Inuit

The Inuit used to be called Eskimo. This meant ‘raw meat eaters’, because they often ate raw or frozen meat and fish. The name Inuit means ‘the people’. The Inuit of Canada were nomadic. They lived in small hunting groups and wore clothes made of animal skins and fur. They lived in a part of Canada which is frozen for most of the year. No trees grow there. In winter, the Inuit ate dried fish and fresh seal meat. A hunter waited for hours beside a seal’s breathing hole in the ice. When a seal came up for air, he quickly speared it. In summer, the Inuit fished in the sea or in the rivers, and they hunted the caribou which crossed their land. They gathered berries and plants. It was too cold to grow fruit and vegetables. In the long, cold winters, the Inuit lived in a hut made of stone or whalebone covered with turf, or in a snow house. The snow houses were partly underground. To get into them, the Inuit had to crawl along a tunnel. The home was heated and lit by lamps burning whale or seal oil. In the short summer, an Inuit family lived in a tent made of seal or walrus skins. In winter, the Inuit travelled on sledges, pulled by dogs. in summer, when the ice melted, they walked. They travelled on the water in kayaks. These small boats were made of driftwood and covered with caribou or seal skin to make them waterproof. They were light and could be carried easily. For whaling or transportation, the Inuit used a bigger boat called an umiak.

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