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Eskimo (// ESS-kih-moh) or Eskimos are the indigenous circumpolar peoples who have traditionally inhabited the northern circumpolar region from eastern Siberia (Russia) to Alaska (United States), Northern Canada, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, and Greenland.
The two main peoples known as Eskimo are the Inuit (including the Alaskan Iñupiat, the Greenlandic Inuit, and the Inuit peoples of Canada) and the Yupik (or "Yuit") of eastern Siberia and Alaska. A third northern group, the Aleut, are closely related to both. They share a relatively recent common ancestor and a language group, Eskimo-Aleut.
Many Inuit, Yupik, Aleut and other individuals consider the term Eskimo to be unacceptable. The word has no exact synonym, and stems from the Montagnais ayas̆kimew: "netter of snowshoes".
The non-Inuit sub-branch of the Eskimo branch of the Eskimo-Aleut language family consists of four distinct Yupik languages, two used in the Russian Far East and St. Lawrence Island, and two used in western Alaska, southwestern Alaska, and the western part of Southcentral Alaska. The extinct language of the Sirenik people is sometimes argued to be related to these.
There are more than 183,000 Eskimo people alive today, of which 135,000 or more live in or near the traditional circumpolar regions. The NGO known as the Inuit Circumpolar Council claims to represent 180,000 people.
The governments in Canada and the United States have made moves to cease using the term Eskimo in official documents, but it has not been entirely eliminated, as the word is in some places written into tribal, and therefore national, legal terminology. Canada officially uses the term Inuit to describe the Native people living in the country's northernmost sector. The United States government legally uses Alaska Native for the Yupik, Inuit, and Aleut, but also for non-Eskimo indigenous Alaskans including the Tlingit, the Haida, the Eyak, and the Tsimshian, in addition to at least nine separate northern Athabaskan/Dene peoples. The designation Alaska Native applies to enrolled tribal members only, in contrast to individual Eskimo/Aleut persons claiming descent from the world's "most widespread aboriginal group".