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Dorset stone long house

Remain of Dorset stone longhouse

Tuniit, Tuniq or Sivullirmiut is legendary race from Inuit mythology. According to legend, they were first inhabitants in their land and described as tall people who were taller and stronger than the Inuit, but easily scared off and extremely shy. Most of the evidence demonstrates that by 1500 they had essentially disappeared, but maybe isolated remnants of them still survive.

The Dorset

Scholars and scientist called them Dorset culture (500 BCE–1500 CE) that preceded the Inuit culture in Arctic North America. It is named after Cape Dorset in Nunavut, Canada where the first evidence of its existence was found. The culture has been defined as having four phases due to the distinct differences in the technologies relating to hunting and tool making. Artifacts include distinctive triangular end-blades, soapstone lamps, and burins.

The Dorset were first identified as a separate culture in 1925. Archaeology has been critical to adding to knowledge about them because the Dorset were essentially extinct by 1500 due to difficulties in adapting to the Medieval Warm Period. The Thule, who began migrating east from Alaska in the 1000s, began the displacement of the Dorset. However a small, isolated community of people known as the Sadlermiut survived until 1902-1903 at Hudson Bay on Coats, Walrus, and Southampton islands. DNA testing has confirmed these people were directly related to the Dorset culture.

Interaction with Inuit

Ours nageant (Musée du quai Branly)

Carving of a polar bear

But until know archaeologists couldn't find evidence if Inuit and the Dorset existed in same place and same time like stated in Inuit stories. "A huge and controversial and sort of major issue in the whole Arctic past is whether the two actually did meet," University of Toronto archaeologist Max Friesen said.

He also said whether Inuit and Tuniit actually interacted is another mystery he and his team are hoping to solve. There is still very little evidence that proves the two groups were in direct contact with each other.

Inuit legend already knows the answer to that question. Inuit and Tuniit intermarried, which is why Inuit today vary in height. But again, there is no evidence if they were actually meet.

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