HISTORY: THE EARLY YEARS
The rich history of the Inuit people is riddled with change and hardship. Although the indigenous people of the land now known as Nunavut are Inuit, the first settlers were not. They were Tuniit. Bringing with them the bow and arrow, the Tuniit were the sole occupants of most of the Canadian Arctic…until 3000 years ago. It was then that the Inuit, adapting life for ice-covered waters, moved from the North Pacific to the Canadian Arctic. Inuit settlements were soon stretched down the coasts of Canada. The Thule culture who settled on the northern coasts of Alaska 1500 to 2000 years ago were first to learn to hunt whales. With their hunting success, the Thule people soon moved eastward, displacing the Tuniit, and as such the Thule people became the first Inuit to occupy the land of Nunavut.
The climate began to cool 500 years ago. Arctic regions once inhabited were abandoned, and hunting practices changed. Inuit hunters quit whale hunting and settled for smaller sea mammals, fish and caribou. While the Thule grappled with changing climate patterns, new European fishermen, explorers, whalers and traders showed great promise in their trading. Therefore, their influence on Inuit culture quickly spread.
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"There was once a world before this, and in it lived people who were not of our tribe. But the pillars of the earth collapsed, and all were destroyed. And the world was emptiness. Then two men grew up from a hummock of earth. They were born and fully grown all at once. And they wished to have children. A magic song changed one of them into a woman, and they had children. These were our earliest forefathers, and from them all the lands were peopled."
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