- Mar 2017
Now they recognize they are not essential
In the late 1800s and early 1900s northern explorers depended on the indigenous people. The natives knew the land, the climate, and the wildlife. Because of their knowledge, the indigenous northerners served as local guides in this harsh and uninviting place. The native people also served as interpreters for researchers and were a lifeline for those that had little-to-no knowledge of how to survive in that kind of environment. However, they were not always seen as important figures. As southern technologies became more and more prominent in the far north, native peoples were pushed aside. “The airplane and helicopter strained relations among researchers and northerners. These technologies relieved field-workers from establishing extensive and regular relationships with locals as guides, interpreters, and informants. Permafrost scientists in particular could produce knowledge about the Arctic environment without Inuit expertise and apply that research in governmental construction projects without consulting locals” (108). The Inuits began to view the government scientists as pests, “they arrived in summer ‘in lusty swarm’ and were just as annoying” (108). Many researchers come during the warm months and gather information that allows them to cut ties to the indigenous people. The use of modern technology in the north forces Inuit to work menial jobs and completely change their way of life in order to survive in the modernizing landscape. While the industrial system has brought many valuable things to them, the Inuit are no longer needed or heard. If it is in the best interest of the oil industry, a pipeline would be built right over their homeland, even if they are still on it.
Annotation drawn form Stuhl, Andrew. Unfreezing the Arctic: Science, Colonialism, and the Transformation of Inuit Lands. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016.