By Gabriella A. Massa    (http://www.popolidelghiaccio.it)

The Arctic of North America is inhabited by peoples whom until quite recently Europeans called “Eskimos”. This name has been partially replaced in recent years with “Inuit” (“Inuk” in the singular), a term with which the populations that inhabit the Canadian Arctic like to define themselves. The Greenlanders refer to themselves as “Kalaallit”, while the other autochthonous peoples of Alaska and the Beringia (east and west of the Bering Straits) continue to be called “Eskimos”. This term, which refers to the Arctic peoples who speak the languages of the Eskimo-Aleut family, means “those who speak a foreign language”, and not “eaters of raw flesh” as was thought until not so long ago. In recent years the name “Inuit” has been wrongly used as the general term to identify not only the indigenous populations of Alaska, Canada and Greenland, but also the autochthonous groups of Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland that live around the Polar Arctic Circle. The Inuit (in the Inuktitut language this word means “the people”, “men”) live in the circumpolar zones of the Beringia (former Soviet Union and Alaska), Canada and Greenland. The geographical extension occupied is beyond 140 degrees of longitude, situated between the 55th and 80th parallels. For example, Nunavut, the administrative region created on 1 April 1999 from the subdivision of the Northwest Territories, occupies 1,994,000 square kilometres of surface area, one fifth of Canadian territory (9,980,000 square kilometres); Nunavik or Arctic Québec has 800,000 square kilometres of surface area, three fifths of the total area of Québec, that is, more than 135 square kilometres per person. There are around 100,000 Nunavimiut, the Inuit who live in the Arctic. In Nunavut there live around 30,000 and in Nunavik around 10,000. The first archaeological discoveries The archaeology of the Arctic dates back to the 1920s. The archaeological research, based on the interpretation of the “traces” left in the ground from previous populations and on the study of the material recovered in it, has provided new instruments for gaining an understanding of the Arctic. During the brief Arctic summer, the archaeological excavations conducted annually, often under extreme conditions (cold, rain, wind, insects, etc.), enableuseful information to be gathered on the groups who historically populated the Circumarctic zones,  leaving archaeological traces and finds that are useful for understanding their culture. From the point of view of knowledge of the populating of the area, the archaeological finds complement—and sometimes disprove— the findings of the older European and North American scientific research expeditions, aimed mainly at collecting information on climate, environment, land and marine biology, ethnology and anthropology. The first archaeological research in the Eastern Arctic dates back to 1921, on the occasion of the “Fifth Thule Expedition” by Tharkel Mathiassen in the region of Repulse Bay (Keewatin Region, Canada), during which he began excavations in the prehistoric sites of the area, attributing the name of “Thule”, from the region where some characteristic finds had been made, to the culture he discovered. In almost the same period, Diamond Jenness (1925) received a collection from Cape Dorset (Baffin Island, Canada) containing some Thulean articles and numerous artefacts belonging to a previous, very original culture, which was called “culture of Cape Dorset”, or “Dorset culture”.  Since then, much progress has been made and in the last twenty years the archaeology of the Siberian, North American and Greenland Arctic has contributed to improving knowledge on the cultural relations between the various populations, the economy, the technological systems and the demographic history, defined as the “Arctic small tool tradition”, a term invented around forty years ago by William Irving. This expression designates the taxonomic unity and historical links shared by many cultures of the Holocene (the second part of the quaternary period of the Cenozoic area—around 10,000 years ago), identified in the archaeological research in Alaska (Denbigh Complex), Canada (Pre-Dorset) and Greenland (Independence I and Saqqaq), so called from the names of the places where the archaeological finds that characterise them were made. The information gathered annually during the excavation campaigns conducted by Arctic researchers constantly provided new information on the initial stages of human development in the northern territories of Europe, Asia and America. For example, the recent discovery of deposits from the Lower Palaeolithic in Siberia has raised interesting questions and issues on the various phases of man’s adaptation to the extreme conditions of life in the Arctic desert, on the development of human cultures and their disappearance following changes in climatic conditions, on the origins and travels of the first hunters who returned periodically to those zones, favoured by the warmer climate of the Pleistocene.1

 

