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Ilatsiak, Kiluhiqtuq Shaman (Jenness:CMC
Copper Eskimo soapstone pot collected by
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Tree River Inuit descending to the sea at the approach of winter, 1915. 

(J.J. O’Neil/CMH/38571)

The Inuinnait participated in Inuit networks of contact and trade for centuries before the arrival of European fur traders. News, ideas, raw materials, items of Inuit manufacture, and later, European trade goods spread through these networks. Adjacent regional groups traded raw materials such as animal skins, driftwood, flint, soapstone, copper, etc., that were available in their home territory. These materials would be traded unaltered, or sometimes as completed items such as clothing, bows, pots or snow knives. Adjacent regional groups would also act as intermediaries and trade the raw materials or manufactured goods of more distant Inuit groups. 

Raw materials that were available in a limited region, or manufactured items that were skillfully made by a certain regional group could be traded over large distances. These items could move by being traded from group to group along the network, or could be secured by individuals making long distance journeys by dogteam.

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