Inughuit - Settlements

Villages are on the coast facing the sea. Up until the early 1900s, many families moved from one settlement to another each winter. Settlements included as many as five families of relatives and friends, with anyone free to settle where they wanted and to use whatever dwellings already existed. Summer settlements were smaller and occupied only for hunting purposes. Today, with the presence of stores and access to wood for house construction, the Inughuit are relatively permanently settled in six communities—Qaanaaq (the capital) , Siorapaluk, Qeqertarsuaq, Qeqertaq, Moriusaq, and Sivissivik. Another one hundred or so formerly used settlements lie abandoned. The traditional dwelling was a bulb-shaped stone house built into a slope with an entranceway measuring approximately ten feet by sixteen-and-a-half feet facing the sea. A small roof hole allowed ventilation, while the long low entranceway kept warm air trapped inside. The temperature ranged from 32° F at floor level to near 80° F near the ceiling of the single room, heated by a soapstone lamp. The dwelling housed a single family of from five to ten individuals. Sealskin tents were used in the summer because of drips into the stone house and because the tents were easy to move from one settlement to another. On hunts in winter, the men built snow houses. Beginning in the 1950s the stone houses were first replaced by wooden houses covered with sod and turf and then by all-wood houses raised on poles to avoid permafrost problems. The stone houses had belonged to the user; the wood houses now belong to the person who buys the wood.

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