Long ago the Arctic was a place of mystery and the unknown. Sailors traveling north from Europe found that it was so cold that the ocean froze forming a barrier that their ships not get through. Many explorers traveled to the Arctic in 1800's looking for a route that ships could use to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The route was called the Northwest Passage. There was also a race to be the first to travel to the North Pole. Scientists at the time believed that as you got closer to the North Pole the temperature would get warmer and warmer. They predicted that it would get so warm that the ice would melt and there might even be palm trees! These scientists were very wrong.
Explorers found the Arctic to be a harsh environment. They were surprised to find people living in the Arctic, including the Inupiat in Alaska and the Inuit in Greenland. In fact these people had been living quite happily in the Arctic for thousands of years. Wise explorers spent time living with these people and learning the ways and habits (iliqqusiq) of the Arctic.