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Trading and Raiding: Understanding Early French/Inuit Relationships in in Southern Labrador

Lisa Rankin

Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries the social and economic life of the Labrador Inuit was increasingly entwined with French fishermen and settlers. While crew on French fishing ships traveled annually to southern Labrador to make use of good harbours, French settlers from Quebec began to develop large concessions of land for the purposes of sealing, furring and trading. As a result of these activities, French-Inuit interactions became increasingly commonplace. The Inuit had settled in southern Labrador by the sixteenth century, likely as a deliberate strategy to obtain European materials, which they re-purposed to suit their own cultural needs. This presentation elaborates on recent archaeological findings that illuminate the nature and extent of these complex interactions.