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Cultures > Inuit

:: 1000 AD - PRESENT

Cultural Background | Surviving | Finding Meaning in the Cosmos


Navigation: The Inuit culture relied on the sun and the stars to help them navigate their way to and from home on water and land. They closely studied both the day and the night sky and had a thorough knowledge of the positions of the sun and stars at all times of the year. Because of this, the Inuit could always look up to the sky to figure out exactly where they were standing and what direction and distance they needed to travel to find home.

Being able to navigate by looking at the sky was extremely important to the Inuit's food-finding techniques. Hunters relied on the sun and stars to find their way home after long days hunting for animals in the cold climate. The snow-covered ground often was a help in navigating at night. The light of the moon and stars in the sky would reflect off the white, icy ground, providing as much light as on some dark days.

Keeping Time: The Inuit also relied on the sky to keep time. The stars Altair and Tarazed always appeared in the morning sky during the month of December. When the Inuit saw Altair and Tarazed, they knew that the period of winter darkness would soon end and the sun would return to the sky.

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Learn more about how cultures used astronomy to navigate and keep time.

Read Northern Lights, Stars and Navigation to learn more about how the Inuit used the sun and other stars to help them hunt for food.


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