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Dog Teams

Dog team approaching Qaummaarviit Park. Taken in June at midnight, with the sea ice beginning to melt.

Back-to-the-land support system

Traditionally Inuit were a nomadic people, continually on the move searching for animals. They walked huge distances, usually with only a few dogs to help pull their entire possessions. The dogs were valuable; in winter they could pull heavy loads on a qamutiq (sled) for long distances without having to be fed too often and in summer were used as pack animals as the people wandered over the tundra. They were not pets but semi-wild working animals that could offer protection by providing both an alarm system and a fighting support team for hunters when confronting polar bears, as well as for sniffing out seals at seal holes.

By the 1970s, the qimmiq (the Inuit sled dog) had been so diluted as a breed that a program was developed in the Western Arctic to restore the strain to its original integrity.

Nowadays running dog teams has started to make a comeback in recreational and commercial ventures, usually involving larger teams, and is popular in back-to-the-land projects for youth, in regional competitions and in tourism programs.