History

The Inuit people have been given life from the lands they have inhabited for thousands of years. It has served Inuit in every aspect of life and the very land itself has been named from Nuna “the land”. For all its harshness and unforgiving elements it has still provided everything from which to live.

Shelter, warmth and drinking water come from snow, the land provides wildlife and berries, while the waters of the lakes, rivers and the ocean provides the greatest bounty of all. This great bounty provides food and furs, as well as the source for tools and oil to make the light and heat for the Qulliq.

As the people moved outward and adapted to the land around them they learned to read all the signs it provided to them to find their way to great hunting and fishing areas and always lead them home.

The following "Timeline of Inuit Social History" and Maureen's years of research, we present this timeline under her permission via the websites creative common license. Thank you Maureen Flynn-Burhoe for this great timeline.

Timeline of Inuit Social History

As I track Speechless statistics I noticed a growing interest in content collected as background to my graduate studies on the role of memory work and the historical and ethical components of stories told about Inuit, that I had uploaded to Web 2.0 sites through the Creative Commons License 3.0. I will slowly update and maintain if interest continues. This was developed as complementary material to my teaching, learning and research and is not intended as a comprehensive timeline. Speechless has been visited c. 250 times a day over the last week with a total of 75,000 visits (2008-06).
9000 BC Ice Age came to an end. Arctic climate warmed.
7000 BC Dogsleds used by Palaeo-Eskimo in northern Siberia?
3000 BC The Denbigh culture of western and northern Alaska dates as far back as this.
2500 BC Migration Theory: Paleao-Eskimos migrating across Arctic North America. (in McGhee, Robert)
2200 – 1500 BC Stable northern climate.
2000 BC Umingmak Palaeo-Eskimo site on Banks Island.
c.1700 BC Oldest known Early Palaeo-Eskimo portrait of a human, an ivory maskette found on Devon Island.
1800 BC Palaeo-Eskimos occupied most Arctic regions. Independence culture musk-ox hunters of the extreme Arctic regions.
2000 BC – 1 AD Worldwide environmental change. In the north: the first chill. Cooler summers.
2000 BC Cooler conditions set in North.
500 – 1 BC Early Dorset Tyara maskette found at Hudson Strait.
1 – 1500 Dorset culture.
1 – 600 AD Middle Dorset culture: Igloolik flying bear carving.
500s AD Legend: Irish monks in currachs sailed west and north?
800s AD Eric the Red and 1500 Icelanders travelled to Greenland’s southwest coast? The Norse landed in Labrador before
1000 AD and attempted to colonize along the coasts of Ungava, Baffin Island and Labrador. They were the first Europeans to reach the Canadian Arctic. (Hessell 1998:7) )
650 – 1250 AD Mediaeval Warm Period in Arctic North America.(McGhee 1997).
600 – 1300 AD Late Dorset culture, wand found on Bathurst Island.
1100 – 1700 AD Thule culture: bow-drill handle found near Arctic Bay, Baffin Island; swimming bird and birdwoman figurines found in the Eastern Arctic. (Illustration Hessel 1998:17)
c.1650 – 1840 AD Little Ice Age forced the Thule to break up into small, nomadic groups.
1576 ?Martin Frobisher, an uneducated pirate-mariner attempted to find the Northwest Passage. He encountered Inuit on Resolution Island. Five sailors jumped ship and became part of Inuit mythology. The homesick sailors tired of their adventure attempted to leave in a small vessel and vanished. Frobisher brought an unwilling Inuk to England. On his next trip to Baffin Island an Inuit hunter shot Frobisher in the buttocks with an arrow after Frobisher had lost a wrestling match?
1585 John Davis voyaged up Davis Strait.
1602 Henry Hudson travelled to the whaling grounds of Spitsbergen which became a source of great wealth to the British.
1616 Robert Bylot and William Baffin sailed to Hudson Bay. 1670 Hudson’s Bay Company newly formed is granted trade rights over all territory draining into Hudson Bay. The fur trade develops.
1749 The first trading was established at Richmond Gulf.
