M12164 | Needlecase

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Creative Commons License
Anonyme - Anonymous
Western Arctic
Inuit: Inuvialuit
About 1857, 19th century
Ivory, glass beads, sealskin, sinew
24.5 x 6 cm
Gift of the Natural History Society of Montreal
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Needlecase (13)
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Keys to History

The Hudson's Bay Company and Arctic Fox

As the market for whale products declined, the fur trade pushed north. The Hudson's Bay Company, facing increased competition by rival independent traders in the south, intensified its efforts to promote white fox trapping among the Inuit. Company employees were sent on expeditions in the hopes of establishing trade relations with Inuit groups. Eventually, the company built trading posts in the Arctic, prompting the migration of Inuit groups from their traditional hunting territories. For example, the Netsilingmiut, who are now established on Igluligaarjuk (Chesterfield Inlet), Nunavut, moved there in the 1920s from their traditional hunting ground some 800 kilometres to the north. Part of the reason for their migration was having more opportunities to trade at the Hudson's Bay Company post, which was established in Igluligaarjuk (Chesterfield Inlet) in 1912.

  • What

    The Inuit have been able to survive in the Arctic in part because of the skill of Inuit seamstresses and the clothing they produce. Non-Aboriginal men and women working in the Arctic quickly adopted this type of clothing, commissioning garments from Inuit women. Traditional sewing equipment consisted of an ulu, needle and awl, thimble and thimble-guard, and a needlecase. Sewing kits also contained sinew and pieces of fur for clothing repairs.

  • Where

    This needlecase and thimbleguard were collected in the Anderson River region, Northwest Territories.

  • When

    This needlecase was collected around 1857.

  • Who

    This artifact is possibly from the now extinct Karngmalit people (Inuit of the Mackenzie River District). It was collected by Roderick R. MacFarlane (1833-1920), Arctic explorer and chief factor in the Mackenzie River district for the Hudson's Bay Company. He was sent in June 1857 to explore the Anderson River Valley and investigate the possibilities of trade with its Inuit inhabitants.