Early records of Western encounters with Native peoples have fixed history within the conventional views of their time. This article examines such a perspective inscribed in a journal written by a British naval commander during an Arctic assignment in the mid-nineteenth century. Over a two-year period he chronicled daily interactions between the crew of his ship and members of a nearby Iñupiaq Eskimo village on the North Slope of Alaska. His categorizations of native aggression and gender differences are examined within the context of contemporary knowledge about Iñupiaq ethnohistory. Additionally, his entries expose another dimension of this encounter—the dependency of this British enclave upon local people for resources, knowledge, and other forms of assistance. The Admiralty's restriction on the use of force during this mission makes their need all the more apparent. I propose that British dependency was a critical element in the dynamics of power between the two groups and has implications for other early encounters as well.

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