Re-Presenting the Past: A New Archaeological Outreach Strategy for the Canadian Territory of Nunavut

Brendan Griebel 1 , Torsten Diesel 2  and Tim Rast 3
  • 1 Kitikmeot Heritage Society, Cambridge Bay, X0B 0C0, Nunavut, Canada
  • 2 Inuit Heritage Trust, Iqaluit, X0A 0H0, Nunavut, Canada
  • 3 Elfshot, St Johns, A1B 4J9, Newfoundland, Canada

Abstract

In 2013, an Arctic-based organization known as the Inuit Heritage Trust spearheaded a new campaign to increase archaeological awareness in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. While Nunavut remains an Inuit-centered territory—founded on the knowledge and values that have long sustained its predominantly Inuit population—the rules and regulations surrounding archaeological resources are largely grounded in more scientific, and distinctly non-Inuit, valuations of the past. For multiple reasons, Inuit and non-Inuit traditions for understanding and preserving heritage resources have proved difficult to reconcile, despite numerous attempts at community outreach programs and the regular hosting of archaeological fieldschools. For many Inuit, the methodological and impersonal approach to history endorsed by incoming archaeologists remains a foreign concept. This paper will present a series of community resources developed as part of the Inuit Heritage Trust’s new archaeological awareness campaign, produced in partnership with archaeologists Brendan Griebel and Tim Rast. These resources seek to address the question of how to educate about Nunavut’s past through a framework that aligns with the interests and realities of both professional archaeologists and Inuit populations. To date, this campaign has produced two unique resources: the first, a guidebook series that explores archaeology’s relevance to community members, students and heritage workers in Nunavut, and the second, a portable excavation and experimental archaeology kit. While the campaign does not intend to change the way that either Inuit or archaeologists value the past, it does attempt to create a mutual awareness of differing worldview so that both groups might better navigate the complex landscape of regulation and interaction ascribed to Nunavut’s heritage resources.

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