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Talk:Inuit culture

Comments on the archaeologyEdit

This article appears to contain several inaccuracies as concerns Inuit prehistory:

1. The article talks about the "Paleo-eskimos" crossing Bering Strait in 3000 BC. "Paleoeskimo" (without the hyphen) is a term coined by Danish anthropologist H. P. Steensby in 1905 to mean the Eskimos of the central Arctic coast (e.g., the Netsilingmiut) whose economy was based on ice hunting and fishing -- a form Steensby considered "old" and "original" as compared to the whale-hunting and kayak sealing "neoeskimos" of Greenland, Labrador, and the Bering Strait area. When actual archaeological research into Eskimo origins began in the 1920's, the term "paleoeskimo" came to be applied to cultures like Dorset and Ipiutak, which used the chipping technique for making stone tools, while "neoeskimo" was applied to the Thule culture and a number of its predecessors which used the grinding technique. The use of these terms has largely been abandoned in archaeological circles; currently the term "Arctic Small Tool tradition" (ASTt) is applied to the Denbigh culture of western Alaska and its relatives in the east (Pre-Dorset, Saqqaq, Independence I and II, and Dorset) and west (Choris, Norton, and Ipiutak) while the ground slate-using cultures Old Bering Sea/Okvik, Punuk, Birnirk, and Thule are sometimes referred to as the "Thule tradition" but rarely any more as "Neoeskimos". The ancestors of the Denbigh people probably came over from Siberia, as did certain characteristics of their lithic technology (in particular, microblades), but archaeologists DO NOT speak of the "Paleoeskimos crossing over Bering Strait" at some particular time.

2. One receives the impression that the "Paleoeskimos" all abruptly moved to the northern Canadian Arctic in 2300 BC. In fact, a part stayed behind, the Alaskan Denbigh culture continuing at least to 1600 BC and probably developing into the following Choris culture (c.1500-500 BC) and eventually the Norton culture (500 BC-1000 AD). Whether the eastward expansion had to do with climatic (NOT "climactic") change is not clear.

3. Diamond Jenness did not personally find Dorset objects on Cape Dorset; he identified a group of anomalous objects in a collection of artefacts from Cape Dorset that had been sent to the National Museum of Canada.

Reworded. Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy) (talk) 18:57, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

4. The ASTt groups that spread to the eastern Arctic most certainly had harpoon heads - these have been found in sites of all eastern ASTt cultures, including Independence I. It is not known whether or not Independence I had boats, but Pre-Dorset and Saqqaq most probably did. We cannot say anything definite about their dwellings as sod huts preserve rather poorly, but apparently they had abundant driftwood fuel since they did not need to burn sea mammal blubber.

5. As far as I know, there is scant evidence of any ASTt population -- Dorset included -- hunting small whales, though walrus definitely figured at least in Dorset and late Pre-Dorset. I also wonder why the "Paleoeskimos" are not considered to have hunted seals on the ice in the central Arctic.

6. The hearths (fireplaces) of Independence I dwellings -- the so-called axial features -- are not made by "stacking flat stones upon each other". The hearths are box-like, encircled with flat stones set on edge. Being coastal, the Independence I people would also not have had to make do with "what meager wood they could find on the arctic plains" (there would have been none, as there were no trees) but could use the ample driftwood brought to arctic shores by the Polar current from the river mouths of Siberia.

The information has been changed per the above. Of course, "unreferenced and correct" is better than "unreferenced and incorrect", but the former is no more authoritative.Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy) (talk)

7. For starting a fire with "flintstone", one needs a firesteel, and obviously the "paleoeskimos" in 2000 BC had none -- iron hadn't even reached Europe at that time.

Amended per above. Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy) (talk) 01:19, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

8. The ancestors of the Saqqaq culture most definitely migrated into Greenland from Ellesmere Island (there is only one) -- so did everybody else, until the Norse sailed in from Iceland in the tenth century AD!

9. The article gives 1400-400 BC for the Independence II culture. As far as I am aware, Independence II is generally dated to 800/600-0 BC. The 1400 date would be in contradiction to the article's own statement that there was a 500 year hiatus after Independence I, which the article lists as ending in 1500 BC.

10. The Dorset periods I and II are new to me. Usually, the Dorset culture is divided into Early Dorset (c. 500-300 BC), Middle Dorset (300 BC-500 AD), and Late Dorset (500-1100/1500 AD, depending on the location; the last Dorset sites are in Arctic Quebec).

11. The article places much too great weight on climatic factors; Northern Alaska is no more temperate than Baffin Island and definately less temperate than southern Greenland or Labrador. There is no evidence that specifically the "more temperate climate" had anything to do with the "greater cultural advances" (whatever they may have been) among Alaskan peoples as compared to those of the eastern Arctic. Contacts with Siberian and through them with other Asian peoples probably had much more to do with, e.g., the spread into Alaska of traits like pottery and Siberian-style ornamentation, than did any possible differences in climate.

