Eli5: Why did civilizations such as the Pre Dorset, Thule, and Inuit not migrate south if their environments were so harsh and extreme?


I read a few articles where some of these civilizations main focus was keeping warm because they were located so far north. So why would they not migrate more south?

In: 661

They didn’t really know that there was anything else. For all they knew, it was the same further north, south, ot east.

They didn’t know it was warmer south. They knew how to live where they were, how to get all the resources they needed to survive where they were.

It’s a function of power. More powerful groups occupied better regions. Less powerful groups were pushed to the less hospitable regions. After a time cultures developed allowing the survival in certain inhospitable regions.

One had to be careful not to stray too far outside your territory since there was a good chance those folks would kill you if they found you.

That’s where their lives were.

Why don’t YOU move hundreds of miles away from your home for no reason?

Because that’s not where your life is.

These people weren’t stupid.

They knew the climate was different from place to place.

They knew other cultures existed and thrived in different climates. They traded and interacted with neighboring cultures.

Hunter-gatherer tribes in far northern climates could get to those other climates if they wanted to. They traveled over a wide area — they had to, to find the resources to survive in that environment.

And throughout history, many hunter-gatherer civilizations *have* migrated from place to place, and it’s been possible in many cases for individuals to emigrate from one hunter-gatherer culture into another.

So why didn’t everybody leave?

Because they were surviving where they were, and some people liked their life the way it was.