This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.
The name Inuit means "the people." When the first Europeans met the Inuit, they called them Eskimo. This was because the Europeans had heard that name from another Aboriginal group called the Cree. In the Cree language, "Eskimo" means "eaters of raw meat." The Inuit don't like to be called Eskimo. They prefer to be called Inuit or, for one person, Inuk.
The Inuit arrived in their territory around 1 000 years ago from the Alaska region. They had come east hunting the bowhead whale. Originally there had been another people living in the area where some of them settled, in the areas we now call the Northwest Territories, Northern Quebec and Northern Ontario. This other group has been called the Dorset culture by archeologists. An archeologist is someone who studies ancient societies by discovering what they left behind. It is believed that the Dorset culture left around the same time as the Inuit arrived. They may have fought one another.
What makes the Inuit unique? For one thing, they are the only Aboriginal people who can be found from one side of the country to the other. It is important to note that Inuit are not related to other Aboriginal groups. They are their own distinct people who arrived in the North hundreds of years ago.