2 Inuit Background “Eskimo” as a derogatory term Location Language Once known as “Eskimo,” however, today they prefer to be called InuitThe term "Eskimo" was originally given by neighboring Indians and means "eaters of raw flesh," but they called themselves "Inuit," which means "the people.”LocationThe Inuit primarily live along the far northern seacoasts of Russia, the United States, Canada, and Greenland.LanguageThe Inuit speak a separate language that has many dialects.Inupiaq (Alaska)Inuktitut (Eastern Canada)Kalaallisut (Greenland)
3 Traditional Inuit Practices MarriageTraditional marriages in the Inuit culture were arranged by the parents of two families.Traditionally, parents betrothed their children before birth or at a young age.Marriages took place when a girl was in middle adolescence, approximately 14 years old, and when a man entered early adulthood, around 20 years of age.FamilyFamily life in the Inuit culture maintained a strong sense of security, intimacy, and warmth.Family members slept together on a common sleeping platform, with the youngest child closest to the mother.
4 Traditional Inuit Practices EducationInuit children learned by carefully observing the examples set by their elders.An elder would spend time with a same-sex adolescent to demonstrate how to master various life skillsInuit children had no set timeframe for learning skills necessary for survival and perpetuating the culture.Originally, speaking the Inuit native language in the Canadian school system was a punishable offense.Once Inuit elders got involved with the school board, Inuktitut language was offered for the first three years of schooling.
5 Inuit Throat-singing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLMlkjnYe0U Throat-singing is a friendly competition between girls that was originally done while the men were away hunting.Today it is seen more as a “game,” with two women facing each other.The game lasts until one loses her breath, laughs, or breaks concentration in any way.Throat-singing involves deep, heavy breaths that create a unique sound.
6 Modern Inuit Practices FamilyBasic family unit continues to be the immediate family, however, due to limited housing conditions in most communities, it is not unusual to find members of several families living together in crowded conditions.With more access to modern health care, higher percentages of children, young adults, and elders make up Inuit families today.ParentingChildren in the Inuit culture today are exposed to a world that is vastly different than the world their elders grew up in (new technologies, entertainment)This causes children to spend less time with their parents, and limits the effectiveness of traditional childrearing because these methods relied heavily on maintaining close contact between parents and children.EducationThere is little pressure placed upon adolescents by their families to seek higher education or to find a full-time job.Adolescents spend their time working, hunting/fishing, and socializing.Exposure to more Western customsModern housing, store bought materials, availability of Internet and Television, & snowmobiles
7 Marriage Practices Today Growing Inuit populationMarriage practices are different now because of a growing population.Availability of resources and western influences has caused Inuit adolescents to choose their own spouse.Youth overall are becoming more autonomous in regards to marriage because of a larger youth population and more available resources. It is no longer necessary for Inuit families to remain so close-knit.DivorceBoth men and women can demand divorce, however, it is frowned upon because it is bad for the family and the community as a whole.
8 Inuit Youth Then & Now Traditional Youth Modern Youth Inuit youth had more responsibilities and demands because of a harsh environment.They had to make rapid transitions into adulthood.Adolescent girls were expected to be expert seamstresses by the age of 14 when they typically married.Adolescent boys were expected to be able to hunt alone for an entire family.Modern YouthAdolescent Inuit spend more time with leisure activities because of availability of food and resources.Inuit youth typically spend a few weeks in summer learning nomadic traditions away from home, but for the most part remain in one settlement for most of the year (a stark contrast from their nomadic heritage).
9 Inuit Adolescent Education The Inuit currently maintain a school system that is modeled after those in southern Canada.Though some Inuit staff are employed through the school, most of the teachers and principals are non-Inuit.Most Inuit communities offer schooling in the elementary, middle, and secondary levels of education.For most Inuit students, learning beyond the traditional academic structure is not available.No opportunities for learning vocational, artistic, or recreational skills.
10 Inuit Adolescent Education Alarmingly high drop out ratesThe drop out rate of Inuit adolescents at the high school level far exceeds the national average.This adds additional stress to families, contributes to the social ills that trouble communities, and often leads to crime and suicide.For on-reserve Inuit communities, the drop out rate can be as high as 75%For off-reserve communities, the rate can be as high as 25%Reasons for such high drop out rates:There are many distractions for young people in modern communitiesFunding gap in educationLow achievement ratesUnemployment for Aboriginal communitiesNot surprising, there is also a low number of Inuit who complete trade certificates or college degrees given this low number of Inuit high school graduates.
11 Parenting Adoption is common in Inuit society As child continues into adolescence, a strong bond is held between both adoptive and biological parents.Three main themes are essential to parent-adolescent relationshipsNurturance and attachmentInuit nurturance is valued so heavily that at times parents become overprotective and even engage in harsh behaviors.All adults in the community have the right to exercise authority over the children, however, the parents maintain the upmost authorityThe use of observation and interpersonal games when instructing children.Interpersonal games are used to enhance the emotional development in order for adolescents to stimulate the proper emotions for the given situation, and to give them experience when faced with such emotions.Autonomy and independence
12 Autonomy Autonomy and Independence are essential to the Inuit Culture Through adolescence, children are free to express their own independence as they begin to mature.Heavy emphasis on the concept of non-interference“Inuit place a high regard on the right of individuals to lead their lives free from interference from others.”This concept often places Inuit adolescents in uncomfortable situationsFor example, when a child is chosen as a captain of a team, they are likely to feel uncomfortable because they are in a position of power where they have to rank the ability of their peers.Autonomy measured individuallyBased on what children are able to accomplish rather than whether or not children have attained a certain level of development.Parents grant children the freedom to engage in almost any activity, as long as no risk in harm is involved.
13 Maintaining Inuit Culture Determined to keep culture aliveThe Inuit people are determined to keep their culture alive despite modernization.“Inuit continue to maintain their unique culture within their distinct homeland. Despite modern influences and conveniences, Inuit have retained their language, core knowledge and beliefs” (https://www.itk.ca/about-inuit/inuit-today)Passed on to future generationsTo insure that the culture is transmitted through generations, Inuit youth are required to leave the permanent settlement during the summer to develop skills for the harsh environment.During this time they can only speak the native language, Inuktitut.
15 What can be done in order to lower the drop out rate amongst Inuit adolescents? In the Inuit culture, is the concept of “non-interference” valued too much, or just enough, when impacting an adolescent’s development of autonomy?