An inuksuk (from the Inuktitut: ᐃᓄᒃᓱᒃ, plural ᐃᓄᒃᓱᐃᑦ; alternatively inukshuk in English or inukhuk in Inuinnaqtun) is a stone landmark or cairn built by humans, used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America. These structures are found from Alaska to Greenland. This region, above the Arctic Circle, is dominated by the tundra biome and has areas with few natural landmarks. The word inuksuk means "something which acts for or performs the function of a person". The word comes from the morphemes inuk ("person") and -suk ("ersatz" or "substitute"). An inuksuk is often confused with an inunnguaq, a cairn representing a human figure. There is some debate as to whether the appearance of human- or cross-shaped cairns developed in the Inuit culture before the arrival of European missionaries and explorers. The size of some innaguait suggest that the construction was often a communal effort. The inuksuit — particularly, but not exclusively, of the inunnguaq variety — also are increasingly serving as a mainstream Canadian national symbol.
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