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Inuk model Willow Allen's latest TikTok on why calling someone an 'Eskimo' is derogatory is receiving praise online: 'I did not know this'

"The word Eskimo can be seen as a derogatory term and a name that the white man gave us," Allen said.

Willow Allen is using her platform to educate people on Inuit culture. (Image via Instagram/@willow.allen)
Willow Allen is using her platform to educate people on Inuit culture. (Image via Instagram/@willow.allen)

Willow Allen is using her platform to educate people on the correct terminology to address Inuit.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Inuk model took to TikTok to share the historical and cultural reasons behind the preference for "Inuit" over "Eskimo."

"People used to call us Eskimos. But now we are known as Inuit, although some still call themselves Eskimo. Where I'm from, we make something called Eskimo donuts. But the word Eskimo can be seen as a derogatory term and a name that the white man gave us," Allen said in the video which has earned more than 850,000 views.

She described a few different interpretations of the term "Eskimo," including "eaters of raw meat," "those strangers up the river" and "snowshoe-netter."

"But Inuit means, 'the people,' or 'the authentic' or 'real people,' which is based on the root of 'life' or 'living' in Inuktitut." Allen clarified, before explaining that "Inuit" is already plural, "Inuk" is the singular form and "Inuuk" denotes two people.

Allen introduced her audience to the diversity within the Inuit community, mentioning, "There are also different groups of Inuit. For example, my group is Inuvialuit, our language is Inuvialuktun and I am a Inuvialuk."

In the comments, many viewers shared their gratitude towards Allen for raising awareness about the respectful use of terms related to the Inuit community.

"Wow, I did not know this. Growing up in school they taught us [to say] Eskimos!" one TikTok user wrote.

"Thank you! I was confused about Inuit versus Inuk/Inuuk and how to use them," someone added.

"This whole time I thought Inuit and Eskimos were two different groups. Thank you for the information!" another penned.

"Thank you for your wisdom," a fan commented, while another shared, "Apologies for saying that word, I never understood the meaning of it. Thank you so much for informing us. It helps make the world a more informed place."

Earlier this week, Allen shared another TikTok lesson on Inuit culture. In the video, the 25-year-old explained the significance of traditional Inuit face tattoos while pondering on which ones she would plan to get on her own face.

"If I were to ever get them, I would want the lines beside the eyes," Allen said, noting it signifies "sharpening the vision" or "clarity of mind."

"To me, it would be very meaningful because my dad is an amazing hunter. When I was a kid, he would always take me hunting," she shared. "The tattoo meanings can vary and be personal."

Allen also explained that a vertical line on the chin represents "womanhood or becoming a woman." She admitted that since becoming a mom earlier this year, womanhood has taken on "a whole new meaning" for her.

In December 2023, Allen spoke to Yahoo Canada about receiving criticism online from people accusing her of not being Inuit or "pretending to be Indigenous."

"It can be frustrating to see people say that towards not even just me, but Indigenous people in general," she admitted. "To put people down for wanting to connect with their culture shows a colonizer mindset."

Allen, who splits her time between Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, is on a mission to dispel negative stereotypes about Indigenous peoples, like those involving alcoholism or residential schools.

"That's the only thing you know or hear about because of colonization, but a lot of people don't know the culture and how amazing of a lifestyle it is."

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