The first cultures of the North American Arctic: Denbigh and Dorset

Today the majority of archaeologists are in agreement in affirming that the first Paleoeskimo migration to populate these areas originated from the region of the Bering Strait.2 During a glacial phase, around 8-10,000 years ago, groups of hunter-gatherers, native to Siberia, crossed the Bering Strait with their families in pursuit of the mammals of large dimensions that moved onto the territory in search of food. These groups gave rise to the Denbigh culture (Bering Strait, Alaska) and are the ancestors of the last wave of the prehistoric populating of America that, around 5-6 millennia ago, colonised the Arctic coasts of Alaska and, in around 2300 BC, gradually settled on the islands and on the coasts of the Canadian Arctic, arriving as far as Eastern Greenland. The new migrants were at the origin of the Dorset culture (500 BC – 1000 AD), and triggered an important process of cultural and economic change, which culminated in around 500 BC. The Dorsets practised a semi-nomadic way of life, essentially based on hunting and fishing, and from animals obtained not only food, but also the raw materials to produce what they needed to survive. Their clothing was made exclusively using animal skins, cleverly cut, solidly sewn and elegantly decorated. Due to its impermeability, sealskin was used during the rainy season to protect the tent and to manufacture clothes used during activities requiring contact with water. Warm bear fur or insulating caribou fur were used mainly in winter, both to make warm clothes for the hunters and as covers inside the dwellings. Hunting and fishing were regulated by rites and taboos deriving from their animistic conception of the world. For instance, with the Netsilik (“seal people”), when a seal or another animal was captured, the hunters used to melt some snow in its mouth; this became water, and the seal was symbolically given a drink, to thank it for sacrificing its life to allow the survival of the humans. This spirituality, still identifiable today in the objects produced by the Inuit, is documented by sophisticated, delicate sculpted ivory, horn and animal bone artefacts, brought to light by the archaeological excavations. Presumably the work of specialists, perhaps the shamans (angakuk), intermediaries between man and the spirit world, the small human representations and the miniatures of animals (seals, walruses, bears, fishes, birds) were used as amulets. The tips of harpoons and the other stone tools used in hunting and fishing had decorations and incisions that call to mind magicaland propitiatory rites. The Dorsets were distinguished by their perfect adaptation to the environment, by their new technologies and by their permanent winter settlements. The archaeological evidence from the sites of the Dorset period testifies to an occupation of the desert lands of the North American Arctic, from Alaska to Greenland, through traces of settlements with structures and delicate artefacts.3

The archaeological research shows that the Dorset dwellings were essentially of three types: with a simple oval structure, with a bilobate structure with axial development, and with a simple circular structure with a small entrance. During the summer season, the external spaces around the dwelling were used for shared activities, as is proven by the numerous traces of fuel, and for the production of tools, an activity that took place near the entrance door or the dwelling structure. From the domestic waste and traces of fuel recovered in the majority of the Dorset sites, the conception of the interior space indicates a subdivision of the interior environment into two parts: the area communicating with the outside, presumably used for activities requiring the use of tools, while the limited number of discarded objects seems to indicate that the interior area was reserved exclusively for repose. We do not know with any certainty whether the ancient Dorsets were the same people that today’s Inuit, the descendents of the emigrant Thuleans who arrived in Canada in the 11th and 12th centuries, known as the Tunit. After over thirty generations, they still relate legends that talk of the Tunit, described as a tall, strong and tenacious people, and testify to interactions between the Thuleans and an ancient people, presumably the last descendants of the Dorsets. The people of the ancient Dorset culture adapted very successfully to an extremely harsh climate and their culture developed for around two thousand years, conserving its own characteristics intact. In around 800 AD, their culture began to decline, following a further cooling of temperatures, the effects of which altered the distribution of animals over the territory

and made their survival increasingly difficult. We do not know whether they were assimilated, exterminated or outcast to marginal zones where they died out due to lack of resources, but in around 1000 AD the populations of Dorset came to a dramatic end and, between the 11th and 15th centuries of our era, were gradually replaced by “Neo-Eskimo” groups also coming from Alaska, bearers of a so-called “Thule” culture.

Thule culture

The first Thulean immigrants coming from Alaska in pursuit of seasonal prey possessed new forms of economy; they were experienced hunters, skilled in hunting sea mammals, which they pursued in large sealskin boats, around 10-15 metres long, called umiak. To move by sea along the coast, they also used the kayak (a single-seat sealskin boat), inside which they loaded everything necessary for hunting and some supplies of food.

