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The arctic tundra and the scrub of the Northern forests were the home of this unique and very tough people. In the land of the polar bear, the seal, the arctic fox and of course snow and darkness, these people found a way to live and thrive. They were probably the last of the native groups to immigrate to North America starting about 4,000 years ago and continuing to just before the arrival of the Europeans. They lived along more then 12,000 miles of coastline which extended from Siberia across to Alaska and throughout the Canadian arctic to Greenland.

Their population around 1600 was estimated to be about 60,000. The name Eskimo is derived from the Abnaki people and means 'the eaters of raw flesh" which is what they may have been reduced to do without extensive sources of fuel for fires and cooking.

The two main forms of transportation they used were kayaks made from sealskin wrapped tightly around a frame and smaller sleds which were pulled across the snow by teams of dogs.

They used two main methods for shelter depending upon their area and the seasons. Some would use sod to build small walls around a dug out area with a small pit in the middle for fire. Others would cut snow blocks from the snowfall and build a domed shelter know as an igloo.

The nation consciousness was not as strong as other American groups due to the severe climate not being able to support larger numbers, hence the groups were families or multi-family groups with limited growth potential and passing knowledge of other families in their areas.

They were users of flint blades fro spears, arrows and knives and hunted seals, walrus, fish and whales. They extensively used seals for most of the tools, clothes and other items they required to survive on a day to day basis.  The main exception to this was the increase in numbers of a group when hunting due to the advantageous they could derive from a larger group.

Native Maps




Source:
Reference: www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/eras.html