Inuit - Kinship System Essay

Submitted By cgaudette
Words: 866
Pages: 4

Inuit of the Artic Inuit formally known as “Eskimos” have been around for some eight thousand years and are still a part of this world today. They are indigenous people who live in the coldest environments in the world, in the Artic regions. So what is their secret that allows them to be successful for years upon years as far as hunting, shelter, food, clothing, and the relationships among each other? The Inuit are known for their unique way of life in a culture so different from what we know as well as the relationship between individuals, also known as a kinship system. Kinship involves how people classify each other, the rules that affect people’s behavior and people’s actual behavior. (Nowak & Laird, 2010, 4.5)

The Arctic is a very extreme place, requiring a great deal of cooperation and community commitment for successful survival. (Who are the Inuit People?) The environment they live in is thousands of miles of freezing cold desert along the coast of the Arctic Circle from Russia, Alaska, and northern Canada to Greenland. The reason for them living along the coastlines is because it makes sense economically. Since the Inuit live in such a severe environment they “looked to the land and sea, the winter and summer, the appropriate hunting and domestic technologies for living.” (Effland) This is known as a foraging society, and they are considered modern-day hunters. There is little to gather during the Arctic’s long winter, so men’s hunting activities provide nearly all food and other material items the people need. (Nowak & Laird,
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2010, 3.2) However, in the summer, berries and roots supplement their diets. (Nowak & Laird, 2010, 3.2) As you can see it is important for the Inuit to work together and cooperate in or to survive.

A network created through marriage known as exogamy, is well defined in the Inuit society. (Effland) According to Levi-Strauss’ (1969) Marriage Theories in Cultural Anthropology, exogamy is defined as “members of a band marry outside their band (exogamy), and upon marriage the couple lives with the groom’s band.” (Nowack & Laird, 2010, 3.7) Partnership is also an important characteristic of the Inuit society created with people other than close relatives, but ones that you can rely on and trust with your life, usually consisting of a team of twelve men. The reason they don’t choose family is because they already share their food supply with their family. They expand their social network through their food sharing. Senior men generally took charge of decision making such as these. (Effland) Both older men and women commanded respect from the younger members of the group. (Effland) Living in such a close knit society takes a lot of will power and respect with the “bands” considering they have to put their lives in one another’s hands.

Compared to the society I live in, it’s not as different as it used to be. People still refer to the Inuit as the “Stone Age” because they use stone tools; they are becoming more globalized,
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but are still a little different. Surprisingly though, while I live in the somewhat city life of Charleston, SC, to date the Inuit society has had obvious changes. For transportation they have ATVs, cars, motorboats, and snowmobiles. Electric tools have replaced traditional…