Kinship of the Inuit People
Shannette M Hoskins
17 February 2013
When people live in harsh environments it causes them to work together in different ways to ensure their survival such as the Inuit people of the Artic. For the most part the Inuit people are considered to be foragers, this means they rely heavily on the environment to sustain their way of life. The social organization of the Inuit is described as a “band” (Effland, 2013). These bands can consist of anywhere from sixty to three hundred people shared bilaterally. This means that relatives are from both the mother and fathers side of the family. This type of kinship allows for a greater chance of survival as a group and as an individual family.
Due to the Inuit dependency on the environment they are forced to move during the different seasons to areas where food sources are more abundant, cause them to display three very distinct behaviors communal fusion and fission, and general reciprocity, and ritual participation (Versistilte, 2012). During the winter months several families come together, as few as fifteen to as many as twenty-five in order to have a greater catch during hunting. The Inuit survive in the winter mainly on seal and a few other small animals. This act of “coming together” is known as fusion (Nowark & Laird, 2010). In the summer when hunting and fishing is good the groups will split up and provide for smaller groups, possibly even just the nuclear family. This is known as fissions. “Fissions reduces the stress on the environment, helping to eliminate the possibility of over exploitation of resources or a hunger scare due to lack of resources (Nowark & Laird, 2010). At times due to natures unpredictability food resources are scarce and this is when the Inuit people practice “generalized reciprocity”. In this instance they will share food with other families to ensure the survival of the group as a whole (Effland, 2013). “ Generalized reciprocity” is a...
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