12. It is highly likely that at least the Dorset people had kayaks and more than probable that the Pre-Doret and Saqqaq people also had skin boats. The umiaq is a western invention, but when used in whaling it is always paddled by men, never rowed by women. Women rowers were (and are) only used when the umiaq is used for transportation, and only in Greenland is it referred to as the "women's boat".

13. It should be noted thet the word "igloo" refers to any kind of permanent house, not only to snow houses.

Amended in footnote. This is already stated in the article on Igloos. Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy) (talk) 01:27, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

14. There is no evidence of dog sled use from either the east OR the west (Alaska) before the Thule period; it has even been suggested that the dogsled was a Dorset invention.

15. It is highly unlikely that the "search for meteorite iron" gave any impetus to the Thule expansion. The Eskimos used meteorite iron by cold-hammering it into small flat flakes and insetting these into bone or ivory weapon points, but this was never very popular and particularly chipped (as against ground) stone blades could be made much sharper.

16. It is rather questionable whether the Thule culture was technologically superior to Dorset in all aspects. True, they had umiaks, whaling technology, drills, and bows and arrows, but in most of the former Dorset area the Thule people had to give up whaling long before the Dorset disappeared and start practicing kayak sealing -- and in the process adopt a number of Dorset traits, including "flat" sealing harpoon heads with bifurcate spurs.

17. The qarmat (not "quarmaq") is not the same as the typical Thule whalebone house. The whalebone house was covered with a thick layer of sod and was meant for midwinter habitation. The qarmat, on the other hand, is an intermediate-season house used in the Hudson Bay area. It consists of stone walls (qarmat actually means "walls") and a light roof, usually of skins. Actual qarmait are not kown from the Thule Period. The description of a "Thule quarmaq" is inaccurate and partly fantasy. Thule whalebone houses were built on a stone foundation, the roof was made of whale jawbones (twice as long as the ribs!) with ribs as fillers and covered with sod; there is obviously no archaeological evidence that snow was intentionally packed on top of the sod, though it naturally might have collected there by itself in the winter.

"Drawings of another qarmaq show a structure with stone slab retaining walls set into a hill. Whale rib arches support poles over which a seal skin cover, insulated with dried moss, is placed; the window is of dried and sewn seal intestines". -Nabokov, Peter. 1990. Native American Architecture. Oxford University Press. ISBN-10: 0195066650 p. 201. Although the distinction is logical, I can find no mention of Thule dwellings in my sources so far, but of course you are right about the spelling. Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy) (talk) 19:09, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Enough for now. More later. Good night!--Death Bredon (talk) 21:15, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Other contributionsEdit

User:Ratzer had more of a hand in the translation of this article than will appear from the page history. Thanks and credit are due to him. Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy) (talk) 17:35, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

Formating and editingEdit

I accidentally started americanizing the English on this page when editing and tried to undo that as much as possible to maintain Canadian English for the page. Cheers, Uyvsdi (talk) 22:38, 12 March 2009 (UTC)Uyvsdi

Canadian (as opposed to "Candian") English still adheres to basic grammar and spelling rules. I've added a few edits to make sure that the English on this page conforms to them. Munchkyn (talk) 19:33, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

No need to be so acidic in your edit summaries. Several of the people involved in translating this from German are non-native English speakers, but I couldn't have translated it without their help. This is a wiki: there were mistakes, and you corrected them- thank you. The system works. To Uyvsdi: Canadian English is not strictly identical to British English, and is closer to American English in some spellings, i.e. "analyze", "skeptic", "tire", "organization", etc. A complete chart is available here Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy) (talk) 03:16, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Length and formattingEdit

I've just added two cleanup templates to the top of the page. The first is the "Very long" template. WP:SIZE suggests that readers may tire of pages which are more than 30-50 KB of prose. Using the standard method, I measured the current version of this article at about 55 KB. This suggests to me that some content here needs to be trimmed or forked off to separate pages.

The other template I added was the "Wikify" cleanup template. The formatting of the 2nd and 3rd sections are rather difficult to read: the 3rd section seemingly uses bullet points as subsection headings and has some strange ASCII diagrams, and the 2nd section is all bullet points without any explanation.

The other cleanup template I was tempted to add, but didn't, was Template:Textbook. I think some sections (such as "Added value in the Arctic", "Adjustment to conditions of living in a modern industrial nation" and "Cooperatives, a formula for success") read like something from a textbook. I think the article would be much improved if these could be edited for a more encyclopedic tone. The section on "Added value in the Arctic" in particular, seems unencyclopedic in both tone and content, and I'll be removing the whole section shortly unless someone wants to argue for its continued existence. Dindon (talk) 05:40, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

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