Who are the Inuit

The Inuit - hunters of the Arctic

In order to be able to maintain their traditional way of life as much as possible, the Inuit of Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia already had the in the seventies Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) founded as a separate international interest group. The ICC deals with the problems of environmental pollution, the extinction of marine mammals, the overexploitation of raw materials, but also alcohol consumption among the Inuit.

Control of land ownership is an important issue. According to Canadian legal understanding, land that has no private owner belongs to the Canadian government. This is in conflict with the rights of the indigenous peoples to the areas that they have inhabited and used for centuries. The Inuit have high hopes for the founding of the new Canadian state (= 'our country').

On April 1, 1999, the Northwest Territories are divided into two states along the tree line:

The eastern part, Nunavut, with a population of only 25,000 people, will cover around 2 million square kilometers. The Inuit receive title deeds over 350,000 square kilometers of land, financial compensation, hunting and fishing rights and a greater say in dealing with the land and the environment. It is also planned to limit the jurisdiction of the Canadian legal system to serious crimes in order to use traditional forms of conflict resolution. Another planned innovation, to guarantee a women's quota of 50% in parliament, by electing one man and one woman per constituency, narrowly failed in a recent referendum.

But critical tones can also be heard, from whites who still control administration, teaching and health care, and from Indians. "Some believe that the Inuit cut too large a piece of the" pie ". The Indians, the other original people of this area, would only have a small western piece of the Northwest Territories" (Illustrated Science, Sept. 98). But 85% of the population of Nunavut are Inuit (and another 10% white).

John Amagoalik, Chief of those responsible for building the province Nunavut Implementation Commission, even believes that Nunavut will "lead the way in all the indigenous and minority conflicts of the world". Bushmen from Botswana and Aborigines from Australia have already met in Nunavut's 4,500 inhabitants, Iqaluit, informed.


The Internet is a very good source of information for anyone who doesn't want to travel that far. You will find a lot of interesting information about the Arctic, the animal world, Nunavut, the history and myths of the Inuit, as soon as you have found the first correct pages.

Thankfully, it helped me a lot Jane T. out Iqaluit. Jane told me about life in the Arctic today (see box) and picked out and commented on a number of useful links, which made my search for information a lot easier:

June 11, 1998


You probably know that the Inuit no longer hunt with kayaks and dogs but with motor boats, snowmobiles and off-road vehicles. Many Inuit have a job and only spend part of their time hunting. But at least occasionally everyone goes hunting, out of connection with nature and because the meat is much better than the meat from the shops.

Igloos are still used, even if only during the hunt. The rest of the time people live in houses of rather average quality (in wooden houses with two or three bedrooms).

Through Nunavut, many young and middle-aged people began to be interested in politics. Some older people stand a little apart. Most of the younger ones speak both English and Inuktitut, while the older ones are excluded from many things because they only speak Inuktitut.

Sled dogs are only used occasionally, more as a hobby or for tourists. Because in order to feed the dogs optimally, they must be hunted all year round.

I live in Iqaluit, the largest community and future capital of Nunavut. It has a population of about 4,000 people. There are twelve other communities in the Eastern Arctic, each with between 300 and 1,600 inhabitants. There is less work and more hunting in the smaller communities. A few families prefer the old way of life and live in small groups (1 or 2 families) outside the community. Apart from using modern technology, they really still lead a traditional life.

Jane T. (Original text in English, translated by Günter Cornett)

For all those who want to find out more about life in the Arctic, about Nunavut and the Inuit, I have put an Arctic link list online.

Günter Cornett

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