The history of the Canadian Arctic and Subarctic hints at how certain aboriginal American communities constructed identities across the lines drawn by differences in language and culture. This history also suggests that aboriginal communities' ability, or willingness, to stretch the limits of group inclusion faced certain environmentally and economically dictated constraints. A study of the relationships between Chipewyan Indians and their Indian and Inuit neighbors in the lands lying west of Hudson Bay in the eighteenth century suggests that Indian trading, cohabitation, and war-making served to create and reinforce culturally constructed intercommunity identities. These identities proved fluid enough to incorporate sometime rivals (the Crees and Yellowknives) as well as new trading partners (Hudson's Bay Company employees) while still excluding cultural others (the Inuit), at least until the end of the century. This study of the interactions of Indian and Inuit communities west of Hudson Bay suggests that, at least during the eighteenth century, the Chipewyan constructed a cross-tribal, trans-Indian sense of identity at least partially defined by their rejection of the Inuit “other.”

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