Caribou (Tuttu)

Background Information


The Iñupiaq people have historically lived in the northernmost parts of Alaska. People of different nations who spoke the same language (called Inuktitut in the Canadian Arctic) have lived across northern Canada and into Greenland.

Alaska's North Slope

This map shows the contemporary Inupiaq villages Alaska's North Slope.

For millennia, the Iñupiaq people of the North Slope and other parts of Alaska have depended on niqipiat, which are traditional Iñupiaq foods, particularly the great variety of meat and fats found in their land and sea animals, fish and birds. One particular animal, the caribou or tuttu, provided most of raw materials for:

  • Clothing and tent covers
  • Sleeping bags and blankets
  • Antlers and bones provided the raw materials for handles and grips, tools, utensils and weapons
  • Tuttu meat, fat marrow and viscera form an important part of the diet of the people of the North Slope, as caribou continues to be an important source of food for the Iñupiat and other Alaska Natives.