By Pat Sandiford Grygier
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Extra info for A Long Way from Home: The Tuberculosis Epidemic among the Inuit
6 2O A Long Way from Home Frobisher was followed by other explorers, who in turn were followed by whalers, fur traders, missionaries, and, in this century, by the RCMP, the mining companies, the military, and the federal government administrators. Each group of incomers brought new elements to the life of the Inuit, often affecting them adversely through depletion or disturbance of the animal resources on which they depended, sometimes offering greater ease or security of living through new technology such as guns or motors, and almost invariably introducing diseases that caused havoc in the communities.
Hunting, whether of caribou or seals, was an arduous and uncertain business. Seal meat used to be the staple diet of the Arctic Coast Inuit, and white fox and caribou the most important land animals, the fox for the sale value of its fur, the caribou for clothing as well as meat. The Eastern Arctic Inuit were more dependent on sea animals - the whale, the walrus, and the seal - but they also hunted caribou in the summer. There were devastating periods from time to time when the caribou failed to come or when the white fox, the staple "cash crop," was scarce because its main food, the lemmings, had declined; or when falling fur prices left the Inuit with insufficient credit to cover their needs at the Hudson's Bay Company store.
Of course, disruptions and disapproved behaviour occurred, as in all human societies, but on the whole their practical life and their spiritual, cosmological beliefs were remarkably well dove-tailed. The literature and government reports11 are full of examples of the difficulties of communication and travel in the late 19405 and the 19505, despite the radio stations, Hudson's Bay Company posts, RCMP posts, and missions that were by then established at many of the spring and summer meeting places that are now the hamlets.