Hunters and Gatherers: There are almost no trees in the Arctic. There are few plants. It is cold most of the year. The Inuit could not become farmers. Like the other early people who lived in the Arctic, they were hunters and gatherers. In the short summer, they gathered berries, seaweed, and eggs. Their main food year around was meat.
Caribou: Because food was scarce, they could not live in the same place all the time. They had to keep moving, following the herds. Of all the animals, the caribou was the most important. It provided food and warm fur to make clothes. They made thick gloves to protect themselves from the sub-zero arctic weather. They rubbed noses to say hello instead of shaking hands.
Daily Life: The Inuit life was a hard one. During the day, they hunted for food. At night, the Inuit sheltered tent homes made of animals skins, or in ice igloos, a skill they learned from the Central Eskimos. They made spears, harpoons, and pipes. They carved animals from soft soapstone. They found time storytelling. Songs that told tales of hunting and hardship accompanied their stories.
Religion: The Inuit believed in magical beings. They believed that all living things had a spirit. Before a hunt, they offered gifts to the animal they hoped to catch. These gifts were offered through the shaman. They believed their shaman could talk to spirits. If the hunt was successful, the shaman got the credit. If it was not successful, that was the fault of the people - they had not been generous enough with their gifts.
Finger Masks: The Inuit women wore little masks on their fingers when dancing. This was to help attract the attention of the many spirits in which they believed.
Inuksuk: An Inuksuk is a stone landmark. In the arctic region, there are few natural landmarks. But the people needed landmarks to know where they were as they trekked across the snow and ice, in search of food. So, these early people made landmarks out of piles of stones. You could see them from some distance away. They were used as a form of communication. A particular design might tell of good places to fish. Other designs would alert others to hidden storages of food and warm furs in case of need.
The Inuit consider all Inuksuks as sacred. Many have been around for a very long time. Today, in Canada especially, various Inuksuk designs serve as cultural symbols of the Inuit.