Late-18th- and Early-19th-Century Inuit and Europeans in Southern Labrador
The Inuit presence, except at Red Bay, is not archaeologically visible until the end of the 18th century, despite the written accounts that document their presence in the Strait of Belle Isle from as early as the 16th century. It appears that they were attracted by the increased European fishing activities in the area. The European presence consisted of fishermen (planter fishermen) posted at the best fishing locations in the Strait of Belle Isle. They adopted a housing style borrowed from the Labrador Inuit, and that trait is notable for the period between the last decade of the 18th century into the middle of the 19th century. The similarities observed between the two ethnic groups demonstrate how complex it is to differentiate them, as a result of cross-acculturation. The Inuit living in close proximity to European stations replaced their traditional material culture with European-made goods in a very short time period, while the European settlers were building sod houses identical to what we know of the 19th-century Labrador Inuit.
Key words: Strait of Belle Isle, Labrador Inuit, Europeans, acculturation, historical archaeology, sod houses, 18th-19th century