c. 1749 Trade of small stone carvings. The HBC began trading glass beads to the Caribou Inuit in the 18th century. Women used them to decorate parkas. Ivory cribbage boards with skrimshaw engravings (like the whalers) ere the most popular. (Hessel 1998:24)
1750s Moravian missionaries arrived in Labrador. (Hessell 1998:8)
1771 Moravian missionaries settled in Nain in northern Labrador heralding the beginning of the Historic Period. Well-crafted miniature carvings were traded with missionaries, whalers, explorers…
1770s – 1940s. The missionaries are said to have introduced the art of basketry to the Inuit (Watt 1980:13).
1771 Samuel Hearne of the HBC reached the Arctic coast at Coppermine.
1789 Alexander Mackenzie follows Mackenzie River to Beaufort Sea.
1880 British Crown transferred many of the Arctic Islands to Canada. These islands became part of the Territories. (Parker 1996:23)
1820. The “Hudson’s Bay Company opened a trading post called Great Whale River in 1820 on the site of today’s Kuujjuarapik. The main activities at the post were processing whale products of the commercial whale hunt and trading furs.” www
1821-3. D’Anglure (2002:205) stated that the British Naval Expedition (1821-3) led by Admiral Parry, which twice over-wintered in Foxe Basin, provided the first informed, sympathetic and well-documented account of the economic, social and religious life of the Inuit. Parry stayed in Igloolik over the second winter. Parry’s writings with pen and ink illustrations of Inuit everyday life (1824) and those of Lyon (1824) were widely read.
1822 William Parry’s expedition to Igloolik.
183? Captain George Back made the first descent of the Back River.
1830s – 1860s. A man named (Jimmy?) Fleming (b. 1830s?1860s?) remained behind when the whaling ship left the north. He was given an Inuktitut name and he married an Inuk. Jimmy Fleming was a traveler; Jimmy Fleming was Scottish or English more likely Scottish perhaps with prominent eyebrows like Jimmie Ekomiak Fleming. His son was Jimmy Ekoomiak Fleming (c.1865-1950s), Sarah Ekoomiak’s grandfather. Annie Weetaltuk, Johnny Weetaltuk’s cousin knew the story about the man called Fleming and she told William Ekomiak the story.
1850s – 1950s Christian missionaries spread throughout Arctic. 1860 – 1915 Second wave of contact. Whaling in Hudson Bay with foreign whalers: Scottish, American particularly in the Roes Welcome Sound.
1856 Two Anglican Church Missionary Society members working in the Hudsons’ Bay region, John Horden, at Moose Factory, and E. A. Watkins at Fort George, were producing material in syllabics for Inuit. Watkins noted in his diary of June 19, 1856, that an Inuit youth from Little Whale River wanted to learn syllabics very much so he worked with Watkins. Horden in Moose Factory and Watkins collaborated on producing some Bible selections in Inuktitut. Re: Sarah Ekoomiak’s story.
1861 Edward Belcher wrote an paper entitled ‘On the manufacture of works of art by the Esquimaux’ which is archived in the Department of Ethnography in the British Museum in London. See J. King Franks and Ethnography. This may be the first paper written on Inuit art., London, Department of Ethnography in the British Museum.http://pittweb.prm.ox.ac.uk/Kent/musantob/histmus5.html
1865 Pangnirtung has a long history associated with Scottish and American whaling. Whale oil made from animal fat was used as fuel. In 1865? petroleum was developed as fuel, replacing whale oil. Whaling had become became the largest industry in North America, with 20,000 American seamen out in a single whale-hunting from “… New England. P.(Houston, James. 1996:151).
1865 John Horden and Watkins met in London worked together to modify the Cree syllabic system to the Inuktitut language. The syllabic orthography was very easy to learn that and this enabled the Anglican Church to proselytize successfully over such a wide area of the Arctic. Inuit taught each other. With the assistance of well-travelled native assistants who worked with Peck, Bilby and Greenshield at Blacklead Island, and with Bilby and Fleming at Lake Harbour, a large number of Inuit who had never met a missionary nonetheless had access to the Bible and were able to read it in syllabics. Two of the best-known native assistants were Luke Kidlapik and Joseph Pudloo. As a boy Joseph Pudloo had learned syllabics in Reverend Fleming’ s senior class in Lake Harbour. Later he became Fleming’s sled driver, taking the missionary thousands of miles on visits to Inuit camps. After that he spent two years working with the Reverend B.P. Smith at Baker Lake, the first native assistant to work in a dialect markedly different from his own.
