Tornit

North American Inuit name for the earlier Dorset culture of the Canadian Arctic, though sometimes mistaken for a Cannibal Giant tradition.

Etymology: Inuktitut (Eskimo-Aleut) word. Singular, Tuneq.

Variant names: Toonijuk (in northern Baffin Island, Nunavut), Toonikduak, Tuniqdjuait (at Home Bay, Baffin Island), Tunnit, Tutuatuin, Tuuniit.

Physical description: Tall man. Long arms. Long legs.

Behavior: Very strong. Used primitive meat-preparation techniques. Afraid of dogs. Said to have been hunted down and killed by the Thule culture, the ancestors of the modern Inuit. Lived in stone houses. Did not make kayaks or bows but used flint-headed lances and harpoons with bone or ivory heads.

Distribution: The Canadian Arctic; Labrador; Greenland.

Possible explanation: The pre-Inuit Dorset culture (800 B.C.-A.D. 1000) built summer longhouses roofed with skins anchored to stone foundations. They spent the winters in snow houses on the ice, hunting seals. The remains of their longhouse settlements are attributed to the Tornit.

Sources: Alfred L. Kroeber, "Tales of the Smith Sound Eskimo," Journal of American Folklore 12 (1899): 166-168; Ernest William Hawkes, "The Labrador Eskimo," Memoirs of the Canada Department of Mines Geological Survey 91 (1916): 143-150; Katherine Scherman, Spring on an Arctic Island (Boston: Little, Brown, 1956), pp. 157-164; Franz Boas, The Central Eskimo (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964), pp. 226-232; Robert McGhee, Canadian Arctic Prehistory (Toronto, Canada: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1978); Moreau S. Maxwell, Prehistory of the Eastern Arctic (Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press, 1985), pp. 127-128.

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