Inuit Soapstone Pot

a seven inch fragment of an Inuit soapstone pot recovered at Hare Harbor in Quebec, Canada
Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center

For over a decade, Smithsonian Arctic Archaeologists have been investigating an early European whaling site at Hare Harbor in Quebec, Canada. The site and the artifacts that have been recovered has revealed important information about the relationships between Inuit peoples of Northern Canada and the European Basque whalers of France and Spain.

Seen here is an Inuit soapstone cooking pot found at an Inuit house in Hare Harbor, which is evidence of Inuit occupation in the region. In the 1500s when Basque whalers were active, Inuit conducted raids in Southern Labrador and the Strait of Belle Isle to get iron, boats, and other European materials. However, their ancestral homes remained in central and northern Labrador. After Basques departed, Inuit began moving into the Strait of Belle Island and into Québec, establishing winter villages at Brador, Belles Amours and Petit Mécatina where they begin working for Basques at Petit Mécatina.

Learn more about what has been uncovered at Hare Harbor and how it has helped scientists understand the relationship between Inuit peoples of Northern Canada and Basque whalers of France and Spain in the 16th century.