Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology (PhD)
Archaeological Contributions to Canadian Indian Residential School Reconciliation
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This dissertation explores the intersections of past human settlement and the dynamism of coastal landscapes in the Prince Rupert Harbour area, in Tsimshian territory on the northern Northwest Coast, British Columbia. Taking relative sea level (RSL) and shoreline change as a major physical force in coastal people’s lives, both past and present, I explore how coastal fisher-hunter-gatherers occupied this transforming landscape and ultimately consider ways in which people’s engagement with the shores they lived upon may have been generative of new relationships to place and people. A reconstruction of the history of RSL change over the last 15,000 years is developed and presented. This is used to design a predictive model for landforms ideal for human habitation associated with raised paleoshorelines. A field survey of several of these targets identified three archaeological sites dating between 9500 and 6000 BP, pushing the archaeologically-recorded occupation of the area back 3000 years. These early Holocene sites indicate persistent use of places into the later Holocene as shoreline positions shifted with regressing RSL; it is proposed that this is associated with notions of territorial proprietorship acquired through historical precedence of use. The second half of the dissertation presents a study of the developmental history of several large late Holocene village sites associated with massive anthropogenic shell-bearing components. It is argued that these sites themselves are significant anthropogenic transformations to shorelines, and it is demonstrated that there are instances where shell was very rapidly accumulated to raise, extend, or level landforms, and likely to buffer against foreshore erosion. I contend that many of the landscapes of the Northwest Coast are ‘fisher-hunter-gatherer built environments’, and argue that increased physical investments in modifying coastlines may be associated with a transformation in the way territorial proprietorship is conceived. Specifically, I suggest it is associated with the formalization of institutionalized proprietorship systems similar to the rigid systems observed ethnographically for the Tsimshian, and that this may have resulted from the arrival of large numbers of newcomers to the region over the last 3000 years. The institutionalization of systems governing access to territory and resources enhanced social inequalities.
The ethnographic and archaeological data on Nlaka’pamux Interior Salish rock art is among the richest of its kind in North America and offers a rare opportunity to study indigenous rock art in the historical and cultural context of its production. Direct historical and cultural continuity offer the advantage of foregrounding indigenous taxonomy and interpretation. With multiple sources available (ethnographic texts, historical texts, archaeological data and localized indigenous knowledge) Nlaka’pamux rock art can be detached from western theory and studied empirically (temporally and spatially) as a material signature of practice within a circumscribed territory. Nlaka’pamux rock painting, according to oral tradition, is an ancient practice. Many rock paintings visible today appeared on certain landforms after the arrival of Europeans and pathogens (smallpox) on the east coast of North America. Oral traditions state that Nlaka’pamux knew of European presence prior to face to face contact and took active measures to mitigate the impact using culturally prescribed means —speeches, dances and rock painting which occurred at 50 or so locations throughout the territory along travel corridors as early as the 16th century and into the 20th century. In all its phases, Nlaka’pamux rock painting is a pro-active historically contingent act of intervention with protection, demographic revitalization and intergenerational memory in mind.
Domestic animals, particularly cattle and pigs, were a cornerstone of European colonial projects around the globe (ca. 1500-1900 AD). Livestock husbandry and trade provided not only a source of food, labour, and raw materials for daily life, but also held symbolic significance as a factor in establishing colonial group identity. This dissertation uses stable isotope analyses to reconstruct domestic animal trade and husbandry practices associated with the global expansion of European colonial activities into the New World between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Research has been divided into three standalone projects, each designed to make a significant contribution to the current literature in the field of isotopic-zooarchaeological analyses. These projects are unified through a common theme of exploring the social roles of animal husbandry and trade and, together, provide a cohesive demonstration of how historical and isotopic faunal records can be integrated to advance archaeological interpretations of human-animal interactions. Paper 1 presents the first stable carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotope study of faunal remains from the unique archaeological context of a shipwreck (the William Salthouse, sunk in 1841), which provides an outstanding opportunity to assess how faunal isotopic patterns at archaeological consumption sites would be influenced by inclusion of animal products acquired through long-distance transportation. Paper 2 presents a stable carbon and nitrogen isotope study of domestic livestock and meat trade in nineteenth-century Upper Canada (now Ontario). This is the first large-scale isotopic analysis of historical faunal remains in North America and shows how consumption of foreign and local animal products can be linked with different groups of people to reveal social dimensions of meat trade in urban settings. Paper 3 presents stable carbon and nitrogen analyses of faunal remains for the seventeenth-century shipwreck La Belle, associated with La Salle’s famous attempt to colonize the mouth of the Mississippi River. This study reconstructs pig husbandry practices in the context of detailed firsthand historical accounts to show that for La Salle’s colonists, domestic animal husbandry likely reflected significant cultural importance, rather than economic and subsistence factors.
