Beautiful collection of old photographs capturing the everyday life of the Inuit

Paul Pinkerton
 
 
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Inuit are the indigenous peoples who have traditionally inhabited the northern circumpolar region from eastern Siberia (Russia), across Alaska (United States), Canada, and Greenland.

While since the late 20th-century numerous indigenous people viewed the use of the term “Eskimo” as offensive, because it was used by people who discriminated against them, in its linguistic origins the word did not have an offensive meaning. Alternative terms, such as Inuit-Yupik, have been proposed, but none has gained widespread acceptance.

In Canada and Greenland, the term “Eskimo” has fallen out of favor as pejorative and has been widely replaced by the term “Inuit”, “Alaska Natives”, or terms specific to a particular tribe. However, under U.S. and Alaskan law (as well as the linguistic and cultural traditions of Alaska) “Alaska Native” refers to all indigenous peoples of Alaska.

The term “Alaska Native” also includes groups such as the Aleut, who share a recent ancestor with the Inupiat and Yupik groups, and also includes the largely unrelated indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and theDene, who descend from other, unrelated major language and ethnic groups.

A line of Eskimo men are pictured between 1900 and 1930 while wearing various shades and patterns of animal furs as protection. Library of Congres. Lomen bros
A line of Inuit men are pictured between 1900 and 1930 while wearing various shades and patterns of animal furs as protection. Library of Congress. Lomen bros

 

An Eskimo child, 1929
An Inuit child, 1929

 

An Eskimo Family building an igloo, 1924. Library of COngres
A Family building an igloo, 1924. Library of Congress

 

Inuit child in fur
Gorgeous!

 

 

An Eskimo man enjoying some music on a record player, 1922
An Eskimo man enjoying some music on a record player, 1922

 

Eskimo Berry Pickers. The picture was taken near Nome, Alaska in the early 1900's.
Eskimo Berry Pickers. The picture was taken near Nome, Alaska in the early 1900’s.

 

family portrait of an Inupiat Eskimo mother, father, and son.
family portrait of an Inupiat Eskimo mother, father, and son.

 

Inuit on kayak
Inuit on kayak

Several earlier indigenous peoples existed in the region. The earliest positively identified North American Inuit cultures (pre-Dorset) date to 5,000 years ago.

They appear to have developed in Alaska from people related to the Arctic small tool tradition in eastern Asia, whose ancestors had probably migrated to Alaska at least 3,000 to 5,000 years earlier. Similar artifacts have been found in Siberia that date to perhaps 18,000 years ago.

The Yupik languages and cultures in Alaska evolved in place (and migrated back to Siberia), beginning with the original pre-Dorset indigenous culture developed in Alaska. Approximately 4000 years ago, the Unangan culture of the Aleutbecame distinct. It is not generally considered an Inuit culture.

Approximately 1500–2000 years ago, apparently in Northwestern Alaska, two other distinct variations appeared. Inuit language became distinct and, over a period of several centuries, its speakers migrated across Northern Alaska, through Canada, and into Greenland.

The distinct culture of the Thule people developed in northwestern Alaska and very quickly spread over the entire area occupied by Inuit people though it was not necessarily adopted by all of them.

Inuk Woman poses over an ice fishing hole, several successful fish seen at her left-hand side
Inuk Woman poses over an ice fishing hole, several successful fish seen at her left-hand side

 

Ola,Eskimo Girl.Edward S. Curtis.
Ola, Inuit Girl.Edward S. Curtis.

 

A man from the Umingmaktormiut, an Eskimo tribe that before Rasmussen's visit had never been described or photgraphed.
A man from the Umingmaktormiut, an Eskimo tribe that before Rasmussen’s visit had never been described or photographed.

 

Iñupiat woman, Alaska, circa 1907
Iñupiat woman, Alaska, circa 1907

 

A man sits back in a frozen field while reading a copy of the Saturday Evening Post in 1913
A man sits back in a frozen field while reading a copy of the Saturday Evening Post in 1913

 

A seal hunter is seen walking on land, his snow shoes helping him easily slide across the frozen land
A seal hunter is seen walking on land, his snow shoes helping him easily slide across the frozen land

 

The inside of an Eskimo hut lined with wood and animal skins in 1916 is seen
The inside of an Inuit hut lined with wood and animal skins in 1916 is seen

 

Three Eskimo children are seen seated side by side, their hoods removed to reveal smiles and playful eyes despite the cold climate otherwise adapted to by the locals
Three Inuit children are seen seated side by side, their hoods removed to reveal smiles and playful eyes despite the cold climate otherwise adapted to by the locals