The Inuit I. Intoduction The Inuit are people that inhabit small enclaves in the coastal areas of Greenland, Arctic North America, and extreme northeastern Siberia. The name Inuit means the real people. In 1977 the Inuit Circumpolar Conference officially adopted Inuit as the replacement for the term Eskimo. There are several related linguistic groups of Arctic people. Many of these groups prefer to be called by their specific tribal names rather than as Inuits. In Alaska the term Eskimo is still commonly used. I. Physical Characteristics and Regional Groupings The Inuit vary within about 2 inches of an average height of 5 foot 4 inches, and they display metabolic, circulatory, and other adaptations to the Arctic climate. They inhabit an area spanning almost 3200 miles and have a wider geographical range than any other aboriginal people and are the most sparsely distributed people on earth. II. History The Inuit share many cultural traits with Siberian Arctic peoples and with their own closest relatives, the Aleuts. The oldest archaeological sites identifiable as Inuit date from about 2000 BC and are somewhat distinct from later Inuit sites. By about 1800 BC the highly developed Old Whaling or Bering Sea culture and related cultures had emerged in Siberia and in the Bering Strait region. In eastern Canada the Old Dorset culture flourished from about 1000 to 800 BC until about AD 1000 to 1300. The Thule Inuit, who by AD 1000 to 1200 had reached Greenland, overran the Dorset people. There, Inuit culture was influenced by medieval Norse colonists and, after 1700, by Danish settlers. III. Language and Literature The languages of the Inuit people constitute a subfamily of the Eskimo-Aleut language family. A major linguistic division occurs in Alaska, according to whether the speakers call themselv…

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