Eskimo History and Culture
Inupiaq, Yup'ik, Cup'ik and Bering Sea Yupik
Stone blade tool complexes of ten thousand years ago reflect a time when Alaska and Asia were united. A descendant of this Paleo-Arctic tradition was the Arctic Small Tool tradition, typified by small blades, burins and scrapers. The people were nomadic caribou hunters, and seasonal hunters of seals. Their culture evolved into the Norton tradition, which introduced pottery, oil lamps and polished slate tools. The historic Eskimo Thule tradition developed around Bering Strait about 2000 B.P. and spread rapidly east to Greenland, bringing intensive whaling and sealing, and the first definite use of the dogsled.
Eskimos from the Bering Strait to Greenland speak the same language, Inupiaq. Arctic coast dwellers are still sea mammal hunters. Those in interior northwest Alaska depend largely on caribou. The Yupik-speaking people of southwest Alaska constitute a majority of Alaskan Eskimos. In their more varied diet, salmon are important. On the Pacific coast, whale hunting was significant. Alaskan Eskimos lived in semi-subterranean houses of wood, turf, or stone; not snow igloos. At the time of historic contact there were some 48,000 Eskimos, of whom 26,000 lived in Alaska.