This photo was taken in November 2006 near a town called Nes in the Nenets Autonomous District in Northwest Russia. The Nenets people are indigenous people in Russia that live in the Arctic region. Think of what it would be like to open your door to spy a reindeer in the morning!
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of Julia Vishnevets
There are people of different cultures and backgrounds who live in the Arctic region. Read on to learn more about two of these cultures.
The Inuit are the native cultures that continue to live on coastal areas of Arctic tundra in Canada, Alaska (USA), Siberia (Russia), and Greenland. Over this broad area there are many different groups of people. Some share common ancestors, others probably do not, but most have similar ways of living in the Arctic. Inuit traditionally hunted for seals, whales, polar bears, caribou, birds and other animals from the ocean and the tundra. Inuit people invented the kayak and used these small boats to hunt for Arctic marine animals. Because of a great respect for these animals, Inuit have traditional customs that must be followed during a hunt. Inuit myths were inspired by the environment that they lived within including the magical appearance of the aurora in the night sky, the long dark winters, and the icy Arctic Ocean. Explore more about Inuit culture by visiting the links below.
Norse people were originally from Scandinavian countries. During the Middle Ages, between approximately 850 and 1066 AD, groups of Norse explorers and warriors called Vikings raided and colonized other regions within and near the Arctic such as Greenland, Iceland, and northern Russia (as well as warmer, lower latitude locations too). Today, many people living in these countries are descendants of the Norse people.
The Norse were excellent boat builders, crafting vessels out of wood called longships, which could travel across large expanses of ocean. There were many oars along the sides of the boat and often one square sail. Vikings would row the oars and wind would fill the sail, propelling the boat. The Norse people, including the Vikings, were known to be excellent storytellers. Explore some of the myths from the Norse people in the links below.
The Earth: Midgard
The Sea: Aegir
The winds: Njord
The Thunder: Thor
The sky: Tyr
The Sky: Odin
The Aurora: Freya
The Northern Lights: The Valkiries
The Sun: Freyr
The Planet Venus: Sif
The Milky Way: Bifrost
The Norse Family Tree
The Sun: Malina
The Moon: Anningan
The Sea: Sedna
Last modified June 18, 2007 by Lisa Gardiner.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!Cool It!
is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store
You might also be interested in:
What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?...more
The polar aurora is formed when Field-Aligned currents (FAC's) short-circuit through the atmosphere. Particles from the Sun traveling along magnetic field lines collide with particles in the atmosphere....more
Midgard is the realm where human beings live. Midgard, the Earth, was created from the flesh of the primeval giant Ymir. The supreme god Odin and his brothers Vili and Ve slayed the giant and formed the...more
Njord was the god of the sea and winds in Norse mythology. He is the father of Freyr (Lord) and Freya (Lady) and leader of the Vanir. Njord married the giantess Skadi when he visited Asgard, the home of...more
In the early centuries after the birth of Christ, Tyr was not only the sky god but also the god of war in the Scandinavian pantheon. Warriors would put his initial on their weapons to give them help. Tyr...more
The Norse mythology associates the aurora with the goddess Freya. Freya was the goddess of beauty and love. The fifth day of the week, Friday was named after her. Her twin brother is the sun god Freyr...more
It has been suggested that the northern lights, or aurora, represented the reflections of the shields of the Valkiries in Norse mythology. The Valkiries, whose name means "Chooser of the fallen", were...more
Scandinavian story-tellers spoke little about goddesses, who were rarely the chief characters of their stories. Sif was the wife of the mighty Thor, the god of thunder. Sif was mostly cited for her conjugal...more