On snow and ice, their means of transport was the sled (komatik) pulled by dogs. Their culture was also characterised on the material plane by igloos, long hunting crops, harpoons with mobile heads complete with a float, called avatak, lances, hunting and fishing tools. They manufactured weapons for hunting: the snow knives (panak, savik) made of bone, ivory or smoothed slate were used by the men; the knife used for cutting skins (ulu), scrapers and some instruments for sewing were used by the women. We must also mention the bow drill for lighting fires, for manufacturing everyday tools and hunting small land animals, the spectacles invented as protection from the reflections of the sun on the snow and pottery, which they learned to bake, with limited success due to the lack of fuel available. During the winter, they lived on dry land, near the sea, surviving thanks to the supplies of food that they had procured by hunting whales and seals. The small family groups occupied large half-buried houses covered by a structure composed of whalebones, stone and clods of peat. It is from the remains of these dwellings that the most significant and best preserved archaeological finds belonging to the Thule culture originate; the collapse of the walls and roofs of these constructions has in fact preserved numerous fragile artefacts, sealing them inside the permafrost. Between the 12th and 14th centuries, small groups of Thuleans left Baffin Island and headed along the coasts of Hudson Strait and Bay, to then migrate towards the coasts of Québec and Labrador; other groups, travelling along the coasts of the Canadian Arctic archipelago, headed towards the coasts of Greenland, crossing Nares Strait. In Greenland they came into contact with the last Dorsets, almost two centuries after the settlement in this area of the first Viking farmers back in 985. This contact, moreover, has had limited documentation in history. The long climatic deterioration that began towards the mid-13th century, which culminated with a minor glaciation (from the mid-16th century to the mid-19th century), was presumably the cause of the decline and extinction of the Viking presence in Greenland and contributed to creating conditions for the transformation of Thule culture into the historical Inuit culture. Because of the almost perpetually frozen ice pack, the whalers stopped their seasonal migrations in the Canadian Arctic archipelago and the Inuit were forced to move to follow the animal migrations. Seals and caribou became their main source of sustenance. The pottery technique was abandoned in favour of soapstone for manufacturing containers and oil lamps (called kullik in Canada and unakrit in Greenland). When the whales began to decline in numbers, the Inuit resumed their nomadic life, the semi-buried dwelling was abandoned for a simpler model, consisting of a house (karmak) with more solid walls and skins covering the roof, or else they constructed a simple snow igloo in winter and a tent made of hide during the summer. Some groups began to spend the winter directly on the ice pack, hunting the seal through holes made in the ice; others remained inland following the caribou. The so-called “Caribou Inuit” are the most well known; they were very poor: not knowing how to make and keep fire, they led a very tough life and suffered considerably from hunger and cold. In around the 16th century these groups came into contact with white men, the qallunaat or “men with bushy eyebrows” coming from Europe, gradually becoming dependent on the resources that the new arrivals brought to trade and becoming settled starting from the second half of the 20th century. Contact with the qallunaat’s social institutions prompted the Inuit to live in a sedentary manner once again, as they had done in the period preceding the Thule culture. This led to an improvement in living conditions, increasing the annual growth rate of the Inuit population, but it also partially caused the loss of the ancient wisdom and ancestral traditions. Before becoming settled, the Inuit were a nomadic people that were self-governing, living on hunting and fishing in small egalitarian groups. The respect for the traditional rules was ensured, flexibly and informally, by relations created within the group, with pressure to guarantee behaviour that was not contrary to the collective interests. Their spiritual life, governed by the shamans, focused on the existence of supernatural entities with the appearance of both humans and animals, interrelating with each other: all the beings that made up the visible world—not only the animals, but also the trees and plants, stones, elements—were endowed with an immortal spirit and special powers that were used to punish those who had shown contempt for or wasted the resources offered by nature. The Inuit feared spirits such as the malignant and spiteful tupilek, the ningak, fighting spirits or the dangerous turngaaluk. Many taboos touched the primary aspects of their daily lives and explained the presence of a natural and supernatural world with a rich mythology.4 Inuit oral tradition tells that, at the beginning of the universe, day did not exist and only certain rare animal species populated the earth, but this was not important because men did not know how to hunt. Differences did not exist between men and animals: they understood each others’ languages; they could marry and have offspring. The differences were gradually accentuated, until man discovered hunting: thus animals became the hunter’s main prey. The world of the occult was also very rich with female characters: the best known and most important was Sedna, the goddess of the ocean and sea mammals.5 Still today, stories are the favourite form of the Inuit people: through oral culture they transmit their historical memory with its roots in faroff ages.

