Native Americans And Inuit From The American Arctic

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Introduction and Early Contact European explorers typically viewed Native Americans and Inuit (formerly called “Eskimo”) peoples as uncivilized savages who could be ignored, treated as curiosities, or manipulated to meet the goals of businessmen, clerics, scientists, or politicians. Civil interaction with native peoples was pursued only when it was critical to the success of European ventures such as procuring gold, silver, fur, and land. These exploitative or antagonistic relationships with native groups arose from ethnocentric attitudes which to some degree still persist in both public and private arenas. But today, we understand the importance of looking at primary sources, both written and archaeological, for a richer and more complete narrative about what such earlier encounters meant to the participants. The first documented contact between New World and Old World people took place when the Norse colonized the American Arctic in A.D. 985. The demanding Arctic environment required that European explorers and indigenous Inuit people share a mutual interest in maintaining friendly relationships for reasons of economy and survival. Subsequent European-Inuit contacts across the American Arctic played out along similar lines, with Inuit people quickly adopting new materials and technologies (especially firearms), but maintaining their language and their Arctic-adapted culture to this day. The British Subsequent European colonization pursued rather different settlement

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