INUIT OF RIGOLET PT. 1
Rudy, Jen and Jacob embark on an ocean-going ferry to join Lisa Rankin on the Atlantic coast of Labrador at the Double Mer archaeological site near the tiny hamlet of Rigolet, the most southern Inuit occupation in the world. As the team helps to excavate an 18th century sod house—their first post-contact site—they learn the ways in which the local culture blended traditional Inuit technology with European trade commodities.
Rigolet’s Extreme Boardwalk
Rigolet’s Inuit Craft Shop
Sod Houses of the Southern Inuit
The houses of the Southern Inuit in Rigolet are similar in many ways to those we saw in Tuktoyaktuk in Episode 5. They were built by digging into the ground for insulation with wooden frames forming a roof, which was then covered by caribou skins. Sod was placed on top to keep everything in place and add more insulation. A low tunnel entrance trapped warmer air inside the higher, central communal area, and raised benches surrounded this for work and sleep.
“At this site you can see the amalgamation of a very old style of life and the modern world.”
– Jacob Pratt
Lisa Rankin’s team takes great care to connect with the community that hosts their research, and so it is fitting that they locate their “out-of-the-field” work within the Rigolet NetLoft. Traditionally, the fishing crews would store their nets in this communal building, and so it was a focus of sharing. Today, the NetLoft is an open museum of the archaeology in progress, where finds are recorded, processed and at the same time available to visitors to learn about.
Trade with Europeans
Amid the many domestic artifacts recovered from the Double Mer sod houses, we also find metal insignia from the headgear of European soldiers. Called a “Shako Plate”, these decorative metal reliefs are a rich and interesting piece of evidence that provides very specific information but also raises questions. Why would they appear in an Inuit house and how were they being reused after trade with local military personnel?