Article below is by Jeff Elder, a columnist for The Charlotte Observer. Intended to bring it to the board yesterday for Valentines Day but was out of town most of the day. Why do Eskimos rub noses rather than kiss? It's not so much rubbing noses as sniffing someone you love--their nose, cheeks, forehead--in a nuzzily show of affection. And it's not done instead of kissing. It's usually a greeting rather than a romantic overture. In fact, in some northern cultures this is only done between mothers and children. So the mental image we have of the "Eskimo kiss" is misleading. And that's true of some other stereotypes. For instance, there's not one Eskimo people. There's the Kalaallit in Greenland, the Inuvialuit in Canada, and the Inupiaq, Yuplit, and Alutiiq in Alaska - just to name a few. Some Alaskan indigenous people accept the term Eskimo. Other peoples consider it offensive, because it was a label applied by Europeans and others. The arctic peoples of Canada and Greenland in general prefer the term Inuit. And while some peoples did once live in ice block houses in central and eastern Canada, igloos were rare in Greenland and unknown in Alaska. Few remain anywhere now. Sometimes our mental images are a little cartoonish, not to mention unfair. So what is behind nose-rubbing? David Joanasi, information officer of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a group representing the Inuit, says he grew up with this custom in northern Canada. In his culture "it's called a kunik," he says. "When you're an infant and a little kid, your parents and grandparents and older siblings sniff you and rub your face with their nose." When partners come home at night they might share a kunik to smell each other and nuzzle. There are scent glands in the cheeks, and rediscovering their smell this way is intimate and loving. "I do it to my girlfriend," Joanasi says. "But I wouldn't do it in front of a large audience, the same way you wouldn't French kiss your partner in front of a bunch of kindergartners." Yet it's not a big part of lovemaking, like kissing. "No, it's not like kissing in that way," Joanasi says. "It's just affectionate." Erin Eckman, who is half-Inupiaq, works for the Alaska Native Heritage Center. "Growing up in Alaska, I only really saw women do it to babies," she says. So if nose-rubbing isn't done instead of kissing, do native peoples of the North kiss? "Sure," she says.