Re: Inuits and Eskimos

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Posted by Elaine on April 27, 1999 at 07:23:50:

In Reply to: Re: Inuits and Eskimos posted by jeff on April 27, 1999 at 06:14:26:

: : : : The version of the story I read about Nunavut in the New York Times reported in terms of "Eskimos" and said they are also called Inuit. Is it true that Eskimos and Inuits are the same? I always though the Inuit were different -- related but separate.

: : : : Can anyone confirm?

: : : : Cheers,
: : : : Sarah

: : : Hi Sarah,

: : : It is true that Eskimos and Inuit are the same...However the latter term is the correct one meaning "The People" in Inuktitut.The term Eskimo originates from the Algonquin language meaning " Eaters of Raw Meat". It is not used in Canada anymore and I heard from a friend who is Inuit that it is not advisable to use the word Eskimo up north...The Inuit may consider it an insult...

: : : Rebecca

: :
: : Hi Sarah and Rebecca,

: : The term "Eskimo" is used occasionally in Alaska. It does not seem to be an insult as it is used by the people themselves, as in the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission. It may just be a holdover from earlier times. More often, they use Yup'ik or Inupiat and refer to the individual groups.

: : Chris

: Hey guys i appreciate the info on the inuits....but it seems to me that it is a misconception that the Inuit enjoy being called Eskimos....actually they hate it....just writing to let you know that

Jeff & Brian,

I think you may have misread the messages regarding Inuit/Eskimo terminology. While Chris pointed out that in Alaska the term Eskimo is still used at times, she added that it's most likely a carry over from earlier eras. Old habits. As Rebecca pointed out, the phrase is Algonquian {"eaters of raw meat"} and was not meant
in a flattering way. No one intended to imply the Inuit people "enjoy" being called Eskimo. Some apparently don't mind (Alaska) while MOST do find it insulting (Canada).

Algonquian terminology, even when negative, remains in use among others. Mohawk means "man eaters" & Iroquois means "adders." The Iroquois' own name is Hodenosaunee (people of the long house) & the Mohawk proper name for themselves is Ganeagaono (people of the flint). Though both 'Mohawk' & 'Iroquois' were derogatory terms, they are still used interchangeably by the people. The words of the "enemy" often survive, no?

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