An Extraordinary Woman, An Extraordinary Life: Excavating Mikak's House to Explore the Status of Women and the Effects of Colonialism in 18th Century Labrador
This research has three primary objectives: 1) to examine the effects of colonialism on 18th century Inuit socio-economic relationships through the excavation of a dwelling on Black Island, Labrador; 2) to explore gender relations, in particular how the lives of Inuit women were affected by increased European interaction and the shift from a predominately subsistence-based to a mixed hunting/trading economy by comparing data from Black Island to similar data from other contact period collections; 3) to develop a collaborative research agenda with the Inuit of Nunatsiavut. According to a 1776 census, the Inuit woman Mikak lived in this dwelling on Black Island. Her life story is significant in the history of Labrador as she was very influential in the granting of British land to the Moravian missionaries, who established their first mission in Nain in 1771, and were heavily involved in the coastal baleen trade network. Excavating Mikak's dwelling will allow me to explore these research objectives and provide material to compare to other contact period dwellings; in so doing, I can determine if Mikak's unique status can be distinguished archaeologically and further contribute to the life history of this remarkable woman. Historic documents provide little information on the lives of Inuit women and reconstructing Mikak's life will help redress this. The unique historical and archaeological value of her home on Black Island make it the ideal location to evaluate the colonial effects on Inuit socio-economic and gender relationships during the 18th century. Finally, based on my Masters research in Nain, I found that the community is most interested in the more recent past, particularly the contact and historic periods, and has a stronger interest in the human aspects of archaeology, rather than in the artifacts themselves. The choice of this site, as it relates to Mikak, aligns with those interests. It was determined in collaboration with members of the Nain community and Nunatsiavut Government thus fulfilling a call for research requested by the Labrador Inuit.
01 Jan 2010
31 Dec 2011
ISER Research Grant, Northern Scientific Training Program (NSTP), Labrador Institute, Provincial Archaeology Office
Strategic Research Theme
Arctic and Northern Regions
Creative Arts, Culture and Heritage