JANUARY 15th (Calgary Public Library – Central Location, Patricia A. Whelan Room) @ 7:30 pm:
Genevieve LeMoine, The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum-Bowdoin College
On the Edge of the North Water: Cultural Contact at the Gateway to Greenland
Foulke Fjord, in northwestern Greenland lies at the northern end of the North Water polynya, an area of open water that forms annually in the sea ice at the northern end of Baffin Bay that supports a rich and diverse community of marine life, from whales to sea birds. This ecological hotspot has attracted human inhabitants for the last 4500 years. In this presentation I will present the results of three seasons of research at one site in this region, Iita (Etah), on the north shore of the fjord. Historically Iita was an important nexus of cultural contact between Inughuit and Euro-American explorers, as well as Inuit migrants from Baffin Island led by the shaman Qitdlarsuaq. A remarkable sequence of discreet stratigraphic levels also reveal earlier occupations, including both late Dorset paleo-Inuit and pioneering Thule. In addition to shedding light on key episodes of cultural contact in this region, Iita is also a bellwether of sorts for archaeological sites in the Arctic as even in this northerly location diminished sea ice has accelerated erosion.