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Inuit carving of a person

Inuit carving of a person

Inuit (INN-oo-it) people lived mainly by hunting seal and walrus and by fishing, and by gathering wild berries and roots like parsnips. They couldn’t just eat fish because fish don’t have enough fat in them, so they needed to catch seal too. They also gathered seaweed to eat. To hunt seal, people used little seal-skin boats called kayaks that only one person could sit in. People also had bigger boats, called umiak, for transporting people and things from one village to another.

They also used dog sleds to get from one village to another over land. Because there wasn’t much wood where they lived, or much good stone, people made most of their tools out of bone, especially walrus ivory. They built houses out of whalebone. They traded a little with people in East Asia for bronze belt-buckles and iron and steel knives.

As in other parts of the world in the Middle Ages, people were often hungry because they didn’t have enough food. Sometimes Inuit people attacked other Inuit villages to steal their food. Some towns got rich because they had good locations for trading with East Asians. But people also entertained each other with songs, music, dancing, and stories.

Learn by doing: go out and pick some wild berries
More about the Inuit

Bibliography and further reading about Inuit history:

Later Inuit history
Chinook people
Blackfoot people
Native Americans
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