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From 1769 to 1772, Samuel Hearne embarked on the first European overland expedition to the Arctic under orders from the Hudson’s Bay Company. In search of copper reserves and sites for future company forts, the Hudson’s Bay Company outfitted Hearne with a group of Chipewyan and Cree guides that would take him to the lands past the Arctic Circle where no other European had been. As the only European in his expedition party, Hearne had to quickly adapt to the Athabascan way of life and found his English and imperialist cultural ideas challenged by his native travel companions. Hearne also became especially entrenched in the gendered aspects of Arctic indigenous life and saw first-hand sexual division of labor, marital wrestling contests, polygamy, and murder over the course of his three expeditions. Through his experience of gender in the Arctic, Hearne underwent a cultural change and by the end of his journey no longer viewed himself superior to the natives because of his European origins. Hearne returned to Europe with a more balanced view of indigenous culture and continues to be remembered and studied today for his unique cultural perspective.

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