Stone Tool Traditions in the Contact Era

By Charles R. Cobb | Go to book overview

10
Flint and Foxes
Chert Scrapers and the Fur Industry in Late-Nineteenth-
and Early-Twentieth-Century North Alaska

Mark S. Cassell

In the late winter and early spring of 1892, about 80 Iñupiat Eskimos were preparing for the coming whale hunt at Point Belcher, Alaska, about 100 miles southwest of Point Barrow on the coast of the Chukchi Sea. It was an age-old practice; villagers in coastal north Alaska had spent this season getting ready for spring subsistence whaling for almost a thousand years under the leadership of umialiit (Eskimo “whaling captains”; see McLean 1980). The Eskimos at Point Belcher in 1892, however, were preparing for whaling under historical circumstances differing considerably from those of even a decade before. Like many people in north Alaska in 1892, they were not readying for subsistence whaling. They were preparing for the extraction of baleen, the fibrous material draping down from the upper jaws of the bowhead whale. Baleen was an industrial raw material, used in making buggy whips and corset stays (Stevenson 1907) and profitable on the open market in American manufacturing centers. Neither were they under Iñupiat umialiit leadership. These Eskimos were skilled laborers in the western Arctic commercial whaling industry. They were employees of American commercial whaler/trader John Kelly and worked at the shore whaling station Kelly established at Point Belcher in the fall of 1891 (Figure 10.1). And Kelly’s station was not an Eskimo village. It was a little company town, a factory town, with storage facilities and workers’ housing, a main office, and laborers and bosses, both native-born and immigrant. With tremendous support from the Iñupiat of the nearby village of Wainwright and from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we excavated parts of Kelly’s station only about 100 years after its brief 10-month occupation (Cassell 2000b).

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Stone Tool Traditions in the Contact Era
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Tables ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Lithic Technology and the Spanish Entrada at the King Site in Northwest Georgia 13
  • 3 - Wichita Tools on First Contact with the French 29
  • 4 - Chickasaw Lithic Technology- a Reassessment 51
  • 5 - Tools of Contact 59
  • 6 - Lithic Artifacts in Seventeenth-Century Native New England 78
  • 7 - Stone Adze Economies in Post-Contact Hawai'i 94
  • 8 - In All the Solemnity of Profound Smoking 109
  • 9 - Using a Rock in a Hard Place 127
  • 10 - Flint and Foxes 151
  • 11 - Discussion 165
  • References Cited 173
  • Contributors 205
  • Index 209
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