Remote pond yields insight into the eating habits, climate change adaptations and environmental legacy of a lost Inuit population: Dalhousie researcher
October 19, 2021
A small pond in a distant part of the Canadian Arctic has yielded important insight into the lives of an early Inuit society, along with information on the lasting effects the inhabitants had on the environment more than a century after they were decimated by disease.
Researchers at Dalhousie University and Laval University took core samples from the pond in Native Point, a significant archeological site on the southeast coast of Southampton Island in Nunavut that was inhabited by the Sadlermiut from the 13th century until their disappearance in 1903.
The team analyzed different layers of sediment in the pond, where residents butchered their catches and left behind the bones of mammals which can still be seen on site. Their research, published recently in Nature Scientific Reports, shows that the impact the Sadlermiut had on the environment persists today and that they adapted their diet in response to climate change.
The researchers also documented a persistent increase in the concentrations of several metals in the pond’s sediments, possibly due to the transport of pollutants from industrial activity thousands of miles away.
Dr. Andrew Medeiros, an assistant professor in Dal’s School for Resource and Environmental Studies, co-authored the study and is available to discuss how the pond helped reconstruct a society now long gone while also showing the effects of industrial pollution going back 120 years.
Please credit Reinhard Pienitz for photos of scattered bones, antler fragments and partly Paleozoic limestone gravel near pond.
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