Netsilik Inuit

ETHNONYMS: Arveqtormiut, Kungmiut, Pelly Bay Eskimo, Sinimiut, Ugyuligmiut

The Netsilik Inuit are a group of several hundred Inuit who live in the Canadian Arctic north of Hudson Bay on the Boothia Peninsula, King William Island, and the Adelaide Peninsula. In the nineteenth century the Netsilik occupied the same Canadian Arctic area and numbered about five hundred.

Change induced by White contact was limited until the mid-twentieth century, although the Netsilik were involved in fur trapping and trading in the 1920s and several missions were established among them in the 1930s. In the 1950s the first schools, established by the Canadian government, proved to be a significant agent of acculturation. In the 1970s sealing was practiced in the summer and caribou were hunted in both summer and winter. The use of firearms has resulted in more individualized hunting, which increased importance of the nuclear family at the expense of the traditional extended family unit.

The Netsilik were hunters who followed a seasonal Subsistence cycle of harpooning seals on the sea ice in winter and fishing and communal hunting of caribou from kayaks during the summer. Extended families formed the basic subsistence unit and tended to be exogamous. The Netsilik were divided in numerous small, fluid hunting bands, each identified with a particular geographical area. They believed in numerous deities, spirits, and monsters and observed many taboos to propitiate a female deity whom they believed to control all animals. Religious leadership was provided by shamans who cured the sick by invoking the aid of protecting spirits.


Balikci, Asen (1970). The Netsilik Eskimo. Garden City, N.Y.: Natural History Press.

Rasmussen, Knud (1931). The Netsilik Eskimos. Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition, 1921-24. Vol. 8, 1-542. Copenhagen, Denmark.

Taylor, J. Garth (1974). Netsilik Eskimo Material Culture: The Roald Amundsen Collection from King William Island. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Also read article about Netsilik Inuit from Wikipedia

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