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Eskimo Land

The far north counterpart to Injun Country, and part of the Hollywood Atlas. Expect any Inuit villages to be a mishmash of outdated stereotypes. Polar Bears and Penguins are the only wildlife features in the otherwise blank white landscape. The plant life is non-existent, the snow never ever thaws. The only people around are Eskimo who never, ever take off their parkas, and they spend each and every day dog sledding, ice fishing, and seal hunting. They eat nothing but blubber, their ice igloos are their permanent residences (rather than their actual use as temporary shelter), and they know nothing about the modern world. And, of course, they send their old people off to die on ice floes.

Note: In some places, especially Canada, the word "Eskimo" itself is considered politically incorrect. It's a mispronunciation of Inuit ("The people" in Inuktitut), with "Inuk" being the term for an individual of this group, thus "Inuits" is not the plural. On the other hand, "Inuit" itself is specific to a single Eskimo people, and in some places Eskimos who aren't Inuit welcome being called Inuit about as much as Welshmen relish being called English. The native people of Canada (and also the far north of the U.S.A.) are more generally known as the First Nations...except by the Inuit. "First Nations" are the groups formerly called "Indians", and Inuit are very clear they are not part of that grouping.

Also, as a side note, this stereotype has even less basis in reality than most—they have a cultural tendency towards Hot Bloodedness (and, in common with other First Nations/Native peoples, an unfortunate propensity to alcoholism), have had a very bloody history with intertribal warfare, and will quite cheerfully use modern technology to make their lives a bit easier. Snowmachines are very popular, and rifle hunting is a favorite pastime. And Elders (at least in Canada), especially those who actually grew up in a more traditional lifestyle, generally tend to think that anyone pining for the Good Old Days before modern conveniences, technology and medicine is utterly insane.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Strips 
  • This trope is a staple of many classic comic strips of the 1900s until the 1970s.

    Film 
  • The first major documentary film, Nanook of the North, helped perpetuate a lot of these stereotypes, as exact realism was not a major concern for documentarians in those days.
    • For instance, Flaherty asked the local Inuit to hunt down a walrus with harpoons instead of the guns that they ordinarliy used.
  • Rob Reiner's North abuses this trope horribly, giving the film's title two meanings.
  • Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner is different considering it's a feature film made by an Inuit director and cast.
  • Sannikov Land is set on an island in the far north populated by a tribe called the Onkilon.
  • Big Miracle is better than most considering it's based on a true story and depicts the Inupiat community realistically having to deal with the political implications of the whale rescue.
  • Eskimo was the first film in the US to have been scripted in a Native Alaskan language. While it deals with Noble Savage stereotypes, it was interesting in certain details:the lead actor was actually a half-Russian Jewish, half-Alaska Native, and some of the hunting scenes are not faked at all, they are real.

    Literature 
  • In HP Lovecraft's Call of Cthulhu, there's a branch of the Cthulhu cult in a small native tribe in Greenland. Notably, Lovecraft, true to form, uses the archaic spelling "Esquimeaux".
  • The Incomparable Atuk, a novel about a Fish out of Water eskimo transplanted to Toronto whose movie script adaptation is reputed to be cursed.
  • This trope is utterly subverted in Lands Of Ice And Mice. The Thule (an Inuit culture that developed agriculture) are generally quite aggressive. And while they do build igloos, they are used almost exclusively for food storage.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 
  • Frank Zappa's "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" and Nanook Rubs It from Apostrophe (') tells the story of an Eskimo boy named Nanook, his favorite baby seal and a fur trapper.
  • Zigzagged with the album Eskimo by The Residents.
  • "Quinn the Eskimo" ("The Mighty Quinn") by Bob Dylan, which was Covered Up in the UK by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Zig-zags... or maybe subverts, or... Well, it does something unconventional with the trope by making the titular Inuk some kind of messianic figure.
  • The 1928 hit song "I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream," written by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, and Robert A.K. King, describes a fictional college in 'Eskimo-land' called "Oogie-wawa," where football games involve "gore and flying fur" and where the school cheer involves shouting nonsense words and demanding frozen treats. That was probably pushing the boundaries of good taste even for the 1920s.
  • "I'm the only gay Eskimo" by Corky and the Juice Pigs.
  • The Chukchi ensemble Ergyron performs both traditional Chukchi dances and modern songs about Chukchi life, and hopes to subvert some of the stereotypes people may have about the natives of the Far North.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Video Games 
  • Ice Climber is definitely set here, with yetis added in. There are no penguins though, keeping the theme strictly "North Pole."
  • Holoska from Sonic Unleashed, the northern polar ice cap of Sonic's world and its own country.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Zunari is a shopkeeper who is from "a very cold place" who looks the stereotype to a T. He wears his parka 24/7 even on the rather temperate island he lives on in the present. In its direct sequel Phantom Hourglass we find his apparent hometown and the people he was raised among. The Anouki (Petting Zoo People who are mostly humanoid penguins with reindeer antlers) are ice igloo-dwelling denizens of Slippy-Slidey Ice World and all wear nothing but blue parkas (okay, there are two with yellow ones as part of a sidequest.)

