Interesting Facts About Inupiat Culture You Probably Didn’t Know

The Inupiat are a group of Alaska Natives that have been living in the region for thousands of years. Inupiaq is the singular term, which translates to “real person.” To survive the cold and harsh Arctic climate, the Inupiat evolved their own understanding of nature, especially the natural resources of the area and how to get the most out of them for survival. The communities, which usually have a population of a few hundreds, also developed a culture of mutual support and sharing. They share and trade with their neighbors, and hunt, most commonly seals, bowhead whales and caribou. Their subsistence hunting of the bowhead whale, which is a centuries-old unique practice, sets them apart from other Indigenous peoples. Here are a few more such interesting facts about Inupiat culture that you may not know:

1. The Inupiat have mutual respect for nature
When the Inupiat kill a whale, they thank it for giving its life for their survival. Similarly, before they kill a seal, they feed it some fresh water as a way of showing mutual respect. And because of this culture of respect for nature, it is taboo to exhibit any kind of disrespect towards animals. All killings are done swiftly so that the animal experiences minimal pain. They also use every part of the kill and ensure that nothing goes to waste. It is believed that disrespecting animals can bring bad luck.

2. The Inupiat never hunt killer whales
The Inupiat are known for their traditional practice of hunting bowhead whales, which doesn’t just bring them food but also determines the social structure and reflects the community values of sharing, inclusiveness and cooperation. But did you know that they never hunt orcas or killer whales? It is believed that if an orca is killed, its mate will remember the boat and come back for revenge.

3. The sense of community is very strong among the Inupiat
Every individual in the Inupiat community is expected to be independent and self-reliant, but they must also fulfill their responsibilities towards their community. The members should always be ready to help and support each other, whether in community activities like hunting or during festivals and celebrations.

There’s no better way to learn about the Inupiat and their culture than by taking a trip to Kaktovik, Alaska. You can now book multi-day trips to Kaktovik at some great prices. All you need to do is get in touch with us at Kaktovik Arctic Tours, and we’ll do the rest. In addition to transport and logistics, we also provide culture guides to Kaktovik.



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