Eskimo Life

Eskimos: group of people inhabiting the Arctic land of Canada; Green land and United States now live in much developed community. They do not accept the term Eskimo for them the meaning of which is raw flesh eaters rather they call them Inuit the meaning of which is a people. Inuit are a group of culturally similar people who occupy most of the Arctic areas. A person belonging to Inuit community is called Inuk.

The appearance of Eskimos takes us 1000 AD back when they appeared from Alaska and spread towards the eastern land. They kept on moving and wandering for the climatic factors somewhere and at some places, they found themselves much weaker than the native people. However, mostly it was for the formerly described factor that Eskimos could not stay or reside at one place. They shared many cultures as to the land where they lived yet Eskimos have their own traditional and predominant culture which makes them different and does not let them to live like a native. They have a complete hierarchy of structure and mechanism through which they work and spend their lives. It was late in 1935, that the Canadian government recognized their existence.

Eskimos speak the dominant of the dialect or the regional language of the land where they do reside. However; they do have their own language known as Inuktitut. As far as the speaking of term Eskimo or Inuit is concerned; there is one technical difference in both. Eskimo universally addresses all the Yupik and Inupiat while Inuit does not encompass Alaskan and Siberian Yupik people and is specifically used for Inupiat people. So, universally speaking Eskimo is the word used for these people. The Yupik languages are linguistically different from the Inupiat languages.

The culture of Eskimos is very traditional and famous for which they are known. Their housing, their food and clothing; all are different from the natives of the lands. The first thing is that Eskimos do not build their houses on permanent scales. It is not like that once a house is built so; it is must for an Eskimo to spend the rest of life in it. No, sometimes their houses are constructed even for a night. This is because they run after their hunt and stray where it takes them.

However the summer and winter shelters are different in the type of the material; they are built with. In summer the housing may be of seal skins, shells or anything like this. While in winter it is preferably made of the material which can prevent them from the intense and severe cold. Eskimos bear more coldness and can survive in colder regions as compared to the natives. They can beat the atmosphere and are used to bear the hardships of the weather. One can say that this is their inborn ability to survive in the atmospheres of severe natures.

The second major constituent of Eskimo culture is their tools. They have very specified tools which are technically developed and show the evolution also knocked at Eskimos doors. The very sharp harpoons, knives, arrows, bows, buckles, swords and many others are the special tools of Eskimos which are the pride of their clan. These tools are different in nature and shape when compared with the common ones.

As far as the domestic life of Eskimos is concerned, they are very strict in the division of labor between the two sexes. Men are for building of houses and women are meant to take care of these houses. No replacement has ever taken place in this division. Eskimos live in groups of several families; this group may have as many as hundred people. A family has a husband, a wife, unmarried children, married sons with their wives. Eskimo children are considered a treasure and they are very rarely punished. There has never been any slapping or scolding. But it does not mean that they are spoiled.

There are no laws in Eskimo life. They believe in conducts and simply follow two basic principles.

  1. Everyone should help the other.
  2. Everybody must live peacefully with others.

The chief or lord of the tribe is the man who can take the responsibility of the provision of food for the clan. It does not mean that the rest of the men sit idly and do nothing. No, they all work in groups yet in the supervision of the chief. The obedience of their chief is compulsory on all of them and no one deviates from his rules and regulations. The single punishment of disobedience is death. Except the extreme personal things; nothing is personal among Eskimos. Their religion is believed and based on the rich mythology with shamanism.

Mostly they depend on the sea mammals for their diet and hunt sea animals for getting stuff. It was the fortunate that the eating of raw flesh was disapproved by the Native Americans and it was left for Eskimos to have food with essential elements which cooking would destroy. So, it was Eskimo life which kept them rowing in freshwater and rowing in the distant lands.

The clothing of Eskimos is dependent on animal skins. The favorite of there is caribou skin. In its absence it can be the skin of polar bear or of a seal. The fact of wearing caribou is that it is warm and light weighted to carry.

In winter two layers are used. The inner layer has the fur next to skin while the outer layer has the fur outside. The air between the two layers keeps the body warm and help in breathing. The clothing sets consist of a hooded jacket, trousers foe legs and a covering.

Today the population of Eskimos is nearly 57,000 in United States. In Canada they find labor and earn wages. They work with their guns which are especially designed by them. Though Eskimos are still treated as inferior community and are far from enjoying the basic facilities provided by the state, yet they are people of hard work and find their way through their struggle.

By Ammarah Khan

    

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