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Northern Native Cultures

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The Northern World, AD 900-1400
edited by Herbert Maschner, Owen Mason and Robert McGhee
432 pages
University of Utah Press, 2009.

In this volume of essays by some of the world’s leading Arctic archeologists, Canadian Museum of Civilization curator emeritus Robert McGhee advances his theory that a 4,000-kilometre beeline quest for iron from Greenland’s famous Cape York meteorite deposit is the likeliest explanation for the sudden spread of the Thule culture across the Canadian Arctic around 1250 AD.

Inuit Shamanism and Christianity: Transitions and Transformations in the Twentieth Century
by Frederic B. Laugrand and Jarich G. Oosten
McGill-Queen's University Press, 2009.

While the transition to Christianity in the Canadian Arctic occurred between the end of the eighteenth century and the 1950s, the various and complex transformations that happened during this time have not been fully understood. Using both archival material and oral testimony collected during workshops in Nunavut between 1996 and 2008, Laugrand and Oosten provide a nuanced look at Inuit religion, offering a strong counter narrative to the idea that traditional Inuit culture declined post-contact.

Franz Boas among the Inuit of Baffin Island, 1883-1884: Journals and Letters
Ludger Müller-Wille (Editor), William Barr (Translator)
312 pages
University of Toronto Press, 1998.

In the summer of 1883, Franz Boas, widely regarded as one of the fathers of Inuit anthropology, sailed from Germany to Baffin Island to spend a year among the Inuit of Cumberland Sound. This was his introduction to the Arctic and to anthropological fieldwork. This book presents his letters and journal entries from that year, providing not only an insightful background to his numerous scientific articles about Inuit culture, but a comprehensive and engaging narrative as well. Illustrated with some of Boas' own photos and with maps of the area.

Inuit Entertainers in the United States: From the Chicago World's Fair through the Birth of Hollywood
by Jim Zwick
Infinity Publishing, 2006.

This profusely illustrated history of Inuit involvement in American mass entertainment from 1892 to 1922 documents performances at 11 world’s fairs and expositions, at dime museums, with Barnum & Bailey’s Circus, at Coney Island, and in the film industry throughout the first decade of the Hollywood studios. At the center of the story are two extraordinary women. Esther Eneutseak led a group of Labrador Inuit from the Paris World’s Fair to Hollywood. Her daughter Columbia, a World’s Fair baby born at Chicago in 1893, wrote and starred in the first Hollywood film with a credited Inuit cast.

The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic
by Melanie Mcgrath
Knopf, 2007.

In 1953 a few Inuit families were moved from their homes on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay to Ellesmere Island, 1,500 miles further north. Though bureaucrats said it was for their own good, to give them a better life after fox pelt prices plummeted, the move was driven by political need and cultural arrogance. By putting permanent residents people on the formerly uninhabited island, Canada could claim it as its territory at a time when Greenland and the United States also were talking about claiming it. As the book goes on to explain, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples eventually damned the move, and it was significant in the formation of the new territory of Nunavut.

Very Last First Time
by Jan Andrews
Publisher: Groundwood Books, 2003.

For ages 4-8. Eva, a young Inuit girl, goes to walk under the ice to gather mussels alone for the first time. She has gone many times with her mother but never all alone. While she is under the ice, she becomes intrigued with shapes, shadows and life under the sea and forgets that the tide is coming in. Eva experiences a multitude of feelings when she realizes she might be trapped. She finally finds the hole that leads to the surface again. See these Teachers' Notes for effective use in the classroom.

Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family
by Jean L. Briggs
Harvard University Press, 2006.

Anthropologist Jean Briggs spent 17 months living on a remote Arctic shore as the "adopted daughter" of an Eskimo family. Through vignettes of daily life she unfolds a warm and perceptive tale of the behavioral patterns of the Utku, their way of training children, and their handling of deviations from desired behavior.

Athapaskan Migrations: The Archaeology of Eagle Lake, British Columbia
by R. G. Matson and Martin P.R. Magne
University of Arizona Press, 2007.

The authors present a sophisticated model of Northern Athapaskan migrations based on extensive archaeological, ethnographic, and dendrochronological research. A synthesis of 25 years of work, Athapaskan Migrations includes detailed accounts of field research in which the authors emphasize ethnic group identification, settlement patterns, lithic analysis, dendrochronology, and radiocarbon dating. Their theoretical approach will provide a blueprint for others wishing to establish the ethnic identity of archaeological materials.

Negotiating Wilderness in a Cultural Landscape: Predators & Saami Reindeer Herding in the Laponian World Heritage Area
by Asa Nilsson Dahlstrom
ACTA Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2003.

The UNESCO appointment of the Laponian World Heritage Area in 1996 meant that Sweden accepted the assignment of protecting both the cultural and natural values of this area for all mankind and all generations to come. The appointment determined that the local Saami reindeer herding culture in Laponia area do not easily combine, negotiations between the concerned parties must be held over important matters. This thesis deals with the ways in which "nature" and the "environment" are negotiated within the environmental discourses that concern Laponia.

The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas - 2 Volumes
Editors: by Bruce G. Trigger and Wilcomb E. Washburn
Cambridge University Press, 1996.