Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by WonderTeam. WonderTeam Wonders, “Who Are the Indigenous People of the Arctic?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, WonderTeam!

For today’s Wonder of the Day, we’re headed north. We may see a few polar bears, puffins, and even reindeer. But one thing is certain: There will be plenty of snow and ice. That’s right! Today, we’re learning about the Arctic—and the people who’ve lived there for thousands of years.

Where exactly is the Arctic? It isn’t marked by a border or line of latitude. Instead, it is the region of the world surrounding the Arctic Ocean. In general, this zone includes land that is too far north to support most agriculture.

Today, around four million people live in the Arctic. About 10 percent of them belong to Indigenous cultures that have long lived in the region. In fact, the Arctic is home to more than 40 ethnic groups. They live across Alaska (U.S.A.), Canada, Greenland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia.

The Indigenous cultures of the Arctic are widespread and diverse. They include the Inuit people, a culture made up of several unique groups across Canada, Greenland, and Alaska. Others include the Saami, Aleut, Yupik, Chukchi, and several other Indigenous groups.

Each of these cultures has its own unique customs and traditions. However, they also have a lot in common with one another. For instance, all Indigenous groups living in the Arctic have a close relationship with the land they live on. 

If you’re used to a warmer climate, the Arctic region may seem inhospitable. But to the Indigenous people who have lived there for generations, it’s plentiful. If you live in the region, you know it’s full of resources. You just need to know where and when to look for them. 

Most Arctic peoples engage in hunting and fishing. These activities are a main source of food. After all, it’s difficult to grow crops in the region! Many Indigenous cultures in the area also herd animals such as reindeer.

Today, Arctic Indigenous people have another thing in common: the effects of climate change. The warming climate has led to melting permafrost. It has also caused changes in the migration patterns of many animals. This affects people’s way of life and access to food sources.

Many Indigenous cultures of the Arctic have spoken out about the effects of climate change. Their advocacy resulted in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Completed in 2005, it was the first report of its kind. It outlined the impacts of climate change on the Arctic and made the case for protections

Today, the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic continue to live in harmony with the land. Many continue to push for environmental protections. And, of course, they carry on the customs and traditions that have been passed down for thousands of years.

What traditions run in your family? Is the area you live in affected by climate change? Today, take some time to learn more about a culture different from your own. You may just find something you have in common!

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L6, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.8, CCRA.W.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.W.1, CCRA.W.7

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will give you a front-row SEAT to learn all about a Native American icon!