1865 Rawlings, Thomas The Confederation of the British North American Provinces; Their Past History and Future Prospects; Including Also British Columbia & Hudson’s Bay Territory; With a Map, and Suggestions in Reference to the True and Only Practicable Route from the Atlantic London Sampson Low, Son, and Marston 1865, first edition, octavo, xii, [1] -244 pp., 4 plates, large folding map, original flexible cloth covered boards, covers detached but present, scattered light foxing to text, else a good, clean copy. Early efforts of the explorer, geographer and navigator, Hudson’s Bay Co., the fur trade, Red River Settlement, Rocky Mountains, discovery of gold, railroads, etc. The plates include two early views of Victoria, British Columbia, one of St. Paul, Minnesota and a farm scene. Eberstadt 133:851; Decker-Soliday IV:483; Lande 1408; TPL 4442; Peel 206; Sabin 68006
1873 North-West Mounted Police.
1876 Reverend Peck established the first permanent Christian mission in Inuit territory at Little Whale River near Richmond Gulf.
1880 British Crown transferred many of the Arctic Islands to Canada. These islands became part of the Territories. (Parker 1996:23)
1880 The Indian Affairs Department was established. “Since Confederation, the responsibility for Indian Affairs and Northern Development rested with various government departments between 1873 and 1966. The minister of the Interior also held the position of Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs after the Indian Affairs Department was established in 1880.”
1880s – Whalers from San Francisco and Seattle whaled in the Beauford Sea. They wintered at Herschel Island. (Parker 1996:22) American whalers hunted in eastern Arctic. Greelandic Inuit hunted on Ellesmere Island (Tester 1993:14).
1882 An Anglican mission was established in Kujjuarapik in 1882 and a Catholic mission in 1890.
1883 Regina was named as capital of the Northwest Territories. The railway reached Regina. (Parker 1996:23)
1883-4 Anthropologist Franz Boas, studies Inuit culture, Cumberland Sound, Baffin Island.
1884 Reverend Peck established a mission at Fort Chimo, Kuujuak, to help Reverend Sam Stewart who established the second mission in Inuit territory.
1885? Jimmie Ekomiak Fleming (c.1885-1950s) was born? He died when he was 65? He became a Christian. He was not tall. Jimmie Ekoomiak loved children. He played with Sarah like a child would play. Jimmie Ekomiak Fleming was a fiddler and he taught his sons Charlie and Thomas. Thomas bought the fiddle from Eaton’s catalogue for $15. His father, a traveller, Jimmy Fleming (b. 1830s?1860s?) was Scottish or English more likely Scottish perhaps with prominent eyebrows like Jimmie Ekomiak Fleming.
1887-1905 Frederick Haultain, a Conservative, was premier of the Northwest Territories. Sir Wilfred Laurier was Prime Minister. Haultain was born in England and came to Canada when he was three. He discouraged party politics and believed in consensus (Parker 1996:25).
1888 The first Legislative Aseembly was held with 22 elected members. Arguments started over the control of the public purse. The Federal Government held the Advisory Council responsible for governmental expenditures without giving them full control over taxation and financial transfers. (Parker 1996:24),
1890s, early 1900s. The catechist Reverend Fleming traveled thousands of miles with Joseph Pudloo visiting Inuit camps, teaching syllabics along with their missionary work for the Anglican Church Missionary Society.
1893 Franz Boas’ went to Baffin Island and Northern British Columbia to gather ethnographic material for the 1893 Smithsonian’s World’s Columbian Exposition. There was an ethnographic exhibit including “Esquimaux snapping whips and in their kayaks…”
1896? Reverend Edmund Peck introduced syllabics as a written form of Inuktitut. His system was adapted from Reverend Evan’s syllabic system adopted by the Cree.
1898 Yukon was created as separate territory. Gold was discovered. (Parker 1996:25).

Click here for the 2nd part of the timeline.