Dorset culture, 500 BC-1500 AD, is known archaeologically from most coastal regions of arctic Canada. The Dorset people were descended from Palaeoeskimos of the PRE-DORSET CULTURE
. Compared to their ancestors, the Dorset people had a more successful economy and lived in more permanent houses built of snow and turf and heated with soapstone oil lamps. They may also have used dogsleds and KAYAKS
. They lived primarily by hunting sea mammals and were capable of taking animals as large as walrus and narwhal. About 500 BC they moved down the Labrador coast and occupied the island of Newfoundland for about 1000 years. About 1000 AD they were displaced from most arctic regions by an invasion of THULE
Inuit from Alaska, but they continued to live in northern Québec and Labrador until approximately 1500 AD.
See also PREHISTORY.
Dorset Culture Tools
Dorset culture tools found at Port au Choix, Newfoundland and Labrador (courtesy Parks Canada).
This life-sized wooden mask, painted with red ochre, was found on Bylot Island. It was probably used in shamanistic rites (courtesy CMC).
Soapstone polar bear found on Shuldham Island, Saglek Bay (courtesy Newfoundland Museum).
Robert McGhee, Canadian Arctic Prehistory (1978).
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.
An illustrated website about archaeological research and prehistoric culture in the Canadian Arctic. From the University of Waterloo.