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Inuvialuit examine Smithsonian artifacts

A group of about 10 Inuvialuit people has returned from Washington, D.C., after examining 19th-century Northwest Territories artifacts at the Smithsonian Institute.

A group of about 10 Inuvialuit people has returned from Washington, D.C., after examining 19th-century Northwest Territories artifacts at the Smithsonian Institute.

The clothing, drawings and tools are among about 550 artifacts collected by Hudson Bay Company clerk Roderick MacFarlane during his travels in the Northwest Territories between 1860 and 1870.

The items now make up the MacFarlane Collection, one of the largest and best-preserved records of life for the Inuvialuit, the western Arctic Inuit.

The delegation, composed  of both elders and youth from the Inuvik, N.W.T., area, went to the Smithsonian last week to share traditional knowledge about the collection items.

Albert Elias, a member of the group, told CBC News that one of the most intriguing pieces he saw was a shaman's parka made of caribou skin.

"It had all kinds of, you know, decorations and even some beads, which tells us that they were in contact with Europeans back in the mid-1800s," he said in an interview that aired Monday.

Elias also said he saw old knives, pouches, bows and arrows that reminded him of growing up at his family's camp near the mouth of the Anderson River.

Elias said he took many pictures from the exhibit and hopes to talk about his experience to other Inuvialuit.

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