Grand River Chapter - Salvaging on the Coast of Erebus Bay, King William Island: An Analysis of Inuit Interaction with Material from the Franklin Expedition

  • March 12, 2019
  • 7:30 PM
  • PAS 1241 University of Waterloo

Speaker: Dana Thacher, PhD Student, Dept. of Anthropology, McMaster University

Topic: Salvaging on the Coast of Erebus Bay, King William Island: An Analysis of Inuit Interaction with Material from the Franklin Expedition


Over the course of the 19th century, many European explorers sailed in search of a Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic. These journeys brought them into territory occupied by Inuit, who both traded with the explorers for various goods and interacted with the material that they left behind. I examined the remains of two ship’s boats from three sites on King William Island (NgLj-2, NgLj-3, and NgLj-8) that were abandoned by members of the Franklin expedition and subsequently found and altered by an Inuit sub-group called the Netsilik. This research demonstrates that Inuit utilized these boats in a manner that reflects (1) their environment, (2) what the material afforded, (3) their past experiences with Europeans and European material, and (4) their intended uses of the material. These alterations ascribed new meaning to the material and redefines the remains of the boats in Erebus Bay as simultaneously Netsilik and European material.
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