The Inuit of Baffin Island became known to the outside world as early as 1576, when Martin FROBISHER traded with the Inuit and kidnapped one of them in the bay which now bears his name; more conflict ensued on his 1577 expedition. Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries Inuit along the south coast had occasional trade contacts with European exploration and supply vessels that stopped briefly on their way through to Hudson Bay. Farther north, the Inuit of Davis Strait did not encounter outsiders in any numbers until after 1820, when Scottish and American whalers started making annual visits to Baffin Island through the heavy drift ice of western Baffin Bay.
Inuit material culture was greatly modified by the increased flow of trade goods, including firearms, and by the large supply of wood provided by frequent shipwrecks. Contact with Europeans increased during the late 19th century when whalers started to establish permanent shore stations. Although the Inuit may have welcomed regular trade and occasional employment, it is thought that their population declined rapidly because of dietary changes and exposure to European diseases.
After the decline of commercial whaling in the early 20th century, the Inuit of Baffin Island turned increasingly to fox trapping in order to satisfy their dependence on European manufacturers. Since the 1950s the Inuit have become much more sedentary, moving into modern communities such as IQALUIT (Frobisher Bay), the transportation hub and largest settlement on the island. One of the best-known communities on Baffin Island is CAPE DORSET, now recognized around the world for the outstanding soapstone carvings, prints and drawings of its Inuit artists.
See also NATIVE PEOPLE: ARCTIC.
Author J. GARTH TAYLOR
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge
The website for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge, which features Canada's largest essay writing competition for Aboriginal youth (ages 14-29) and a companion program for those who prefer to work through painting, drawing and photography. See their guidelines, teacher resources, profiles of winners, and more. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Government of Nunavut
Your source for information about Government of Nunavut programs, regional tourism and local business opportunities. Also check out the links to Inuktitut language resources.
The Spatial and Historical Evolution of Iqaluit
Explore the history and development of Iqaluit in this interesting multimedia website from Natural Resources Canada. Check out the many cartographic visualization features and the Historical Research section, which includes an interactive tutorial about the history of the Iqaluit region. Requires Adobe Shockwave Player.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) is the national Inuit organization in Canada. Represents four Inuit regions – Nunatsiavut (Labrador), Nunavik (northern Quebec), Nunavut, and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories. Their extensive website covers regional political, economic, cultural, and environmental issues. Also offers online articles from the magazine "Inuktitut" in Inuktitut, English, and French.
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