When most people think of Eskimo, they think of parka-wearing, ice house-dwelling, cold region natives who spend much of their time fishing. This is similar to thinking that Native Americans still live in tepees, wear feathers and loincloths, and hunt buffalo from horseback. The only thing correct about that assumption concerning Eskimos is where they live. They are definitely a cold region people whose ancestors survived and made a living in some of the harshest and most unforgiving areas on the planet.
A Little Eskimo History
Eskimos derived from an ancient group of tribes from more than 5,000 years ago. Some of the earliest Eskimo cultures were Pre-Dorset Technology. Eskimos are believed to have evolved in the area now known as Alaska from tribes using the Archaic Small Tools Technology.
The common belief is that Eskimos migrated to the continent from eastern Siberia by crossing the frozen Bering Sea. This probably occurred around 6, 00 years ago but some speculate that Eskimos could have been here as far back as 10,000 years. Many genealogists and historians believe that Eskimos are distantly related to the Koreans, Mongols, and people of northern Asia.
Like other tribes from that time period, early Eskimos were hunter-gatherers. They probably migrated to the North American continent following herds of animals that they hunted as a food source.
Where They Live
Contrary to stereotyping, Eskimos do not live in rounded ice houses called igloos. This is a notion made popular by numerous forms of media such as cartoons and
The word igloo actually means just ‘house’ and doesn’t have anything to do with what it is made out of. At one time Eskimos probably did live in ice houses in some areas in order to survive the winter. But they also use to live in tents and huts made of animal hide.
Today, Eskimos live just like everyone else. They have houses made of modern construction materials and use a variety of methods to keep warm, depending on where they live.
Different Eskimo Groups
There are two main groups of Eskimos: the Inuits and the Yupiks. The Inuits live mainly in northern Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. The Yupiks live in Central and western Alaska as well as eastern Siberian.
The term Eskimo is not used everywhere. It is used to describe the Eskimo people of Alaska and eastern Siberians. The term is accepted for both Yupiks and Inupiats. Alaskans also use the term Native Alaskans to describe themselves. This term covers all Eskimos or native tribes of the region. However, in Greenland and Canada, the term Eskimo is socially impolite or offensive and has been replaced with the term Inuit.
The word Eskimo fell out of favor from folklore and its derogatory use back in the 1970’s. The Canadian Government officially replaced the use of Eskimo with Inuit. However, in Greenland, most Inuits refer to themselves as Greenlanders.
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