This paper examines Neo-Inuit (ca. AD 1250 to present) responses to the decreased temperatures of the Little Ice Age (LIA) climate change episode (ca. AD 1300–1900) in the Foxe Basin region of central Nunavut, Arctic Canada. Cooler temperatures (and increased sea ice) would be expected to have reduced both bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) and Atlantic walrus (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) habitats, forcing Neo-Inuit to refocus their hunting activities on landfast-ice-dwelling small seals (e.g., Pusa hispida) during winter months. However, an analysis of faunal remains from Foxe Basin's largest-known Neo-Inuit (Thule, historic and modern Inuit) archaeological site, Pingiqqalik (NgHd-1), reveals a long-term subsistence economy based largely on multi-seasonal walrus hunting. Two interrelated factors may explain these results: (1) a system of recurring polynyas provided a degree of ecological stability for local walrus populations, and (2) the development of a distinctive walrus caching regime—a form of which continues among the region's contemporary Inuit—allowed residents to adeptly exploit an ecological niche, thereby ensuring food security. Together, these factors likely insulated northern Foxe Basin Neo-Inuit from the worst effects of the LIA.
|Number of pages||13|
|Early online date||14-Feb-2018|
|Publication status||Published - 30-May-2020|