Do You See Ice?Inuit and Americans at Home and Away

Do You See Ice?Inuit and Americans at Home and Away

Karen Routledge

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226580135

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

The Arctic has long been categorized by outsiders as a difficult place: bleak, cold, icy, barren. Adjectives like these settled over the Arctic in the mid-nineteenth century. They continue to shape how outsiders interact with northern peoples and landscapes. Yet there is a much larger and deeper world beneath the surface of Arctic stereotypes. Do You See Ice? returns to the period of 1860-1920, when sensational tales of Arctic hardship gripped audiences, to look at a wider variety of Inuit and Americans at home and away. The book explores the lives of Inuit and American commercial whalers in the Inuit homeland of Cumberland Sound. As a counterpoint, it also relates experiences of Inuit travelers in the northeastern United States, and of Inuit and Americans on a polar expedition. By showcasing specific places in both Arctic and temperate locations, the author considers how the experience of a “harsh environment” is contingent on human factors. This book is about ideas of home: how Inuit and Americans often experienced each other’s countries as dangerous and inhospitable, how they tried to feel at home in unfamiliar places, and why this continues to matter. It considers meanings of home and how people tried to find comfort and safety in new or changed surroundings. It also examines the relationship between time and home. Based on archival research and conversations with Inuit Elders and experts, Do You See Ice? explores the unmaking and remaking of homes that lie at the heart of colonial encounters.