The Inuit are a traditionally nomadic people who migrated about 1,000 years ago from western Alaska toward what is today Arctic Canada. Until very recently, they had no formal political organization. Nuclear families lived together and occasionally joined other families to compose small, fluid bands to share their hunt.
Since World War II, the Inuit have been forced by the federal government to abandon their nomadic lives for remote settlements approachable only by airplane. The federal police killed their sled dogs, saying they were sickly. Young Inuit were required to leave their parents and sent to residential schools, where they were routinely abused physically and sexually.
Modern life has its benefits, but the Inuit diet of hunted game has largely been replaced by sugary and fatty packaged foods. Welfare has become a way of life, and 30-year-old grandparents are not uncommon. Housing is scarce, so crowding only exacerbates social ills.
June 18, 2006
The NYT reports: