Clyde Inuit Settlement and Community: From before Boas to Centralization

George Wenzel


Presently, the terms “settlement” and “community” are used virtually interchangeably as identifying referents for contemporary Inuit residential places, especially those that are the result of past Euro-Canadian resettlement policy. This paper revisits Chang’s (1961) conceptualization of these terms in which “settlement” expresses spatial, geographic and, to a degree, temporal provenience, while “community” is conceived of as having strict social meaning with regard to place. Chang’s conception of each term is tested through examination of ethnohistoric information about Inuit occupation and use of the Clyde region of eastern Baffin Island before the formation of modern Clyde River. This examination begins with historical and informant information about the nineteenth century regional presence of Inuit and then is followed by detailed Inuit memories of people and places during Clyde’s Contact-Traditional Period (ca. 1923–1970). It concludes that Chang’s discriminating use of “settlement” and “community” are relevant to the history of Inuit occupation in this area during this later time, but that his formulations about Inuit settlement and community within his larger circumpolar typologies are weak and with regard to community inaccurate.

  • George W. Wenzel, Department of Geography, McGill University, 805 Sherbrooke St. W., Montréal, Canada H3A 2K6

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