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Here are some beautiful portraits of Eskimos from 1903-1934

Ian Smith

The Eskimo are the indigenous peoples who have traditionally inhabited the northern circumpolar region from eastern Siberia (Russia), across Alaska (United States), Canada, and Greenland.  Although the term is considered derogatory in Canada and Greenland (where the term Inuit or other more specific terms are used), it remains in use in the United States, where it does not carry negative connotations.

All photos by Library of Congress 

A kayaker wearing a waterproof jacket with a toy boat he made for his son.

A kayaker wearing a waterproof jacket with a toy boat he made for his son.

 

An Eskimo fur dealer.

An Eskimo fur dealer.

 

Child in fur.

Child in fur.

 

Child on beach.

Child on beach.

 

Dance of the Kaviagamute.

Dance of the Kaviagamute.

 

Eskimo berry pickers.

Eskimo berry pickers.

 

Eskimo from the Diomede Islands.

Eskimo from the Diomede Islands.

 

Newarluk, an Eskimo woman.

Newarluk, an Eskimo woman.

 

Portrait of an Eskimo man. .

Portrait of an Eskimo man. .

 

Portrait of an Eskimo man.

Portrait of an Eskimo man.

 

Portrait of an Eskimo woman.

Portrait of an Eskimo woman.

 

Portrait of an Eskimo woman.

Portrait of an Eskimo woman.

 

The Anvil Creek gold mine.

The Anvil Creek gold mine.

 

The wolf dance of the Kaviagamutes.

The wolf dance of the Kaviagamutes.

The two main peoples known as “Eskimo” are: the Inuit of Canada, Northern Alaska (sub-group “Inupiat”), and Greenland; and the Yupik of eastern Siberia and Alaska. The Yupik comprise speakers of four distinct Yupik languages: one used in the Russian Far East and the others among people of Western Alaska, Southcentral Alaska and along the Gulf of Alaska coast. A third northern group, the Aleut, is closely related to the Eskimo. They share a relatively recent common ancestor, and a language group (Eskimo-Aleut).

Three Eskimo children.

Three Eskimo children.

 

Since the late 20th century numerous indigenous people viewed the use of the term “Eskimo” as offensive, because it was used by people who discriminated against them. In its linguistic origins, the word Eskimo comes from Montagnais ‘ayas̆kimew’ meaning “a person who laces a snowshoe” and is related to ‘husky’, so does not have a direct pejorative meaning. In Canada and Greenland, the term “Eskimo” is seen as pejorative and has been widely replaced by the term “Inuit” or terms specific to a particular nation or community. The Canadian Constitution Act of 1982, sections 25  and 35  recognized the Inuit as a distinctive group of aboriginal peoples in Canada.