Stories of how the Aboriginal Peoples came to live in the Americas are passed down from generation to generation, mainly by oral communication.
The Inuit thrived in coastal conditions and created techniques to hunt seals and walruses. This development of marine hunting is considered the birth of the Inuit culture. Pre-Dorset is the name given to the earliest Inuit whose existence dated from about 3000 B.C. to 500 B.C. Their culture contained items familiar to later Inuit, such as toggle harpoons, spears and lances. The Pre-Dorset were coastal seal hunters and inland caribou hunters. This group was supplanted by the Dorset people.
The Dorset period lasted from about 1000 B.C. to 1100 A.D. The Dorset people, it is believed, were the original architects of the snow house. They hunted seals, walruses and caribou and possessed weapons similar to those of both the Pre-Dorset and the later Thule culture. The Dorset were displaced by the Thule people, whose culture differed from the previous cultures in two respects. The Thule kept dogs and hunted whales. Whales in fact were the economic mainstay of these people. The Thule were the direct ancestors of the Inuit. The transition from Thule to Inuit culture took place about 1750 A.D.
For more than 5,000 years, the Inuit have lived along the coastal edge and on the islands of Canada’s far north. This area, largely the Canadian Arctic, is often perceived to be one of the most inhospitable regions of the world. Yet, to the Inuit, it is nunatsiaq – the beautiful land. And the lifestyle they developed there attests to the Inuit’s resourcefulness.
The Inuit are often thought to have been nomads, but they didn’t wander aimlessly or unsystematically. They were hunters who led a seasonal existence, for the seasons dictated which animals were hunted and where. Most Inuit spent the winter in snow houses on or near the sea ice along the coast. They hunted sea mammals such as seals, walruses and whales. During the summer Inuit traveled to inland camps where they hunted caribou, fished, caught birds, collected eggs, and gathered berries and herbs. Skin tents provided shelter and could be moved from one location to another.