Inuit Tribe Facts
The Inuit are an indigenous people that live in the far north of Canada. There are around 51 Inuit communities that live in Inuit Nunangat.
Innuit means “the people” in Inuktitut language.
An Inuit person is called an Inuk. Nunangat is the land they live on.
There are eight main Inuit ethnic groups. These are: the Labradormiut (Labrador), Nunavimmiut (Ungava), Baffin Island, Iglulingmuit (Iglulik), Kivallirmiut (Caribou), Netsilingmiut (Netsilik), Inuinnait (Copper) and Invialuit or Western Arctic Inuit (who replaced the Mackenzie Inuit).
There are also five main dialects, or languages.
Inuit Nunangat is actually made up of four regions in total. The name Inuit Nunangat is what the four regions are called.
Innuit Nunungatis a Canadian Innuit word which means land water and ice in the artic region.
These things ,land water and ice, are seen as very important by Inuit peoples to their way of life and their culture.
Innuit lands are huge! They cover 35% of Canada’s total land mass. Canada is 3.855 million square miles!
This means their territory is over one million square miles. It also covers half of Canada’s coastline.
The Inuit hunt caribou, whale and seals. They hunt on the land and the sea. They use spears, bow and arrows, clubs and stone traps.
Knives are used to cut through meat and also snow. Ulu is the name of a special knife the Inuit use.
The Inuit would not waste any of the animal and use the furs and skins for special clothing to keep them warm in the cold Artic conditions. They would eat the meat.
The Inuit had to be very skilful fishermen. Some Inuit still hunt and fish in traditional ways but many Inuit live in cities or other places now.
Some Inuit eat a mixture of bought and hunted food these days, of course.
Explorers invade Innuit culture
The Inuit have lived along the coastlines for thousands of years.
There have been people living in the Artic regions for around 4,000 years but the present-day Inuit have lived there since about 1050 CE.
There have been lots of changes and lots of arrivals.
In the eleventh century, the Norse arrived in Innuit lands.
Following this, traders, explorers, whalers, missionaries and scientists have all been present on Innuit land, sometimes at great cost to Innuit cultures and ways of life.
Inuksuk and Inunguaq: stone figures
The Inuksuk (Inuksuk) are like giant sculptures made from piled stones. Inuksuk means “to act in the capacity of a human.”
This means that the stones act much like a human being would if the stone figures were actual human beings.
So, these stone human beings communicate with the Innuit peoples on hunting trails. They are helpful stones, helping the Inuit find their way. They sometimes mark where food is hidden.
They could also be a warning to change direction. Stones could almost work like arrows, too.
For example, if a hunter lost a seal he had killed in shallow water, he might point two stones in the direction of the lost seal for his hunting partner to collect later on.
They also are spiritual guides and reflect that Inuit ancestors and other living Inuit look out for each other and know how to survive on their land.
Inuksuk are normally two stones one on top of the other. They are very often mistaken for stone figures called Inunnguaq which means in “likeness of a human”.
These stone figures have stone arms, legs and heads. These figures are more symbolic than practical.
They are traditionally constructed by the Innuit but you can also see them around Canada, where many people have recreated these types of figures.
Modern-day Innuit and self-determination
Self-determination means to rule yourself or, at the least, have a say in how rules are made that affect your community.
Inuit peoples were often left out of discussions about civil rights of native peoples of the Americas.
Since the 1970s, Inuit peoples have been fighting very hard to be treated fairly, to rule themselves and also to protect the land they and their ancestors have lived on for thousands of years.
What does the word Inuit mean?
What fraction of Canada’s coastline do Inuit live on?
What do Inuit use to hunt?
What figures do Inuit make?
What do these help with?