Inupiat

Introduction

The Iñupiat (plural) or Iñupiaq (singular) and Iñupiak (dual) (from iñuk ‘person’ – and -piaq ‘real’, i.e., ‘real people’) or Inupik are the people of Alaska’s Northwest Arctic and North Slope boroughs and the Bering Straits region. Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States, is in the Inupiat region. Their language is known as Iñupiaq.

Inupiat people continue to rely heavily on subsistence hunting and fishing, including whaling. The capture of a whale benefits each member of a community, as the animal is butchered and its meat and blubber allocated according to a traditional formula. Even city-dwelling relatives thousands of miles away are entitled to a share of each whale killed by the hunters of their ancestral village. Maktak, which is the skin and blubber of Bowhead and other whales, is rich in vitamins A and C and contributes to good health in a population with limited access to fruits and vegetables.

Inupiat people have grown more concerned in recent years that climate change is threatening their traditional lifestyle. The warming trend in the Arctic affects the Inupiaq lifestyle in numerous ways, for example: thinning sea ice makes it more difficult to harvest Bowhead Whales, seals, walrus, and other traditional foods; warmer winters make travel more dangerous and less predictable; later-forming sea ice contributes to increased flooding and erosion along the coast, directly imperiling many coastal villages. The Inuit Circumpolar Council, a group representing indigenous peoples of the Arctic, has made the case that climate change represents a threat to their human rights.

Adapted from Wikipedia’s article on the Inupiat People

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