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At the beginning of the 20th century, when the Inuinnait of Victoria Island and the Coronation Gulf first came into sustained contact with Europeans, there was no communication or trade occurring with Inuit towards the Mackenzie Delta. However Anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson recognized that there had recently been an active trade network that connected Inuinnait, specifically the Kangirjuarmiut to their western neighbours and gave them access to goods, especially Russian iron goods, which were traded from Siberian and Alaskan Inupiat and east to Mackenzie Inuit. The ability of Inuinnait to engage in this trade, and to purchase Russian iron goods, was based on their production of soapstone pots and lamps that were manufactured from raw soapstone quarried from the Tree River area. In the mid-1800s most pots and lamps found in households from Kotzebue Sound to Cape Bathurst were made in the Coronation Gulf. The soapstone trade was active from the 1840s to the 1860s. 



Copper Eskimo soapstone pot collected by

Inuinnait soapstone pot collected by Vilhjalmur Stefansson in 1912. (American Museum of Natural History [60/6929])

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