The Inuit’s rhythm of life was closely tied to the seasons: in the Eastern Arctic, during the summer months, small groups composed of one or two families would travel to find a location that guaranteed hunting and abundant fishing. At the end in the summer, all the groups would meet up again to feast, trade and arrange the marriages that would consolidate the bonds between the various nuclear families. In winter, the basic group would be joined by other relatives and their prevalent activity was seal hunting. This was a period of intense relationships: the families that had the best relations settled close together or built a large igloo, which they shared. Inuit society was substantially egalitarian, without hierarchies or formal authorities, based on freedom of choice, until this was harmful to the other members of the group. Cooperation was essential for the survival of all. For example, for bear hunting a large number of hunters was essential and success depended on cooperation between the men; likewise, when an individual had hunted unsuccessfully, it gave him a sense of security to know that, if need be, his neighbours could share their reserves. A society founded on competition would therefore have simply been inappropriate and harmful; it would have caused tensions and provoked the separation of the group, decreasing the possibilities of survival through the winter. The migrations at the origin of the two waves, Paleoeskimo  and Neoeskimo, to populate the Arctic, at a distance of a few millennia, are noteworthy both due to the immensity of the distances travelled, and to the rapidity with which these distances were covered. The most recurrent explanation is generally attributed to the warming of the climate, which supposedly extended the territories of certain species hunted by these peoples, increasing their resources, with consequent demographic growth and territorial expansion. Whatever the reasons were for these migrations, the history of the Eskimo populations (this term is used in the study of prehistory to characterise the different cultures that adapted their way of life to the North American Arctic) testifies to a great flexibility in adapting to the environmental resources to be obtained from the animal species available, such as sea mammals, fishes and birds.

The Inuit today

The Inuit today descend from the last migration of the Thule people (1000–1600), who remained in semi permanent settlements on the East coast of Hudson Bay, where they lived thanks to the abundance of the produce of the sea. Archaeological research highlights that the Inuit’s current way of life cannot be used as an exclusive model for the interpretation of the culture, economy or social organisation of these ancient groups.6

Their Thulean common and recent origin may explain the linguistic and cultural affinity of today’s Inuit, from North Alaska to Greenland, passing through Canada. This unity was then fractured following sedentarisation, with a consequent adaptation to the local environment and with the birth of new regional dialects with exogenous linguistic influences: a divergent historical and political development.7

In effect, with intensifying contacts with the whites, the culture of the Inuit began to change and adapt to the new realities, but it was in around the 1950s and 1960s that the pressure to modify their traditional way of life to suit qallunaat culture increased dramatically. The Inuit started to become settled, forced to make this choice due to the drastic reduction of animal resources and particularly because of the reduction of the caribou

numbers over the territory, which had caused serious problems for the survival of many groups. The sedentary life favoured access to the market of products from the south, as well as facilitating health care and school attendance. For a long time, despite the pressure of the overwhelming “culture of the men with bushy eyebrows”, the Inuit attempted to continue living according to the values of their tradition, which still today they intend to keep alive.8

Currently the Inuit almost always live in communities located near the mouth of a river, close to hunting zones and external waterways. Their communities (fourteen in Nunavik and twenty-six in Nunavut) have landing strips, tiny airports, local cooperatives, small museums9 and churches

belonging to the various faiths.10 These venues have become the core around which the population is gathered together. Although the distances between the communities are several hundred kilometres, air connections11 have ended their isolation and the ease of communication has enabled their socio-political bonds to be consolidated, even arriving, in Nunavik, at the creation of a regional government, recognised, in 1989, by Canada and Québec, followed ten years later by the birth of Nunavut, the thirteenth administrative region of the Canadian Confederation, with its capital Iqaluit. Furthermore, thanks to telecommunications, the Inuit have fitted into the Canadian reality and have created an economically autonomous society. Within the space of about fifty years, the Inuit have moved from the Stone Age to the age of advanced technology. They have created cooperatives, which are the main source of employment for the Inuit of Canada.12 Local cooperatives are established in the heart of every community and the life of the Inuit is structured around them. The Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau Québec (FCNQ), which brings together the autochthonous cooperatives of Arctic Québec, and Arctic Cooperatives Limited, the equivalent body in Nunavut, have created a common structure, called Tuttavik (meeting place), the precursor of a Panarctic umbrella organisation for all the cooperatives of the Canadian Arctic. These cooperatives are also the means through which the Inuit manage the distribution and export of their sculptures worldwide. Though adapting to new technologies, these peoples have remained profoundly linked to the environment that surrounds them. Thanks to their skills and their resistance, they have learned to live in harmony with a violent nature and to appreciate its resources: the region christened by the Europeans as “Barrenlands”, is today still called Nunatsiaq (“the beautiful country”) by them. The name Nunavut means “our land”, and the Inuit of Québec call their land Nunavik, that is, “land to live on”.

