2. Inuit Society and Indigenous People in the North – Dr. Mathias Nordvig

2. Inuit Society and Indigenous People in the North – Dr. Mathias Nordvig

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by ahnationtalk on July 31, 2019745 Views

Credits: Politi Peeps

Dr. Mathias Nordvig describes how Inuit society may have evolved in the North. Watch the full, four-part Indigenous People / Inuit video series here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list…

Dr Nordvig. Greenland and Northern Canadian first peoples created societies that shared resources and managed conflict in different ways.

Eurasia, Siberia, Scandinavia also had interesting was of organizing anarchic societies.

In the background there was a legacy of liberal and libertarian thinkers who have talked about the natural state of humanity. What was our origin before we make rigid hierarchical societies. There may be no single ‘natural state’ but Oxford has discovered 7 moral foundations that are conserved through at least 60 different indigenous structures.
Family values
group loyalty
authority respect for
respect for property rights

Humans all seem to do this, they seem to be our core biological moral values.

In the polar societies we see 2 economic organizations. They don’t have agriculture, so you have hunter gatherers and herding, especially reindeer (Sami, but also Siberians).

Relationship to animals instead of owning land. Economic base is.

Not focused on land ownership or static territory ownership. Fluid. There are territorial boundaries but they are dynamic and change over time compared to modern colonial systems.


Inuit: Greenland and NE. Canada. Yup’ik is different.
Inuit organized in smaller communities, mostly nomadic, some more sedentary but not agrarian based. Moved to find resources.

Trade between groups. Each group mostly family based. Each group had unique rules for engagement. Conflict mitigated by deferral to authority, typically run by group elders and the most skilled hunters (resource gatherers).

If authorities couldn’t resolve the conflict, the lower status person could leave or try to live alone (but this is perilous and usually ended in death). Vulnerable to disease and resource scarcity as the stockpile is the result of one person’s efforts.

The Sami are more pastoral and have a clan organization. Common identity in regions, common language.
Ten dialects. Quite diverse than would be assumed. Different forms of subsistence. Herding, hunting, fishing and trade.
More nomadic than Inuit. Follow needs of reindeer and trade.

Trading locations for gathering to trade and interact with other groups., Ritualized. Trade mountains and landscape markers have turned into towns as colonization and pacification resulted. Intentionally created.

All northern people suffered from cultural genocide, actual genocide, and assimilation and centralization.

Native Americans experience much the same. Currently Hawaii is having a native dispute over sacred mountains and observatories.

Natives had a set of rules for how you interact with resources. Very functional. Your relationship with the animals is serious. You are inviting the animal into your home and certain rules for respect and behavior have to be followed or the animals will not respect you and will not all you to take them into your home.

Natives also saw themselves as much more tightly tied to the animals with little distinction between humans and animals. Lots of laws and rules.

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