Jacinda Sinclair Abstract

Jacinda Sinclair
Revisiting Avertok: A Reassessment of an Inuit Whaling Settlement
Because of their importance to Inuit whaling and trade in the late 17th and 18th centuries, the five sites recorded in Junius Bird’s 1934 survey of the Hopedale area are both culturally important to the local Inuit community and to the history of the creation of archaeological narratives about the Labrador Inuit. Though this project is regarded as a foundational part of northern research, through the lens of today’s standards, many problems are visible in both Bird’s theory and methodology. Most significantly, Bird excavated at an accelerated pace and is believed to have discarded European-derived artifacts which did not fit an “authentic Inuit” narrative, resulting in a failure to capture the complexity of the region’s Inuit/European interactions. The Hopedale and Nunatsiavut governments have requested a reassessment of Bird’s excavations in order to more accurately determine the region’s significance within the Inuit cultural landscape, prompting Memorial University to revisit the Avertok and Karmakulluk sites to conduct additional excavations in summer 2017. Incorporating both reassessments of Bird’s sites and of his findings, the project led to the excavation of a sod-house at the Karmakulluk site along with the re-excavation of Bird’s backfill in order to retrieve his discarded artifacts. Bird’s 1934 collection will also be re-studied for comparison with the 2017 collection and additional comparisons with other coastal Labrador Inuit sites will then be made in order to further ascertain the significance of the Hopedale region.

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