Ikey Angotisiak Bolt (1894-1981)


  • John R. Sperry




Acculturation, Biographies, Bolt, Ikey Angotisiak, 1894-1981, Canadian Arctic Expeditions (1913-1918), Copper Eskimos, Expeditions, Explorers, History, Social change, Translators, Coronation Gulf, Nunavut, Kugluktuk region, Victoria Island, N.W.T./Nunavut


The arrival of the Canadian Arctic Expedition (1913-1918) was of profound influence in exposing the Copper Eskimo of Coronation Gulf and Victoria Island to the culture, lifestyle, and technology of Caucasian North America. And Ikey Bolt was one of the most outstanding members of that party. He was an Alaskan Eskimo who, far from his native land, made his home among these people and built a reputation for integrity and community service that will not easily be forgotten. Ikey Bolt was born in Point Hope, Alaska, on 19 January 1894, in a whale-hunting culture that provided him with stories of the hunt with which he would regale his listeners all his life. Recruited in his late teens as an interpreter for the Canadian Arctic Expedition, he made his initial trip to Canada. ... The best appreciation of Ikey Bolt's contribution to the region can only be understood in the context of the times. Here is a native Alaskan whose people had been long exposed to the influence of southerners in the traumatic whaling era, a period of mixed blessings if ever there was one. In joining the Canadian Arctic Expedition he made contact with a people who were literally just emerging from the Stone Age, a people who had no steady contact with explorers until the Canadian Arctic Expedition arrived. They hunted with harpoons and with bows and arrows, and they had no recourse to any products of southern technology except for bits of iron traded with distant neighbours who had obtained them from abandoned ships. The introduction of a different way of life - new methods of trapping animals to be exchanged for trade goods - had all the potential for cultural devastation and the erosion of even the best of their indigenous philosophy. But the presence and influence of natives who had themselves survived similar upheavals and yet maintained a strong sense of spiritual and cultural values made a profound difference. ...






Arctic Profiles