Arctic Voices

Arctic Gardens Ebook - Chapter One: Beyond the Northern Divide

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In any case, people’s adaptation to coastal environments resembling the modern-day Eskimo of our region was not seen until about 5,000 years ago. It is likely that coastal areas in the Arctic were not glacier-free until then. Thus the hunting of sea mammals such as the seal, the walrus and even the whale probably began about that time or somewhat later.

To me as an anthropologist, the Eskimo Inuit and Indian people of the North American Arctic are some of the most amazing and interesting in the Americas. Their story is indeed one of high risk and high reward. The risks are obvious. Mainly, they face some of the most extreme climates anywhere in the world. Indeed, humans did not develop the technology to live in these climes until perhaps 25,000 years ago.

Periodic glacial advances and retreats had resisted human adaptations for more than a million years after our ancient ancestors first walked the earth. Our existence as hu- mans began four to five million years ago in the permissive climes of the tropics as the genus Ardipithecus. Perhaps a million years ago we spread to temperate areas with the appearance of Homo erectus, the first member of our own genus. But not until well af- ter the appearance of own species, Homo sapiens, did we make the big move to the far north.

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