 

NOTES

Etudes/Inuit/Studies, PUL, vol. 27, no. 1–2, 2003, pp. 130–53; Y.

Labrèche, “Habitations, camps et territoires des Inuit de la région de

Kangiqsujuak-Salluit (Nunavik)”, Etudes/Inuit/Studies, PUL, vol. 27,

no.1–2, 2003, pp. 155–90; G. Mary-Rousselière, Nunguvik et Saatut.

Sites paléoesquimaux de Navy Board Inlet, Ile de Baffin, Commission

Archéologique du Canada, no. 162, MCQ, 2002; G.A. Massa, “Antiche

tradizioni e vita quotidiana del popolo Inuit”, Il Polo (quarterly journal

of the “Silvio Zavatti” Polar geographical institute), Fermo, year LVII,

vol. 4, December 2001 and year LVIII, March–June 2002 (triple number);

G.A. Massa, “Il Popolo Inuit”, Il Polo, Fermo, year LV, vols. 2–3,

June–September 2000, pp. 35–42; M.S. Moreau, Prehistory of Eastern

Arctic, Academic Press, Orlando 1990; R. McGhee, Ancient People

of the Arctic, UBC Press, Vancouver 1996; R. McGhee, Canadian Arctic

Prehistory, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa 1990; C.

Pinard, “Un alignement de pierres peut-il être un nangissat

paléoesquimau?”, Inuit Studies, PUL, vol. 27, no. 1–2, 2003, pp.

111–29; P. Sutherland, “Variability and chance in Palaeo-Eskimo architecture:

A view from the Canadian High Arctic”, Etudes/Inuit/Studies,

PUL, vol. 27, no. 1–2, 2003, pp. 191–212.

3 The archaeological excavation of the Dorset site GhGk-63, along

the East coast of Hudson Bay, has unearthed an important stone tool

collection associated with numerous dwellings. The spatial analysis of

the lithic objects and bones recovered, associated with the architectural

structures, has enabled us to understand the distribution of the external

and internal spaces of the habitat. This has led to an improved interpretation

of the architectural structures in a well dated Dorset context.

The overlapping of numerous stratifications for the same dwelling

spaces has made the interpretation of the distribution of objects difficult,

but it has nevertheless been possible to identify and bring to

light three Dorset-type structures. Cf. P.M. Desrosiers and N. Rahmani,

“Analyse spatiale et architecture du site dorsétien GhGk-63 (Kuujjuaraoik,

Nunavik)”, Etudes/Inuit/Studies, PUL, vol. 27, no. 1–2,

2003, pp. 130–53. The Arpik site (JhEv-12) on the island of Qikertaaluk,

Whitley Bay, along the south coast of the Hudson Strait, characterised

by an alignment of stones 60 metres long, with a configuration

of rocks arranged in a circle at each end, was discovered in 1996 and

excavated in 2001. Normally these alignments, positioned at strategic

points, were used to convey the caribous during hunting, or to form a

small barrier (saputit) useful to catch the anadromous fishes to be

found in the shallow water. From the archaeological excavations and

from the artefacts found, it emerges that the Arpik site was occupied in

a pre-Dorset period, at the east and west extremities of this alignment.

Later the site was reworked to form a long line of stones used as

nangissat, that is, for the stone-to-stone jumping games, partly cancelling

out the traces of previous occupation. Traces are found of this

type of game, played widely throughout the Arctic, from Siberia to

Greenland. Cf. C. Pinard, “Un alignement de pierres peut-il être un

nangissat paléoesquimau?”, Etudes/Inuit/Studies, PUL, vol. 27, no.

1–2, 2003, pp. 111–29. The nature and causes of the geographical and

temporal variations of the architectural traces of Paleoeskimo occupation

of the extreme Canadian Arctic are mainly due to local factors.

