Alcohol, Economics and Property

While whiskey was introduced long before the whaling ships touched shores such as in Alaska, it seems that the whaling crews taught the Eskimos the process of distilling alcohol. They also seem to have brought the stills needed to make the whiskey. The result of putting their energy into making alcohol meant that sometimes, the Eskimos were unable to grow enough food to feed themselves. There was also a shift in the balance of power among the Eskimos. The elders tried to prevent the younger people from distilling alcohol, but they were not successful in keeping them from doing it. The younger people began to lose respect for their elders.

Economic relationships also changed because of the whalers' presence. The whalers paid in cash for such services as women coming aboard ship to cook and do the crews' laundry. Native men who went to work on the whalers also got paid in cash. For people such as the Maori who tended to own property as a group rather than as individuals, this caused a significant change in how they valued property. On land, once native peoples started raising pigs, they began to put up fences, which also tended to say "this is my property, not our property."

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