Keepers of the Flame: Inughuit Women at Floeberg Beach, Nunavut, 1905-1909
Inuit women were instrumental in the success of many Arctic expeditions, none more than those led by Robert E. Peary in the early years of the 20th century. But their roles, and the challenges they faced, are only infrequently documented. In 1905-06 and 1908-09 some 50 Inughuit (Polar Inuit) men, women, and children temporarily left their omes in Northwest Greenland to live and work for Peary on northern Ellesmere Island Nunavut, as he tried to reach the North Pole. Recent archaeological work at the main occupation site for those expeditions, Floeberg Beach, along with studies of previously collected materials from that site and others in the area, along with archival research focused on unpublished journals and photographs has allowed us to document aspects of the daily lives of these families that go unremarked on in written sources. In particular, it is clear that key elements of every day activities such as lighting and heating homes, as well as cooking, were made more difficult by the remote location and restricted access to traditional fuel sources, compromising women’s abilities to fulfill both their symbolic and actual roles as keepers of the home. Here we will examine how new archaeological insights are changing our understanding of social interactions among the Inughuit, Peary, and his men on these two major expeditions.
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Cite this Record
Keepers of the Flame: Inughuit Women at Floeberg Beach, Nunavut, 1905-1909. Terry Brock, Thank Harpole. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437195)