Paradise Gained, Lost, and Regained: Pulse Migration and the Inuit Archaeology of the Quebec Lower North Shore

William W. Fitzhugh


The long-contested question of the Inuit occupation of the Quebec Lower North Shore has been illuminated by excavations at five 17th–18th-century sod-house villages. Few organic artifacts survive, and the preserved material culture is almost entirely of European artifacts or materials refashioned into Inuit forms. Faunal assemblages indicate winter occupations. Hare Harbor represents a departure from other settlements in having been an Inuit-Basque/French “joint venture.” Lower North Shore Inuit appear to have had a more positive relationship with Europeans than Labrador Inuit, but their presence was vigorously contested by Innu whose coastal lands they appropriated. Questions about year-round occupancy remain because few summer sites have been found. Was the Lower North Shore Inuit occupation a wave migration followed by long-term settlement and withdrawal a century later, or a series of episodic migrations followed by periodic or even seasonal withdrawal? Historical records document intermittent Innu hostilities ending with Inuit withdrawal by AD 1750. In the mid-19th century, Inuit returned, and today their genetic and cultural heritage is an important feature of Lower North Shore life.

  • This article was prepared by a U.S. government employee as part of the employee’s official duties and is in the public domain in the United States.

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