Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




David Damas




The resources of archaeological research, historical documents, and ethnographic literature are combined to present an analysis of the nature and effects of contact between American whaling vessels and a group of Hudson Bay Eskimos. The meeting in 1860 of American whalers and the Aivilingmiut, a subgrouping of the Iglulik Eskimos, is shown to be essentially a contact situation. First, there is a reconstruction of the aboriginal subsistence and settlement patterns of the Aivilingmiut, based on the accounts of Boas and Mathiassen. Next, an investigation is made of the nature of the interactions of the Aivilingmiut and the whalers between 1860 and 1919. The focus is on the economic and social relationships which developed between the two groups. A particular emphasis is placed on the introduction of items of western technology into the material culture of the Aivilingmiut. The data on the historical events are drawn largely from the logbooks of American whaling vessels which wintered in the Chesterfield Inlet, Cape Fullerton and Repulse Bay areas of Hudson Bay. Various changes appear in the subsistence and settlement patterns of the Aivilingmiut when contrasted with the reconstructed aboriginal patterns. These changes are correlated with the economic and social relationships which developed between the Aivilingmiut and the whalers, and with the innovations in Aivilik material culture. The principal changes in subsistence and 'settlement patterns which, it is suggested, resulted from the interaction of the Aivilingmiut and the whalers, are 1) the seal and walrus hunts were diminished in terms of the manpower devoted to them, but were held nearly stable in terms of time expended. Due to technological innovations, productivity increased; 2) the caribou and whale hunts were considerably intensified. The caribou hunt was intensified mainly in terms of its productivity; while the whale hunt was intensified both in terms of the time and manpower devoted to it, and in terms of its contribution to the subsistence of the Aivilingmiut; 3) during the presence of the whalers in Hudson Bay, the Aivilingmiut manifested a stronger terrestrial orientation in their subsistence activities than had been the case aboriginally; 4) settlement patterns were radically altered by a-southward population drift. The 'southern' Aivilingmiut, as spoken of by Boas and Mathiassen, did not exist as an entity until contact with the whalers drew the Repulse Bay Aivilingmiut south of their aborignal territory; 5) settlement patterns came to bear progressively less relation to subsistence activities as the relationships between the Aivilingmiut and the whalers became intensified; 6) a year-round semi-sedentary settlement pattern emerged during the whaling era. There was a gradual erosion of a seasonally divided society, characterized by winter aggregation and summer dispersion, and the development of a more unitary pattern; 7) a large-scale depletion in game resources along the northwest coast of Hudson Bay led to:the removal of the Aivilingmiut to Southampton Island near the end of the whaling era.

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