Frozen Coasts and the Development of Inuit Culture in the North American Arctic

  • Robert W. ParkEmail author


The northernmost part of the North American continent has seen some of the most fascinating human adaptations anywhere. In the New World this huge area extends some 11,000 km from the Aleutian Islands in the west to Greenland and Labrador in the east (Fig. 25.1). Geographically and in terms of human occupations, the Arctic is perhaps best defined as the area beyond the tree line (the northern limit of continuous forest). Some other attributes that help define the Arctic include persistence of cold (long winters and short cool summers), a largely treeless environment, permafrost (year-round frozen ground), large seasonal differences in the amount of sunlight, and very few plant foods that are consumable by humans. At the time of initial European contact a majority of human groups inhabiting the North American Arctic spent at least a part of the year living near the coast and making use of both land mammals on the tundra and sea mammals in the open ocean during the summer. However, in the winter the landscape changes dramatically.


Archaeological Record Ringed Seal Beach Ridge Bowhead Whale Canadian Arctic Archipelago 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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