Culture and climate change in the Arctic Ski boots worn by the Arctic Sami people of northern Norway. ( Don Hurlbert)
Culture and climate change in the Arctic
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It's hard to believe that people have been living in the Arctic for 40,000 years. How can people survive in such a harsh environment? And what would prompt them to stay?
 
Anthropologists who study Arctic cultures have discovered that it's quite a hospitable place for those who figure out how to get by. Hundreds of cultures have occupied the Arctic over time. These communities have adapted to life on the ice. They invented a variety of ways to get around and find the resources they need. Skis, dogsleds, reindeer, kayaks, and snowmobiles have helped Arctic people connect with each other and the natural resources.
 
Natural resources that sustain Arctic life include huge numbers of marine mammals. They include bowhead whales and ringed seals and massive herds of land animals such as caribou. An Arctic mammal offers a full set of essential supplies. From clothing to food to cooking oils, plus bones to make tools or boat frames.
 
Both people and the wildlife they depend on are closely connected to Arctic conditions. Small changes in temperature lead to large changes in sea ice.  The temperatures spur migrations and adaptations of animals and people. For thousands of years, Arctic people have been adjusting to seasonal variations and longer-term climate changes.
 
Find out more about how people in the Arctic adapt to changing conditions. Join us on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, for a Smithsonian Science How live webcast. It is titled Culture and Climate Change in the Arctic and airs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EST on the Q?rius website. Archaeologist Dr. Bill Fitzhugh from the National Museum of Natural History will appear live to discuss and answer questions. Get teaching resources to support your webcast experience.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Anthropologists who study Arctic cultures have discovered that it is quite a hospitable place for those who figure out how to get by. But that doesn't answer this question: What motivates them to stay?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (21)
  • darianv-3-bar
    10/30/2015 - 02:45 p.m.

    What motivates Arctic cultures to stay might be that they like being able to live in the nature and not have to depend on modern mechinery like cars, money, phones, etc. Knowing that you are equiped to survive in the wild might be fun. My evidence is that they said, "Arthropologists have discovered that the arctic is a pretty hospitable place for those who figure out how to get by."
    I thought this article is interesting because i would never be able to live in the arctic.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    10/30/2015 - 09:58 p.m.

    Seeing how people lived in the Arctic hundreds of years ago. and even today, is very encouraging. I would never be able to stand the cold, but those that do show a lot of strength, determination, and intelligence. Humans came up with amazing technology to help them survive in the harsh conditions.

  • mikolajs-day
    11/01/2015 - 08:28 p.m.

    What motivates them to stay in Antarctica is the ability to be self-sufficient. They are able to do everything on their own. They can caught there own food and build there own house with the natural resource around. Some people don't like relying on other people to do things they could do on there own.

  • alexir-3-bar
    11/02/2015 - 11:01 p.m.

    What might motivate people to stay in the Arctic is that their culture and life has been built in around the Arctic. For many years different cultures and groups have adapted to life in the Arctic. For them to unlearn all of their ways and to leave behind their culture would be a difficult thing to do. So instead of dealing with all these obstacles, they've decided to stay. I found this article very interesting because it shows you how much people will do to stay close to their past and how much they will adapt.

  • tyn-2-bar
    11/09/2015 - 09:34 p.m.

    The nature of any animal is to survive. If the people up in the arctic can survive there, then what is there worry about. Humans don't like change either unless there is a need for it. So if one can survive in an area, then why should it be required to move to a different area? I think that the arrogance of every other country that will not be greatly affected by global warming should be held responsible for these actions on the arctic people. I do not like how we and the other countries destroy the environment.

  • paigec-sla
    11/11/2015 - 11:36 a.m.

    This article is about people that live in Arctic and how they have to learn to adapt to the climate and the climate changes. This story reminds me of the Indian tribe called the Inuit because the Inuit live in the same conditions as the people that live in the Arctic.

  • austinh-
    11/12/2015 - 07:56 p.m.

    I think if you were born there and have a family that is used to it you can't leave. It's one of those things you can't give it up. They have traditions and customs that they might not be able to do if they leave. In the Arctic you can walk outside and just hop on your snowmobile or dogsled and go fishing. Other places you might not be able to do that.

  • abbyh-sut
    11/21/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    I think that it's their culture and their family that motivates them to stay because if they move to a different country they have to find a living a,family, and they have to get used to the climate, the culture, and the different celebrations. Plus their family back in the arctic will start to miss you and they will feel lonely without that person because I know that I would feel that way.

  • hannad-sch
    12/09/2015 - 06:13 p.m.

    Question 5:
    This relates to me because my mom's country, the Faroe Islands, is changing as this one. It used to be a very "old soul" type of place. But now because of the new technology, it is a vast changing culture.

  • jasminec-6-bar
    1/04/2016 - 08:11 p.m.

    The main reason people stay in Antarctica is the fact that they want a connection to their ancestors and the wildlife that calls the Arctic their home.they may also want to stay because of the isolation from populated areas.
    I thought that this article was very interesting because I think that it is really cool that people would actually be motivated by anything to live in such a harsh environment.

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