Anthropological Considerations On The Human Colonization Of Mars:
Insights From The Indigenous Peoples Who First Settled The Earth's Arctic
The High Arctic has been the latest region of the earth to be peopled by societies which live "off the land" in the sense of the proposed Mars Direct plan. At latitudes beyond 70ˇ north, environmental factors necessarily include some of this planetŐs extremes for cold, wind, darkness and brightness, both cyclical and non-cyclical food shortages, periodic shortages of fuel (for cooking, lighting, heating, and transportation), limited choices for construction materials, and associated social constraints.
Although humans had made use of arctic resources seasonally since the time of our Neanderthal ancestors, no human societies existed in the Arctic year-round until the PaleoEskimos of the Arctic Small Tool Tradition settled the North American coast of the Arctic Ocean (including Devon Island) to within 700 km of the North Pole at the end of the third millennium BCE. No human settlements exist further poleward today than the Inuhuit (Polar Eskimos) of northwestern- most Greenland. (Antarctica is an extremely useful model of frontier entry in the 20th century, albeit of a region colonized but not settled.)
Here I examine aspects of how seasonal migrations, exploratory expeditions, and multi-year immigrations took place, both among so-called PaleoEskimo and NeoEskimo societies, whose descendants call themselves Inuit. I thus aim to provide an overview of some of the coherency among Eskimo cultural features (ethical, social, linguistic, epistemological, aesthetic, legal, technological, pedagogical, and political economic systems) fine-tuned for survival and subsistence in extreme environments over the past five millennia.