Tools & weapons of the inuit

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The Inuit are an indigenous group of people who live in the Arctic regions of Canada, the United States, Denmark and Russia. The Inuit developed a collection of tools and weapons that help them survive in the cold and hostile environment.


A kayak is a canoe designed to fit one person. It is used for fishing and transportation between ice patches to hunt seals. The kayak is made of animal skin stretched over a frame made of wood or animal bones. The kayak is steered and powered by the paddler. The paddle usually has a blade at each end.


A umiak is a speciality boat design for whale hunting. Several men are able to fit inside for longer hunting sessions. The umiak is made of animal skin on a wood frame or whale bones. The umiak is usually 20 to 30 feet long and can fit up to 30 men.


A harpoon is a spear designed for fishing. The head of the spear is barbed, which allows the spear to stay impaled in the animal. The harpoon is tied to a rope, which allows the hunter to throw the harpoon, impale the prey and then hoist it to the boat. The Inuit use harpoons to fish and for hunting seals and whales.

Bone Tools

The Inuit, because of their environment, make use of the entire animal that they kill. The meat is eaten, and the skin is used for clothing and to make tents and boats. The oil is used to waterproof clothes and boats, and the bones are used to make tools and boat structures. Bones are used to make knife handles, gouges, pins and projectile points.


Sleds are used for transportation and are powered by dogs or man. There are different types of sleds, depending on their use. Large sleds are used for hunting large animals such as caribou and elk; small sleds are used for hunting smaller animals such as seals. Large sleds are also used to transport families during seasonal relocation. Sleds are also used for racing and amusement. Sleds are made of wood or bones and are designed to be strong yet light. They are powered by four to 16 dogs.

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