Nunani: Now and then (Part two)
RACHEL ATTITUQ QITSUALIK
Those members of the inlander family who made a profit by bringing much-needed coastal goods back home knew that they could only get ahead of their competition by getting the coastal people to receive less in trade than coastals were actually giving. The inlanders accomplished this by encouraging infighting among the coastal family members — the divide and conquer strategy.
It worked for a while, but eventually the coastal people saw what some of these inlanders were doing to them. Many of them began to demand a return to their original, coastal lifestyle, the way things were before the inland family settled among them. So they began to cut off relations with the inlanders, tried to drive them away from the coast, back to where they came from.
Now, by this time, the inlanders — at home and on the coast — had come to rely upon the wealth of resources the coast offered. There was no way they were going to go back to their original lands; they felt that the coast now belonged just as much to them as to the coastal family.
They were ready to fight for it. So mass skirmishing erupted between the inland family and the coastal family. But the feuding did not last long, since the inescapable fact was that the inland family was much larger than the coastal family. Fortunately, since neither side wanted to fight, they quickly negotiated a peace settlement — the coastals agreed to settle in their most prized traditional areas, while the inland descendants were to have the rest of the coast. Thus was the coast divided up, with either family agreeing that it would never trespass into the other’s area.
But the peace was fleeting.
The inlander family was large, prospering in their new coastal lands. And there grew a greater and greater demand for resources, so that the inlanders began, over time, to enviously eye the lands belonging to the coastals.
The problem began with inlander members who, on their own initiative, trespassed into coastal lands to harvest whatever they wished. And as the flood of invasive inlanders swelled, the coastals became increasingly angered, and decided that something must be done.
The leaders of the coastal family decided to confer with the leaders of the inland family, to remind them of the peace settlement. But the inlanders had become smug and conceited over time, realizing that they had always possessed the upper hand. So they condescended to the coastal leaders, waving away their appeal. In the end, they issued an ultimatum to the coastal family: For small recompense, the coastals must move out of their current lands.
You see, as it turned out, when the peace settlement had originally been negotiated, the inland family thought it had been getting the better part of the deal. They had believed, when the deal was forged, that the lands the coastals would settle into was utterly worthless. This had turned out to be untrue. In fact, while the inlanders had not realized it at the time, they now saw that the lands belonging to the coastal family were very valuable indeed. Their position was:
“We know we agreed that you would have it. But at the time, we didn’t know it was so valuable. Now we want a new deal.”
The inlander family demanded that the coastal family move to the worst part of the coast, a place where hunting was poor, and life would be difficult. The coastals, finally, would be displaced from their traditional home.
The coastals decided that the word of the inlanders was worthless. Life was not worth living anywhere else. So they waged a war against the inland family, trying to drive them back inland, trying to take back the coast. But it was far too late; the coastals were too few in comparison to the inlanders.
And, by this time, the inlanders were only too happy to have such a war. This was their chance to say openly,
“See how aggressive that coastal family is? We were only trying to prosper, but they would deny us this. We tried to negotiate, but now they want to fight. We need to protect ourselves.”
But, secretly, they whispered amongst themselves,
“Besides, this is finally our chance to get rid of those worthless coastals.”
For why trade when you can take?
(Continued next week.)