Commonly called Eskimo, the Inuit people live in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Siberia and Denmark. In Inuktitut language, Inuit means "the people." Modern Inuit mostly live in small, prefabricated wooden homes, but in the past there were a few types of homes they would build. These homes varied by region, and the materials available to them, but mostly consisted of four main types.
In the winter, the Inuit would build igloos. Using long knives, they would chop hard blocks out of packed snow. They would build a circular-shaped home from the snow bricks. A sheet of ice would act as a window to let in natural light. A man could usually build an igloo in one hour. A seal oil lamp provided illumination during the evening. The people slept on blocks of snow covered with animal skins. As the igloo melted in the spring, the family would pack up and move into a tent.
Some of the Inuit people, such as the Siberian Inuit, lived in areas that were so cold there was very little snow. If they didn't have enough snow to make igloos, they might make a frame of whale ribs. If they could find drift wood, they might use that to make a sturdy frame. The people would cover the frame with whatever earth or turf was available in the region.
In the summer, the Inuit made a tent from animal bones or wood. They covered it with animal skins and used sinew to keep the animal skins on the frame. Sinew is a strong fibrous muscle that was taken from animals and can be used as a strong string. This would be their summer home. Family is important to the Inuit, so they might make their tents close together, so extended family members would be available to each other.
Some Inuit families in Greenland built permanent homes made from stone and sod where they hunkered down for the long, dark winter. A common house that the whole village of about 50 people used was called kashim or karigi. Here the community would gather for dancing, wrestling, games and storytelling.
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