Who are the Inuit People?

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Winter is here!

Let’s be honest, how many of us like the cold weather?

Shorter days, temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius. We have barely the will to go out for groceries! We prefer to stay at home with a cup of tea, watching a movie.

However, not all of us find the cold weather to be an obstacle in our daily activities. The Inuit for instance, is a tribe of the Arctic which survived and even thrived while living in subzero temperatures.

The Inuit tribes populated the far north, managing to endure conditions that were far more extreme than any other population had to deal with. How have the Inuit survived for centuries in areas with low light levels for part of the year, extreme wind chills, and temperatures of minus 30 or more?

The Inuit originally migrated from Siberia to Alaska to finally reach Greenland. They were expert navigators using the stars and the sun (when it was available) to direct their way.

These native people settled around the coastal areas, surviving by living off prey including whales, seals, polar bears, musk oxen, birds, fish and reindeer.

Hunting not only provided them with food but also with the many tools and equipment they needed. The Inuit built sleds made from whale bones with skin stretches. The majority of clothing was made from caribou and seal skins, and wearing two layers of clothes was usual during the coldest winter months.

They also had excellent building technology, which helped them to survive in such a chilly environment. Igloos were formed of ice and snow; snow traps air, making it an excellent insulator from outside conditions. Igloos were often warmed with homemade lanterns, fueled by the melted fat of seals and whales. So while outside temps might be -45 degrees, inside the igloo, it could reach 15 to 20 degrees.

This has always been their way of living. However, the Inuits ancient culture has recently come under pressure from the modern world. Their lives are being impacted by numerous environmental organisations that are putting restrictions on their ability to hunt. It’s reported that the restrictions will make life more difficult for the group of hunters that still hunt off the land. Despite their good intentions, these restrictions are threatening the way of living of one of the last remaining indigenous peoples in the world. UNESCO’s World Heritage List is considering adding protections for caribou hunting since it is crucial to the livelihoods of the Inuit and other indigenous groups.

Climate change is also having an impact on the Inuits surroundings. Temperatures increased by up to 5 degrees Celsius over the last 50 years and may rise by another 10 degrees. More glaciers are melting and access to familiar territory and hunting grounds has become unstable, making navigating and travel dangerous.

The good news is that there is increasing awareness of the rights of aboriginal people like the Inuit to preserve their centuries old way of life.

Tribes supports an international movement to protect indigenous communities worldwide. Survival International helps tribes all around the world to protect their land, lives and livelihood. They even contribute evidence to the United Nation to safeguard against possible human rights abuses and offer much needed legal support.

Join us in supporting this committed organisation who continue to provide and voice to the voiceless!

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