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, 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,
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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.