Modern Food Sharing Networks and Community Integration in the Central Canadian Arctic

  • Peter Collings
  • George Wenzel
  • Richard G. Condon
Keywords: subsistence, Copper Inuit, food sharing, distributional mechanisms


From June 1992 to July 1993, research on wildlife harvesting and subsistence was conducted among a sample of householders in the Inuit community of Holman. In an earlier paper, the authors examined the involvement of younger Inuit in subsistence hunting, noting that despite the sweeping political, social, and economic changes that have been experienced in Holman and across the Canadian North, hunting remained an important sociocultural and economic activity for some members of the sample group. This paper focuses specifically on the informal socioeconomic mechanisms employed by Holman Inuit for the distribution of wild resources and compare the present range of such activity to that observed by Stefansson, Jenness, Rasmussen, and Damas in their work on Copper Inuit food sharing. These data indicate 1) that the sharing form most frequently cited ethnographically, obligatory seal-sharing partnerships, is more irregular than formerly; and 2) that voluntary, nonpartnership-based sharing remains an important element in the contemporary economic system.