Forty Years of Cultural Change among the Inuit in Alaska, Canada and Greenland: Some Reflections
The peoples in the arctic regions have experienced unprecedented cultural change in the last 40 years. The Dene, Metis, Samis, Athapaskans, Inuit and other aboriginal people in these regions have all seen their traditional lifestyles altered dramatically with the increased influx of southern peoples, with their baggage of modern technology, bureaucracy and assorted economic/political social cultural systems. This paper focuses on the Inuit regions of Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland, for the Inuit have experienced more cultural changes since 1945 than in any other concentrated time span before. Although the changes have often resulted in great human tragedies, such as suicide epidemics and alcoholism, many positive changes have also occurred, as shown by major events in the three Inuit regions examined, as well as the establishment of some cultural and educational institutions. The paper draws on interviews with contemporary Inuit leaders. It concludes that the Inuit culture is now in the process of being re-affirmed and will indeed be of increasing worldwide importance as the Arctic emerges as a new international and transnational region.
Key words: Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Inuit, cultural change