Did you know ? These eight inventions were developed by the Inuit people!

When it comes to inventions, there are two scenarios. Either the invention comes from a brain in search of creation or focused on technologies. Either it is born froma real need in everyday life. We don’t necessarily know it, but some inventions that we use today come from a relatively unknown people: the Inuits !

This indigenous people who lives in northern regions of Canada but also and Alaska ou au Greenland is also called Eskimos (raw meat eater). A nomadic people who live mainly on gathering and hunting. The most famous invention of the Inuit: l’Igloo of course, but did you know that sunglasses were also the result of their creativity?

According to the latest statistics, there would be approximately 150,000 Inuit spread over the United States (Alaska), Canada and Denmark (Greenland). Here are some of the inventions attributed to them.

Indigenous Inuit people live in the northern regions of Canada. Photo credit : Ansgar Walk / Wikipedia

Everyone once tried to build an igloo in the snow! To face the great cold and remain a nomadic people, we needed a house that was easy to build and with local materials: ice! The word igloo simply means “house” in Inuit! The construction is made of blocks of snow stacked to form a dome… A tiny ice house of sorts!

The invention of the igloo
The invention of the igloo. Photo credit : Frank E. Kleinschmidt – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC 20540. Public Domain

Obviously the Inuit did not invent sunglasses as we know them at home! Rather, they are the source of the shape of the glasses. Indeed, the sunlight which reflects on the snow is very aggressive. They then made small strips of wood with a small slit for the eyes. Simply so as to eliminate glare from the sun.

The invention of sunglasses
The invention of sunglasses. Photo credit : Claire Rowland / Wikipedia

L’invention des Inukshuk

You may have seen these structures without knowing that they were called Inukshuk ! They are in fact piles of stones that help the navigation of boats. But also to mark a hunting ground, fishing or a sacred place. They also have other functions such as hiding in times of hunting. Be careful if you are traveling in Inuit land, it is absolutely forbidden to destroy or even touch these sacred structures.

L’invention des Inukshuk
L’invention des Inukshuk, Auyuittuq National Park, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. Crédit photo : BretA343 / Wikipedia

If your child loves sledding for hours on end, you can thank the Inuit for your peaceful moments! Among the Inuit, sledding helps hunters to transport animals and furs on the snow. Made of birch wood, the slats are tied together with deerskin and allow the transport of goods. Inuit sledges also allow passenger transport! Astonishing!

The invention of the sledge
The invention of the sledge. Photo credit : Library Archives, Canada / Wikipedia

The invention of the kayak

Always out of necessity, the Inuit therefore invented the kayak! Obviously not in carbon fiber like the ones we know but rather in wood! Without a kayak, they couldn’t use the lakes as hunting grounds! According to some experts, Inuit kayaks are made from the skins of seals or whales stretched over a wooden frame. And the invention would not date from yesterday. At the National Museum of Ethnology in Munich, it is possible to observe an Inuit kayak probably dating from 1577 AD !

The invention of the kayak
The invention of the kayak. Photo credit : wili hybrid / Wikipedia

Initially these clothes with large hood were used for babies, so that they withstand the conditions of extreme cold of these regions. Let us not forget that the Inuit are a nomadic people and that they also had to transport their babies in the coldest weather. Obviously, the materials used were animal skins: seal or caribou for parkas.

The invention of the baby parka
The invention of the parka for children and babies. Photo credit : Fiona Paton / Flickr

The invention of snowshoes

During the last winter holidays, the ski slopes were closed, you may have put on snowshoes for long walks! Some historians believe that the first snowshoes appeared far from the Inuit, in Central Asia 5,000 years ago, but that they were improved by the Inuit. The current snowshoes would be inspired by the Inuit. Placed under the feet, they allow these peoples to move more easily in the fresh snow by increasing the lift. They are mainly used during population migrations.

The invention of snowshoes
The invention of snowshoes. Photo credit : katpatuka / Wikipedia

The invention of the fishing harpoon

Called Kakivar in Inuit, the fishing harpoon is one of their most important inventions! Made with a long wooden handle that splits into an open bow, it forms a sort of trident that helps neutralize aquatic prey. At the end of the trident, a sharp bone or a metal tip allows them to be able to catch fish with something other than a simple fishing rod!

The fishing harpoon
The invention of the fishing harpoon. Photo credit : CambridgeBayWeather / Wikipedia

The creativity of the Inuit is immense, and sometimes don’t the best inventions come from an absolute necessity to survive ?

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