ArchaeoCafé Podcast – Episode 2-11 – Wily foxes: An interview with Adrianna Wiley

hosted by Otis Crandell

In this episode I talk with Adrianna Wiley about the Thule Inuit usage and processing of Arctic foxes and about their modern day use by the Inuvialuit on Banks Island (Northwest Territories).

Listen to this episode online:



Some useful terminology and links

The Inuvialuit are Inuit people who live in the western Canadian Arctic region. They are descendants of the Thule who migrated eastward from Alaska.

Inuvialuit Living History (Inuvialuit Pitqusiit Inuuniarutait) project
A project focused on the little-known MacFarlane Collection of objects housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Banks Island
One of the larger members of the Arctic Archipelago. Situated in the Inuvik Region, and part of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, of the Northwest Territories. Many people have lived on Banks Island in the Western Arctic through time and used local resources to produce objects for everyday use and survival. As of the 2016 census, it had a human population of 103, all in Sachs Harbour. It is home to at least fourteen mammal species including the Peary caribou, barren-ground caribou, and polar bears.

The ancestors of all modern Inuit. They developed in coastal Alaska by the year 1000 CE and expanded eastward across northern Canada, reaching Greenland by the 13th century. In the process, they replaced people of the earlier Dorset culture that had previously inhabited the region.

qarmaq (plural: qarmat)
An Inuktitut term for a type of inter-seasonal, single-room family dwelling. To the Central Inuit of Northern Canada, it refers to a hybrid of a tent and igloo, or tent and sod house. Depending on the season, the lower portion was constructed of snow blocks or stone, while the upper portion used skins or canvas. They were built in the transitional seasons of fall and spring with a circular wall of stone, sod, or blocks of snow, a framework usually made from animal bones, which were covered with a skin.

ulu (plural: uluit)
An all-purpose knife traditionally used by Inuit, Iñupiat, Yupik, and Aleut women. It is utilized in applications as diverse as skinning and cleaning animals, cutting a child’s hair, cutting food and, if necessary, trimming blocks of snow and ice used to build an igloo. Traditionally the ulu was made with a caribou antler, muskox horn or walrus ivory handle and slate cutting surface.

Arctic fox skeletal anatomy
See the article below by Hervé Monchot and Daniel Gendron for a labelled diagram of the fox skeleton.

Arctic fox skeletal anatomy

Arctic fox skeletal anatomy (Monchot & Gendron 2011)


Selected reading

A Paleoeskimo Occupation on Southern Banks Island, N.W.T.
by Charles D. Arnold
Arctic, 1980, Vol. 33(3), p. 400-426

Fox Exploitation by the Paleoeskimo at The Tayara Site, Nunavik
by Hervé Monchot and Daniel Gendron
Arctic Anthropology, 2011, Vol. 48(1), p. 15-32


About Adrianna Wiley

Adrianna is an anthropologist and bioarchaeologist studying at the University of Guelph. Her research has focused on topics such as Arctic fox butchering, as well as mental well-being among university students. Her research project was funded by SSHRC, NSTP, Western University USRI.





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