The distributions of Eskimo folktales are used as a means to examine interaction and population movements of prehistoric and protohistoric peoples from Siberia to Greenland. The extent to which folktales are shared between regional groups, dialect divisions, and language areas is used to infer the diffusion of tales across cultural boundaries, retention and loss of ar- chaic forms, and areas of independent invention. These patterns are examined in relation to models of arctic prehistory. The relative lack of overlap between bodies of oral literature be- tween the Eastern and Western Arctic further complicates the enigmatic picture of Dorset-Thule succession. Given a model of recent Thule expansion to the east, a much greater similarity is ex- pected between Alaskan Inupiat and Canadian-Greenlandic Inuit than is observed. Patterns of folklore distributions are more supportive of a single, earlier migration without a subsequent re- placement of Dorset culture.
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