What is the history of iron and steel in Inuit culture?
How long have iron and steel blades been used for qayaq construction?
What were the sources of iron and steel in pre-contact cultures in the Arctic?
I have seen two research projects which date the use of steel on the west coast back to at least 500 years ago.
An archaeological dig at the Ozette Indian Village Archeological Site in Washington State revealed iron knives which were buried in a mud slide in 1560. "Hundreds of knives were recovered, with blade materials ranging from mussel shell, to sharpened beaver teeth, and iron, presumed to have drifted from Asia on wrecked ships."
I got a tour of Hanson Island with a Japanese dendrochronologist named Walrus. Walrus can identify the type of blade used to cut trees for cedar bark harvesting. Using tree rings he has detected the use of steel or iron blades on northern Vancouver Island 500 years ago.
"To date, more than 3,000 CMTs have been studied on Hanson Island. We estimate that the entire island holds more than 12,000 shaped trees. More than 20 kilometers (12 miles) of access trails now make it possible to marvel at a living record of Kwakwaka'wakw sustainable forestry spanning 1,300 years."
The ulu is an Inuit knife that has been in use for thousands of years.
"The ulu (pronounced oo'loo) has played an important part in the survival of Arctic peoples for over 3,000 years. Originally, ulu blades were made of polished slate; handles were made of wood, ivory, caribou antler or bone. Handles were usually made with a deep groove along one edge to hold the blade. Sometimes holes were made through both the handle and the blade and then sinew or hide strips were used to lash the handle to the blade.
Metal blades were introduced later and became the preferred material because of its hardness and ability to keep a good sharp edge. Old saw blades were preferred because they were made of tough steel and did not dull easily. In some traditions the ulu was made by men and given to women as a wedding gift. The knives would then be passed down through generations in a family."
Despite systematic suppression in academia, human presence in South America can be dated back 40,000 years. Measurements and pattern matching on very old skulls indicates a race of people in South America with black and aborigine heritage predating the migration across Bering Strait. It gets more intriguing. Screws and machine parts have been extracted from coal deposits dating over 100,000 years old.
There is clear evidence that the Chinese Expedition of 1422 spend time on Vancouver Island and left behind Chinese coins and steel knives and transplanted sequoia trees from California.
Inuit in the Mackenzie Valley have claimed that the use of steel tools in the Arctic can be traced back 1200 years.
Metallurgy has a long history in South and Central America and China but not the North-West or Arctic. I assume that steel was traded along the coast to the west coast and Arctic from China or Mexico or both. The use of iron and steel in native culture in North America is a topic I would like to spend more time researching.