People of the Arctic – The Inuit

Image Credit: Flickr User Nationalmuseet , via CC

Akycha is a seven year old Inuit boy who lives in Canada. Inuit are the people who live around the cold arctic region of Greenland, Canada, United States and Russia. In America, Inuit are sometimes referred to as Eskimos, but in Canada and Greenland they like to be called Inuit. Akycha realises that nobody in his family likes to be called an Eskimo as it probably means ‘eaters of raw meat’.

Akycha goes to school in his own community every morning like kids around the world. His favourite subjects are Maths and English. In olden times, when there were no schools Inuit children learned through observing and then imitating.

Image Credit: Flickr User Nationalmuseet, via CC

The knowledge and their native language Inuktitut was passed on from the elders to the younger generation effortlessly. These days kids like Akycha have to make a special effort to learn their language and customs. The first word that Akycha learnt in his native language was ‘Akycha’ meaning ‘the Sun god’. :)

Akycha wears clothes made out of modern day materials like canvas to keep him warm. But sometimes, in winters when it is biting cold he does like to wear clothes and shoes made of animal skin. Animal skin keeps him especially warm! His father tells him that when he was a kid, there were no machine made clothes. In those times, Inuit used to make clothes and footwear by sewing caribou or seal skin together using needles made from animal bones.

Image Credit: Flickr User Toronto Public Library Special Collections, via CC

Image Credit: Flickr User The Daring Librarian, via CC

Every day on his way back home from school, Akycha and his friends come across a peculiar looking human-shaped stone landmark. They call it Inuksuk meaning “something which acts for or performs the function of a person”. They have been told that these stone structures used to serve as landmarks for hunters who would otherwise get easily lost as arctic areas have few natural landmarks. So, Inuksuk were used by them for navigation, as a point of reference or may be a marker for travel routes.

It is a long walk from school to home. Akycha feels very hungry on his return from school. Since crop farming is not possible in the arctic region where Akycha lives, fish and meat is an Inuk’s typical diet. They hunt whales, walrus, caribou, seal, sometimes even arctic fox. But Akycha’s favourite was caribou meat, especially the way his mother cooks it.

In the evening, Akycha loves to play with his furry pets. All four of them were Canadian Eskimo dogs. Sometimes they assisted his father in hunting by snuffing seals out of ice holes. In winters, it was a lot of fun to ride the sled while they pulled it!

Night falls soon and its time for Akycha to sleep. He loves to listen to his Aanak’s (grandmother) stories at bedtime. Today’s tale was about an old Inuit myth about colourful northern lights. The story was about a mysterious night when suddenly a strange creature appeared along with the northern lights. With his eyes shut, Akycha visualised the story scene by scene, and soon slipped away in deep slumber.

What a nice end to a beautiful Inuit day!

 Did you know?

In older times Inuit people had two homes, a summer home-  a tent and a winter home – an igloo. Now they just live in home like we do, except that they do not have water in their taps at all the times. Guess why? In winters they have to get water delivered as the water in the tap freezes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *