Tundra by Anthropology Student Sabrina Klein
The tundra is no real place for anyone to live for long period of time without the proper materials. The sun can disappear for months or shine constantly for the same time periods. The solar winds of the sub beat upon the skies to create paintings of light that to lower technologies may seem to be the magic of the heavens. This is a very cold, cold place. When world-building in the tundra this is one ecology where knowing the specifics is very important. For every one degree closer to the equator the timberline will raise 360 feet. It is there for possible to have tundra on the equator but the mountain would have to be extremely high. Vegetation is minimal and the fauna not as diverse as any other ecology. Tundra flora grows very low to the ground due to wind and other restrictive elements.
Economics: Economics of a culture living in tundra would be one trade system. Mining might be an option; usages of the mining tunnels might begin from the expansion of living quarters. Living underground usually has a constant temperature of 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit approximately. If not living in underground environment then hunting for fur would be essential to survival, but would also make an economic basis for trade for goods not obtainable in the tundra.
Language: Language would tend to evolve from the base language brought with them, and/or be part of a larger language group that was spoken by a trading community that hunted over a large area. If they were living in an underground area they may never encounter another language. Their language would remain unchanged with evolution halted or on its own. It may evolve to a point that the parent language may have little or nothing in common with it over many centuries or even as little as decades, usually longer time frames are required to change language that much from the parent vernacular.
Kinship & descent: Kinship in a group such as this would become very important. Small populations would quickly become small because of the universal taboo of incest. Almost all cultures of the world have a taboo against incest. There have been parts of cultures that take part in it, and have paid the price later. Therefore introduction of new bloodlines into the community would be very important. There may be rituals or festivals where groups come together and mass marriage ceremonies are done. This solidifies ties to surrounding communities and serves to keep the genetic pool in a community from getting to small and causing problems.
Organization & leadership: Leadership could be anything. It would most likely depend upon if the group in question was isolated or had contact with others and how much. Isolated groups would lean more toward a highly stratified unity of leadership. While a group with more contacts may be influenced to have leadership ties of some kind with a separate group. The divisions could be matriarchal or patriarchal or a mixture of both.
Religion & Magick: Religion among a people who live in such a desolate place or those who would live underground may be steeped in folklore. A place where winter is long and traps its inhabitants with in the snow is often the place of storytellers. Stories are told often when there is nothing else to do. There are other places which stories are generated and storytellers are an integral part of the culture, but in an ecology where 8 months of the year is outside the growing season fire may be essential to survival along with the hunt. Gods of these things may become so important because the material representation transforms into iconic figures within the mythology of the people. That doesn’t mean those are the only things that may become iconic. The gods’ purpose is to explain things that humanity (and other races) can’t explain such as; emotions, natural occurrences, and other things that are beyond mortal control.
World-building: Hypothetically a culture in this environment would possibly be a culture that lived within cave systems that were scattered throughout the tundra. Hunting on the surface but living where the winter has no or little effect. The group would move between cave systems either via underground passages or between the seasons. The group may have a matriarchal naming system and a patriarchal leadership. Lineage would be tracked through the mother so that her heritage would be clear. That would account for origins of the groups from village to village, so people new whom they were related to.
The god of fire would be very important and considered a good deity while the goddess of snow and ice would be a harsh and unyielding force. The summer and harvest festivals would be times of marriage and celebration. Each time would be an opportunity to rejoice in the fact that they had survived another year, or a good harvest had been secured for the winter months. Storytelling may be the province of a religious specialist or possibly the eldest people of the community. There by giving the elders a sense of purpose and a respect from the younger generation. Elder people in some cultures where survival is difficult sometimes may be regarded as a burden. However, in this case they are given a cultural relevance that is unprecedented for the young. Economic relationships would generate with outsiders more over by chance or habit. Either way very limited. The limited access also means that language would change little from outside influence, and more from internal change.