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Eskimo - A group of Indians who lived on the Arctic Coast of North America.  The Eskimo were dived into three divisions - The Eastern, Central, and Western Eskimo.  One branch lived across the  Bering Straits in Eastern Siberia.

Over this 5,000 mile spread of territory, the largest occupied by any American indian group, customs differed in many minor respects.  Basically, however, the Eskimo were a hunting and fishing people who lived on fish and sea mammals during the winter months and hunted caribou and other game inland during the summer.  The Western Eskimo lived in dugouts, or pit houses , while the igloo or dome shaped snow hut was used only by the Central Eskimo.  The Eastern Eskimo lived in huts made of driftwood or whale bone.

Their name is said to have come from the Abnaki word esquimantsic or from the Chippewa word ashkimeq, both of which mean "eaters of raw flesh."  They called themselves Inuit, which means "people."  Of medium stature, the Eskimo were strong and had great endurance.  They had small hands and feet, light brownish yellow skin, and "Mongolian" eyes.

They dressed in warm skins.  Excellent craftsman, they took great pride in decorating their hunting and fishing gear, mad chiefly of bone and walrus tooth ivory.  Their skin covered kayaks were the most seaworthy boats of their kind and have been copied by the white man.  The Eskimo were a cheerful, peaceable, truthful, and honest people.  They lived partly on raw food, but also cooked with oil lamps.  Blubber, the fat of marine mammals, was considered a delicacy, and was eaten raw.

The Eskimo of Alaska, members of the Western Eskimo group are citizens of the United States.
 

 


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