    Webcomics 
  • Riff and Torg from Sluggy Freelance seem to believe the entire state of Alaska is like this when Riff moves there.
    Torg: Snowshoes?
    Riff: Check.
    Torg: Parka?
    Riff: Check.
    Torg: Dogsled operational manual?
    Riff: Check.
    Torg: Polar bear repellant? Igloo-building kit? Penguin-bait, with included penguin cook-book?
    Riff: Check, check, and checkity-check.
    Torg: Send me back some walrus blubber?
    Riff: Just as soon as I get settled.
  • Possibly lampshaded in Friendly Hostility when Fox visits Fatima in Alaska.

    Western Animation 
  • Cartoon Network's What a Cartoon! featured an episode called "Pizza Boy," where the title character has to deliver a pizza in "five minutes" to Eskimos at the North Pole, who ordered pizza because they were sick of whale blubber.
    • The joke was based on a true story. In the early 1990s a McDonald's franchise was opened in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, the first one in northern Canada. Within a few months it became trendy for Inuit living in the far north to have McDonald's ship pizza and burger orders up via air cargo on the weekly transport. Even after the national office discontinued the McPizza, the Yellowknife franchise still carried them because the demand was so high. In 2000 the franchise earned more profit per square foot than any other franchise in Canada, and 20% of their income was from pizza.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, with their shared Far East fantasy setting, have the Southern and Northern Water Tribes, Fantasy Counterpart Cultures that draw primarily from Inuit culture with a smattering of other influences. Its presentation combines stereotypical elements (Polar Bears and Penguins via Mix-and-Match Critters yields Polar-Bear Dogs and four-winged Penguin Otters, as well as Tiger-Seals, Koala Seals and Sea Ravens) with more accurate and original details in costume and setting design (they live in tents, have outfits other than parkas, unique and varied beaded hairstyles, and so on).
    • Additionally, they're much more urbanized and technologically developed than most examples of this trope, particularly by the time Korra takes place, where they not only have at least two major cities, but snowmobiles, jet skis, and even battleships. The Southern Water Tribe even has one of the world's biggest companies (one that invented film, at that).
  • Nanooks Great Hunt, a fairly obscure animated series about an Inuit boy on a quest to save his father, who has been captured by a malevolent Polar Bear god. Set in the late 19th century or thereabouts, many episodes revolved around the culture clash between the traditional Inuit ways & the encroaching modern world.
  • Averted in the Greenland episode of Kika And Bob (which is kinda surprising, considering that this animated series often embraces ethnic stereotypes): The Inuits of Greenland live in houses and resent being called "eskimos".
  • An episode of Hey Arnold! ends with Helga's sister Olga going to Alaska "to teach desperate and underprivileged Inuit children". While they did at least update the terminology, the school building is a lone igloo without electricity in the middle of a frozen wasteland.

    Other 
  • This is the usual setting for Russian "Chukchi" joke stories about natives of Chukotka, who are basically same people as Eskimos, except they live on the Siberian side of the Bering Strait.


Canada, Eh?Hollywood AtlasHula and Luaus
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