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THE INUIT of the Arctic Regions Of Canada, Greenland, Russia & Alaska

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Author Topic: THE INUIT of the Arctic Regions Of Canada, Greenland, Russia & Alaska  (Read 7750 times)
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« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2009, 07:20:14 pm »

The Norse may not have been alone on the island when they arrived; a new influx of Arctic people from the west, the Late Dorset culture, may predate them.

However, this culture was limited to the extreme northwest of Greenland, far from the Norse who lived around the southern coasts. Some archaeological evidence may point to this culture slightly predating the Norse settlement. It disappeared around 1300, around the same time as the westernmost of the Norse settlements disappeared. In the region of this culture, there is archaeological evidence of gathering sites for around four to thirty families, living together for a short time during their movement cycle.

Around 1200, another Arctic culture, the Thule, arrived from the west, having emerged 200 years earlier in Alaska. They settled south of the Late Dorset culture and ranged over vast areas of Greenland's west and east coasts. These people, the ancestors of the modern Inuit, were flexible and engaged in the hunting of almost all animals on land and in the ocean, including big whales.

They had dogs, which the Dorset did not, and used them to pull the dog sledges; they also used bows and arrows, contrary to the Dorset. Increasingly settled, they had large food storages to avoid winter famine. The early Thule avoided the highest latitudes, which only became populated again after renewed immigration from Canada in the 19th century.

The nature of the contacts between the Thule, Dorset and Norse cultures are not clear, but may have included trade elements. The level of contact is currently the subject of widespread debate, possibly including Norse trade with Thule or Dorsets in Canada or possible scavenging of abandoned Norse sites (see also Maine penny). No Norse trade goods are known in Dorset archaeological sites in Greenland; the only Norse items found have been characterized as "exotic items". Carved screw threads on tools and carvings with beards found in settlements on the Canadian Arctic islands show contact with the Norse. Some stories tell of armed conflicts between, and kidnappings by, both Inuit and Norse groups.

The Inuit may have reduced Norse food sources by displacing them on hunting grounds along the central west coast. These conflicts can be one contributing factor to the disappearance of the Norse culture as well as for the Late Dorset, but few see it as the main reason. Whatever the cause of that mysterious event, the Thule culture handled it better, avoiding extinction.
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