This dissertation examines multiple scales of Indigenous history on the Northwest Coast from the disciplinary perspective of archaeology. I focus on cultural lifeways archaeologically represented in two key domains of human existence: food and settlement. The dissertation consists of six individual case studies that demonstrate the utility of applying multiple spatial and temporal scales to refine archaeological understanding of cultural and historical variability on the Northwest Coast over the Mid-to-Late Holocene (ca. 5,000-200 BP). The first of three regionally scaled analyses presents a coast-wide examination of fisheries data indicating that Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) exhibit a pervasive and previously under-recognized importance in Northwest Coast Indigenous subsistence practices. Next, I use zooarchaeological data from the southern British Columbia coast to identify a pattern of regional coherence in Coast Salish and Nuu-chah-nulth hunting traditions reflecting the scale of intergenerational cultural practice. The third study re-calibrates the settlement history of a small and historically significant locality in Coast Tsimshian territory (Prince Rupert Harbour) to clarify the temporal resolution of existing radiocarbon datasets and test inferences about social and political change. Following this regional exploration of scale, I document site-specific temporal variability in archaeological fisheries data from a Nuu-chah-nulth ‘big-house’ reflecting climatic and socio-economic change. I examine Indigenous oral histories and archaeological datasets to evaluate these parallel records of settlement in the neighbouring territory of an autonomous Nuu-chah-nulth polity before and during the occupation of a large defensive fortress. Finally, I demonstrate how everyday foodways are archaeologically expressed and reflect ecological differences and active management strategies within several spatially associated sites over millennial timescales. These linked case studies offer new clarity into long-standing debates concerning archaeologically relevant scales of cultural-historical variability on the NWC. They collectively demonstrate an enduring regional and temporal coherence for key aspects of indigenous resource use and settlement and a historical dynamism at finer scales. I argue this has cultural, historical, and archaeological significance as well as relevance for contemporary understandings of the Northwest Coast environment. I conclude that a focus on the pervasive aspects of the everyday over millennia offers insight into individual actions across broader patterns of history.
This thesis explores the applied use of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology in conducting comprehensive burial survey work in historic period, post-contact cemeteries. These results are based on research conducted from 2008 to 2011 within several First Nations post-contact cemeteries along with work done in other less-defined burial sites in Southwestern British Columbia. My research has been informed by other types of GPR surveys conducted during that period and through 2015, that have added experience in GPR project management, data collection, trace signal analysis, interpretation and reporting. I have developed a recursive, interpretive model that creates a simple, direct and more objective process for evaluating any single or group of potential burial locations situated in a variety of physical contexts. The basic analysis is done by linking GPR signal results obtained from over 300 cases with either prior historical or field-work based knowledge of related ground surface, physical, ethnographic and documentary evidence. The model developed here quantifies the interpretative analysis of these data and develops what I refer to as a Burial Confidence Index (BCI) from a set of parameters or variables that reflects the full extent of our knowledge of any specific location. This allows for testing and statistical comparison of known versus previously unknown locations where GPR evidence is recovered. Other important aspects of GPR-related work in the community are also addressed in brief to provide more complete coverage of the many contexts involved, including professional, academic and social considerations.
This paper is an archaeological analysis of archival data relating to the sćəlexw village site, DhRt-2 (Musqueam East), located on the Musqueam IR 2 Reserve in Vancouver. DhRt-2 is the type-site for the Stselax Phase (approximately 1200 years ago to 1808 AD) in Charles Borden’s Fraser Delta Sequence. Despite being the subject of various research projects since the 1950s, with major excavations carried out from 1950-1961, a comprehensive site report was never written. Instead, Borden’s (1950; 1971) publications contained brief summaries of artifact types related to the Stselax Phase. The aim of this thesis is to collate and analyze the archival data from these excavations, focusing on stratigraphy and architectural features. This is supplemented by data from more recent research projects to provide a clearer understanding of settlement patterns and the site’s occupational history through time. Most importantly, the intention is to provide a comprehensive report of the early excavations that will be of value to archaeological researchers and to the descendant Musqueam community. This paper includes a history of the archaeological research at the site, as well as a presentation of the existing archival materials and analysis of the archaeological data. Three distinct occupational zones (related groups of layers and associated features) are identified and discussed: a wetland/river estuary, shell midden/terrace, and a village zone. Variations in the sequence of zones between excavation areas (Trenches 1, 2, and 3; Charles House; Units A-D) are considered as they relate to village development through time. Together, these analyses and data provide the first comprehensive view of this important archaeological site since excavations began in 1950.Supplementary materials: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/33744