The Inuvialuit of the Western Arctic - From Ancient Times to 1902

... To 1902
- Isolation of the Inuvialuit

It was during the period of Hudson's Bay Company operations at Fort Anderson that the Inuvialuit were first introduced to Christianity, although it is doubtful if they recognized this fact. The Roman Catholic missionary Emile Petitot made several brief if determined attempts to proselytize in the 1860s and '70s, to no apparent effect. An Anglican missionary, William Bompas, also visited the Inuvialuit (in 1870?), but even more briefly, "as a spy searching the land."

Despite an extensive economic involvement with the Hudson's Bay Company, several major disease epidemics, and considerable other cultural change, the Inuvialuit were still in many respects very much aloof from the outside world as late as the 1880s. In particular they had been only very rarely visited on their home ground by outsiders. Petitot and Bompas are the ones we know of who had even spent the night in an Inuvialuit house, and they were certainly infrequent guests.

In their dealings with the Hudson's Bay Company, it was the Inuvialuit who did the travelling, since Peel's River Post and even Fort Anderson were located outside of traditional Inuvialuit territory. The English Earl of Lonsdale, a fraudulent explorer in most respects, was probably the first European to set foot in Kittigazuit, as late as 1888. But this relative isolation (at least on their own home ground) was not to last.

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