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Inuit in the United States

Inuit in the United States

(p.35) 2 Inuit in the United States
Do You See Ice?
Karen Routledge
University of Chicago Press

This chapter is about the Inuit couple Hannah (Tookoolito) and Ipiirvik (Joe), who are best remembered for working for Charles Francis Hall on three Arctic expeditions. It focuses instead at the couple's time in the United States. American observers often imagined that the couple’s lives improved upon leaving the Arctic, but in many ways this was not true. Surviving records suggest that they struggled to adjust to a new landscape, climate, and ways of thinking. For Inuit travelers, life in the United States could be as strange, as lonely, as confusing, and as dangerous as American encounters with the Arctic world. I examine the couple's attempts to adjust to life in America in order to show that it was no more or less a “natural home” than Cumberland Sound. This chapter is structured around a series of Sundays, reflecting a fundamental way that Hannah and Ipiirvik reordered their lives in the United States. Five factors that hindered Hannah and Ipiirvik from feeling at home are discussed in detail: constant scrutiny and judgment by strangers, frequent travel, authoritarian attitudes towards them, a new type of economy, and devastating illnesses.

Keywords:   Ebierbing, Tookoolito, Ipiirvik, Hannah, Charles Francis Hall, Inuit, exploration, Indigenous, Polaris, disease

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