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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Dual allegiance" in the Mackenzie Delta, N.W.T. - aspects of the evolution and contemporary spatial structure of a northern community Wolforth, John

Abstract

In the first part of the thesis, historical analysis shows that agents of cultural contact - the trading company and mission churches - focussed the activities of native Eskimo and Indian peoples upon the Mackenzie Delta. Centrifugal forces exerted by whaling in the Beaufort Sea and the Klondike Gold Rush were short-lived and resulted in the more rapid acculturation of native peoples involved in them who eventually drifted back towards the Mackenzie Delta. The intensification of trapping after 1920 and the growth of a pattern of settlements confirmed the importance of the Mackenzie Delta in the ecological regimes of Eskimos, Indians and the white trappers who migrated there at this time, and favoured the emergence of a Delta Community. In the second part of the thesis, an objective hierarchical grouping procedure is used to identify characteristic groups of trappers in terms of the species they trap. Groups specializing in more distant species associated with each settlement virtually disappeared between 1931 and 1951 and the spring muskrat harvest in the Mackenzie Delta became the dominant activity of most trappers. In 1950, trapping camps were evenly distributed throughout the Mackenzie Delta and the take of muskrat generally greater in the northeast. After the building of the new planned settlement of Inuvik the numbers of trapping camps diminished and the regional trend of the muskrat harvest shifted as the takes in the vincinity [sic] of the new town decreased. For the mid-sixties, a grouping procedure used to dichotomize "serious" and "part-time" trappers shows that a large proportion of the latter maintained trapping camps. Analysis of employment in Inuvik also shows a divided commitment to land and town. High income and high status jobs were occupied predominantly by white transient workers since they required skills and levels of educational achievement possessed by few native people. Though native people of Metis origin showed some success in employment, most Eskimos and Indians occupied more menial jobs. A comparison of employment in government and non-government sectors indicates that native involvement in the latter was growing, many native people in both sectors shifted jobs frequently, or between jobs and land-based activities. The town economy like the land economy showed signs of adaptation to the dual allegiance felt by native people to land and town.

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