Three structural features: the fireplace in the shape of a box, the axial

development and the elongated dwelling represent a system of elements

in space and time, characteristic of Paleoeskimo society, of

which the variations in form and distribution reflect the social processes

and historical events. Cf. P. Sutherland, “Variability and chance in

Palaeo-Eskimo architecture: A view from the Canadian High Arctic”,

Etudes/Inuit/Studies, PUL, vol. 27, no. 1–2, 2003, pp. 191–212.

4 S. Zavatti (editor), Il corvo bianco: miti e leggende, Herodote, Ivrea

1982; S. Zavatti, Racconti eschimesi. Miti e leggende dei popoli iperborei,

Guida, Naples 1974.

5 Sedna, so-called by the Eskimos of Baffin Island, is also called Avilayoq

or Uinigumissuitung. The Igloolik Eskimos call her Takanaluk Arnaluk;

the Netsilik: Putulik; the Caribou Eskimos: Pinga. These names

referred to Sedna, goddess of the ocean, creator and mother, but with

lesser powers.

6 The ethno-archaeological research conducted in Nunavik (Arctic

Québec) between 1985 and 1995, with the collaboration of the Inuit of

Kangiqsuajuaq and Salluit, enabled numerous ecological zones to be explored

(coasts rich in estuaries, bays, islands, great lakes, rivers, highlands).

The Cartesian analysis of the archaeological data, combined with

the historical data (population density, intensity of human occupation,

use of resources, comparisons and contrasts between the coast and

the hinterland) has demonstrated how indispensable it is to add to traditional

knowledge with archaeological research, data collection, the

analysis and interpretation of traces and remains using various spatial

scales: structures, sites, sectors and regions. Such research has also

shown that the Inuit dwellings, the place names and archaeological sites

of Nunavik are well anchored in the collective memory for numerous

generations. Cf. Y. Labrèche, “Habitations, camps et territoires des

Inuit de la région de Kangiqsujuak – Salluit (Nunavik)”, Etudes/Inuit/

Studies, PUL, vol. 27, no. 1–2, 2003, pp. 155–90.

7 Yvon Csonka, De la préhistoire au XXIe siècle dans l’Arctique central et

oriental canadien, in Les Inuit de l’Arctique canadien, CIDEF-AFI,

Québec 2003.

8 Tamusi Qumak, the Inuit socio-political leader, scholar and linguist,

has recently published a dictionary of the Inuit language, the result of

long years of research; besides the translation, the book also contains

the definition of every word. Also by the same author are numerous collections

of Inuit legends and stories. In 1980, the elders of the 14

communities of Arctic Québec wanted to create a collection, made up

of objects gathered from families and others specially made for the occasion

with the intention of presenting an exhibition in all the Inuit

communities to tell of and spread their culture with the young generations

and to compare it with the other Arctic populations. From

Canada, in fact, the exhibition has been presented in Siberia, in Novosibirsk,

subsequently twice at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris and in other

important ethnographic museums in Europe. The “Inuit People. Art

and Eskimo Life in North-Québec” exhibition, organised in Italy by the

Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, directed by the

writer and colleague Valeria Dotto, was presented at the Museo

Nazionale della Montagna in Turin in 1995; in 1999 and 2000 it was

displayed in Courmayeur-Punta Helbronner (3462 metres above sea

level), in Florence and Naples. We thank Maurice Achard, commissioner

of the exhibition, and Michel Noel of the Ministère des Affaires

Autochtones, for the precious collaboration provided during

these years, on the occasion of the presentation in Italy.

9 The first Inuit museum was opened in Povungnituk and was created

by Tamusi Qumak. The “Avataq” Cultural Institute, exclusively administered

by the Inuit, is responsible for gathering the testimonies and

stories of the elders. It is also the depositary of the traditions, ancient

techniques of clothing manufacture, utensils, weapons and the ancient

knowledge on medicinal plants, etc.

10 The Inuit are very religious; in some communities, alongside the

ancient rites, various Christian faiths are practised: Anglican, Catholic,

Presbyterian, Jehovah’s Witnesses.

11 The Air Inuit airline company, owned by the autochthonous peoples,

controls flights over the whole territory of Nunavik.

12 The main activities are: distribution of artistic and handicraft works,

organisation of warehouse storage, identification and management of

fields for hunting and fishing, management of hotels and restaurants,

distribution of oil products, work in the field of building construction,

computer science, telecommunications.

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