Ethnographers commonly classify indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada into ten geographical regions with shared cultural traits (called cultural areas).

The following list groups peoples by the Arctic region.
The Arctic culture area is a cold, flat, treeless region (actually a frozen desert) near the Arctic Circle in present-day Alaska, Canada and Greenland.

It is home to the Inuit and the Aleut. The Inuit and Aleut groups speak dialects descended from what scholars call the Eskimo-Aleut language family.

Because it is such an inhospitable landscape, the Arctic’s population was and is comparatively small and scattered.

Arctic Tribes MapSome of its peoples, especially the Inuit in the northern part of the region, were nomads, following seals, polar bears and other game as they migrated across the tundra.

In the southern part of the region, the Aleut were a bit more settled, living in small fishing villages along the shore.

This section provides general information for collective groupings of tribes, bands, and villages who share cultural traits and live in the Arctic geographical region.

See Alaskan Natives A to Z for information specific to individual federally recognized tribes or villages in Alaska, which may not apply to all tribes who share their culture group.

Click image to enlarge.

Location:Alaska, parts of Canada, eastern Siberia (Russia), and Greenland

Also see: Villages by Region

The Arctic Region

The Arctic Culture Area spreads across northern North America and is an area which can be described as a cold desert.

It is a region which lies above the northernmost limit of tree growth. The area has long, cold winters and short summers. Everything freezes for 9 to 10 months of the year.

Cold, icy winters have below freezing temperatures and small amounts of daylight.

During the summer, the tundra becomes boggy and difficult to cross, and has long periods of daylight, up to 20 hours a day.

The Arctic Region runs across modern northern Canada and the two oceans from modern Siberia to Greenland (5000 miles long). It includes 3 oceans and the Arctic circle.

Paleo-Eskimo, prehistoric cultures, Russia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, 2500 BCE–1500 CE

Arctic small tool tradition, prehistoric culture, 2500 BCE, Bering Strait

Pre-Dorset, eastern Arctic, 2500–500 BCE

Saqqaq culture, Greenland, 2500–800 BCE)

Independence I, northeastern Canada and Greenland, 2400–1800 BCE

Independence II culture, northeastern Canada and Greenland, 800–1 BCE)

Groswater, Labrador and Nunavik, Canada

Dorset culture, 500 BCE–1500 CE, Alaska, Canada

Aleut (Unangan), Aleutian Islands of Alaska, and Kamchatka Krai, Russia

Inuit (Eskimo), Eastern Siberia (Russia), Alaska (United States), Canada, Greenland (Denmark)

  • Thule, proto-Inuit, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, 900–1500 CE
    • Birnirk culture, prehistoric Inuit culture, Alaska, 500 CE–900 CE
    • Greenlandic Inuit people, Greenland
      • Kalaallit, west Greenland
      • Avanersuarmiut (Inughuit), north Greenland
      • Tunumiit, east Greenland
    • Inuvialuit, western Canadian Arctic
    • Iñupiat, north and northwest Alaska

Yupik (Yup'ik and Cup'ik), Alaska and Russia

    • Alutiiq people (Sugpiaq, Pacific Yupik), Alaska Peninsula, coastal and island areas of south central Alaska
    • Central Alaskan Yup'ik people, west central Alaska
      • Cup'ik, Hooper Bay and Chevak, Alaska
      • Nunivak Cup'ig people (Cup'ig), Nunivak Island, Alaska
      • Siberian Yupik people, Russian Far East and St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
        • Chaplino
        • Naukan
        • Sirenik, Siberia

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Article Index:

Athabascan Language Groups in Alaska

There are eleven linguistic groups of Athabascan Indians in Alaska. Athabascan people have traditionally lived along five major river ways: the Yukon, the Tanana, the Susitna, the Kuskokwim, and the Copper river drainages. Athabascans migrated seasonally, traveling in small groups to … Continue reading

Eskimo Culture

Eskimos are indigenous peoples who have traditionally inhabited the circumpolar region from eastern Siberia (Russia), across Alaska (United States), Canada, and Greenland. There are two main groups that are referred to as Eskimo: Yupik and Inuit. A third group, the Aleut, is related.