskimo economy, the division of labor between the sexes was strict; men constructed homes and hunted, and women took care of the homes. Their religion was imbued with a rich mythology, and shamanism (see shaman) was practiced.

Contemporary Life

Eskimos in the United States and Canada now live largely in settled communities, working for wages and using guns for hunting. Their mode of transportation is typically the all-terrain vehicle or the snowmobile. The native food supply has been reduced through the use of firearms, but, as a result of increased contact with other cultures, the Eskimo are no longer completely dependent on their traditional sources of sustenance. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 granted Alaska natives some 44 million acres of land and established native village and regional corporations to encourage economic growth. In 1990 the Eskimo population of the United States was some 57,000, with most living in Alaska. There are over 33,000 Inuit in Canada, the majority living in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, N Quebec, and Labrador. Nunavut was created out of the Northwest Territories in 1999 as a politically separate, predominantly Inuit territory. A settlement with the Inuit of Labrador established (2005) Nunatsiavut, a self-governing area in N and central E Labrador, and another agreement called for establishing a self-governing area, Nunavik, in N Quebec in 2009, but Nunavik residents rejected the proposed arrangement in 2011. There are also Eskimo populations in Greenland and Siberia.

Bibliography

See U. Steltzer, Inuit: The North in Transition (1985); A. Balikci, The Netsilik Eskimo (1989).

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Inuit (Eskimo)

(dreams)

In 1976, Joseph Bloom and Richard Gelardin conducted a study of the dreams of the Eskimo (Inuit) people in which a ghost or a spirit appeared. They noted this occurred most often when the dreamer was just falling asleep or just waking up. They were unaware of the widespread occurrence of hallucinating while in a state of semi-arousal and sleep paralysis. They recognized the Inuit experiences as nightmares and linked their sleep paralysis to Arctic hysteria, labeling both as “non-empirical.”

Dreams are an integral part of the Inuit shamanic tradition and are closely associated to the initiatory calling; dreams of dismemberment, death, and rebirth are thought to be a calling to the dreamer to become a shaman. In other instances, they are called, in the dream, by an animal spirit who possesses the dreamer. The dreamer then awakens and proceeds to wander naked through the wilderness, grappling with the spirit for control of the body. Eventually, the dreamer will gain control over the spirit—a victory they mark by the making of a drum—and once again return to their people and start the training as a shaman initiate.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

Inuit

, Innuit
any of several Native peoples of N America or Greenland, as distinguished from those from Asia or the Aleutian Islands (who are still generally referred to as Eskimos); the preferred term for Eskimo in N America
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Indeed, his chief task is to refute what Dickens referred to scoffingly as the "Esquimaux kettle-stories," and in Voyage McClintock does this by not acknowledging them at all (HW 245 [1854], 365).
Skiles & Company, and upon fulfillment of their contracts, the Inuit were to receive $100 per family with living and traveling expenses covered by the concession company ("Esquimaux Quit the Village," Chicago Daily Tribune, April 21, 1893, 1).
"The Six Species of Men, with Cuts Representing the Types of Caucasian, Mongol, Malay, Indian, Esquimaux and Negro.
Harrington, a telegraph worker at the Western Union construction camp near Teller, wrote The Esquimaux longhand, binding it with bent pins and releasing it Oct.
The defilement of the formers' individual identities is only a step removed from the debasement of the social body perpetrated by the rituals of the "singular tribe or cult of degenerate Esquimaux" who practiced "a curious form of devil-worship" (Dunwich 135) or of New Orleans' "men of very low, mixed-blooded, and mentally aberrant type"--"negroes and mulattoes, largely of West Indian or Brava Portuguese from the Cape Verde Islands"--who were members of the "blackest African voodoo circles" (Dunwich 139).
from the Esquimaux, Labrador and North Western tribes of Indians, direct from the Indian traders; also beautiful moccasin work from the Conewaga, St.
Then Barnum turns to "communities of Dwarfs and Pigmies" such as Esquimaux, Lapplanders, and African pigmies.
"The Lord has given languages to the unlearned, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Zulu and languages of Africa, Hindu and Bengali and dialects of India, Chippewa and other languages of the Indians, Esquimaux, the deaf mute language, and, in fact, the Holy Ghost speaks all the languages of the world through his children." (10)
If you're game, test the Fonogenic waters with female-fronted indie folk-rock band Esquimaux, or Universal Hall Pass, a one-woman show that sounds like a dreamy Portishead soundscape with Bjork- and Fiona Apple-like vocals.
This farcical "foreign financier," who was "by way of being a philanthropist on megalomaniac lines," wanted money "to run a railway across Greenland" (45), with the intent of "letting light in upon a dark spot of the earth" (46, 65, 117) with the help of British investors and the support of the British Government, even though some "mistaken persons had insinuated that the Systeme [Groenlandais] was neither more nor less than a corporate exploitation of unhappy Esquimaux" (121, 136-38).