About the Greenlandic Inuit

History

Greenlanders or Greenlandic Inuit (Greenlandic: kalaallit) are the indigenous peoples of Greenland and citizens of Denmark, most of whom speak Greenlandic and consider themselves to be of Greenlandic ethnicity.

Approximately 80% of Greenland’s population of 56,483 is Greenlandic Inuit. Ethnographically, they consist of three major groups:

the Kalaallit of west Greenland, who speak Kalaallisut
the Tunumiit of Tunu (east Greenland), who speak Tunumiit oraasiat (“East Greenlandic”)
the Inughuit of north Greenland, who speak Inuktun (“Polar Eskimo”)

Historically, Kalaallit referred specifically to the people of Western Greenland. Northern and Eastern Greenlanders call themselves Avanersuarmiut and Tunumiit, respectively.

Today, most Greenlanders are bilingual speakers of Kalaallisut and Danish and most trace their lineage to the original founding ancestors of Greenland. The vast majority of ethnic Greenlanders reside in either their native country or elsewhere in the Danish Realm, primarily Denmark proper (approximately 20,000 Greenlanders reside in Denmark proper). A small minority reside in other countries, mostly in Scandinavia and North America. There are some Greenlanders who are multiracial, mostly due to Danish colonists and other Europeans marrying into indigenous families.

The Greenlandic people are considered to be descended from Dorset and Thule people, who settled Greenland in ancient times. As 85% of Greenland’s land mass is covered by the Greenland ice sheet, Inuit people live in three regions: Polar, Eastern, and Western. In the 1850s, additional Canadian Inuit joined the Polar Inuit communities.

The Eastern Inuit, or Tunumiit, live in the area with the mildest climate, a territory called Tunu or Tasiilaq. Hunters can hunt marine mammals from kayaks throughout the year.

Religion

Traditional Inuit beliefs are a form of animism and shamanism, according to which all objects and living things or beings have a spirit.

The belief is that all things happen through the involvement of some spirit. Spirits can affect people’s lives and can be controlled by magical charms and talismans.

Various taboos were observed to make sure that animal spirits were not offended, and when animals were killed for food, it was done according to certain rituals. Communal rites centered on preparation for the hunt as this was the most important activity for survival in a hostile environment.

Although anyone with the appropriate charms or amulets could have some control over these spirits, the person best equipped to control spirits was the shaman – the central religious figure in traditional Inuit culture. His functions included blessing the hunt, treating sickness, and providing advice in times of crisis.

In Arctic Canada, Greenland, Labrador, and southern Alaska, large numbers of Inuit have converted to Lutheranism. However, rather than hold to their new religion, the Inuit have mixed their old spirit beliefs with their new Lutheran religion.

 

(Information provided by wikipedia.org and anthropolis.com)