The papers in this issue of Arctic [v. 42, no. 2, 1989] represent major contributions to a relatively recent development in the study of northern peoples, namely the extensive use of ethnographic and ethnohistoric information to augment excavations at late prehistoric and historic Athapaskan and Eskimo archaeological sites. ... The lack of both language facility and experience in the critical evaluation of published and archival source materials has characterized northern research in the past, but the papers in this issue indicate that researchers are becoming more sophisticated and systematic in the use of the information available to them. At the same time, northern libraries and archives are building their own collections and their holdings are becoming better known. Historians interested in the North are producing more studies relevant to the interests of ethnographers and archaeologists, and documents in foreign languages are increasingly being translated, annotated, and published. Most important of all, perhaps, is the renewed interest in traditional ethnography and the knowledge that, in fact, it is not too late to collect information about historic archaeological sites from elderly informants. Interest in exploring the possibilities of oral history is being encouraged by Native peoples intent on documenting their relationship to the land. Involvement of Native peoples in the research and the subsequent feedback of information to the peoples on whose land sites are being excavated can create goodwill and increase the rewards to be expected from ethnographic inquiry. ...It is clear that boreal forest archaeologists working in areas occupied by Eskimos and Athapaskans have made much progress in determining and using new data sources. Ethnohistory, in the broadest sense of the term, bridges the gap between contemporary field observations and archaeology, thus making possible systematic studies of long-term social change.
Current perspectives on western boreal forest life : Ethnographic and ethnohistoric research in late prehistoric and historic archaeology - a preface
Arctic, v. 42, no. 2, June 1989, p. 85-96
ASTIS record 28972
At the 1987 Society for American Archaeology Meetings in Toronto, several scholars gathered to present their most recent research using ethnographic and ethnohistoric information to study late prehistoric and historic Athabaskan archaeology in the western subarctic interior. ... The papers from this symposium make up the rest of this volume; this preface provides the reader with some background for better appreciating the papers that follow. The preface begins with a short historical summary of recent Athabaskan archaeology, including the use of ethnohistoric and ethnographic approaches. It continues with very brief summaries of the six papers as context for the subsequent comments, presented at the session by the symposium's two discussants, Polly McW. Quick and Donald W. Clark. Their comments touch on several important issues, including adaptation to environmental variability, the importance of explicit linkages between ethnographic information and archaeology, the value of oral history, the difficulties of projecting findings from recent historic sites back even to more distant historic sites, the promise and problems of interpreting social groupings from structural remains, the value of having northern researchers who live and work throughout the year in the North, and the need for better frameworks for linking ethnographic and ethnohistoric information with archaeology to permit some generalization. The preface closes with a discussion of future research directions and priorities. ...
Many descriptions of lifestyles in the western subarctic region have been built on the premise that the hunting and use of moose was a central feature of those lifestyles. While this may be true, it is worthwhile to question the time depth that underlies this adaptation and the degree to which it may have applied to former societies inhabiting the boreal forest region. Any such effort must include an analysis of available faunal remains from archaeological sites in that region. A consideration of the faunal record suggests that the intensive utilization of moose is relatively new in the western boreal forest, or at least was not widely characteristic of the late Holocene period. Thus, it cannot be assumed that the archaeologically designated late prehistoric "Athapaskan tradition" was isomorphic with modern subsistence regimes. To the degree to which large game played a central role in Athapaskan lifestyles, it was caribou, rather than moose, that seems to have dominated in the northern ecotonal region. Fish and small game seem to have dominated in importance in the southern coastal forest region, with a mixed subsistence economy characteristic of the central region. Historical factors, primarily involving widespread fires, habitat disturbance and impacts on predators, seem to be most responsible for the increase in moose numbers during the past century. The role of fire is particularly critical and may have had great influence on the nature and stability of past subsistence regimes in the boreal forest region, including impacts on both large and small game.
A habitation site at Healy Lake in eastern Alaska was occupied by Alaskan Natives more or less continuously for more than 10,000 years. After contact, Euro-American traders entering the area in the nineteenth century influenced the subsistence patterns of the Native people to the extent that a Native village evolved at Healy Lake, and this led in turn to the founding of a local trading post - Newton's - at the mouth of the Healy River nearby. In this way, a fixed Native community developed at Healy Lake in the late nineteenth century, with members of this community dealing with early Hudson's Bay and American traders on the Yukon River. In the early twentieth century - some time after 1910 and perhaps not until after 1917 - the community became permanent, and more sedentary, with more focussed trading patterns. Thus, trade became more localized (to Healy Lake and neighboring Tanacross) and Native interests shifted away from the Joseph winter village, and from the Fortymile and Yukon rivers.
The Athapaskans of the boreal forest of northwestern Canada and Alaska and the Indians of the northern Northwest Coast shared a similar social organization. It was based on the division of a group into moieties and/or phratries, tracing matrilineal descent, practicing exogamy, matrilocality, and sharing resources with other affiliate groups. The Sanyaqoan NexA'di Eagle clan was singular among the Tlingit in the early 20th century because they had a third exogamous group, as opposed to the rest of the Tlingit, who had two: the Raven and the Wolf/Eagle. Therefore, they were often scorned socially by their northern cousins. The NexA'di have also been an enigma to anthropologists. Whereas most researchers have identified the NexA'di as being outside the two major divisions, Olson (1967) suggested they represent "Tlingitized" Tsimshian Eagles. Recent research suggests that, instead, it was the Tlingit Eagles who, through division and migration, introduced the Eagle phratry among the Nisga'a. At an earlier time, the NexA'di or a related Eagle group was present among Tlingit "tribes" as far north as Frederick Sound. The Tlingit, specifically the Chilkat, Kake, Stikine, Tongass, and, of course, the Sanya recognize the NexA'di as being an ancient Tlingit clan that originated in southeast Alaska.
The deliberate observation of contemporary northern hunters is one way of enhancing the interpretation of the archaeological record in the western Canadian Subarctic. The paper is based on six months of archaeological ethnography at a residential hunting camp in the mid-Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories, Canada, followed by archaeological excavations at the same camp of Dene hunters. The conceptual framework of this research is ethnoarchaeology, which encompasses the theoretical and methodological aspects of a comparing ethnographic and archaeological data. A model for identifying teepee remains in the absence of surficial architectural remains is presented, based on the excavation of a currently occupied tepee at the hunting camp. This model consists of a number of attributes, ranging from a central hearth to subterranean storage facilities. The probability that tepee architecture is present increases with every attribute that can be documented archaeologically. The presence or absence of architectural remains is essential in the identification of site function, and site function is the key to reconstructing the regional settlement pattern in pre-ethnographic times. There is a certain urgency in integrating first-hand accounts of northern hunters with the archaeological record, as opportunities to do so continue to dwindle with the passage of time and the ever-increasing pace of culture change in the western Canadian Subarctic.
More active Dene involvement in archaeology and a shift in research strategies from culture history to ethnoarchaeology are gradually changing the way that the archaeological record of the Mackenzie Basin is studied. This is occurring at a time when the Dene are tired of being simply the object of inquiry and are becoming inquirers in their own right. Recent community-based ethnoarchaeological and archaeological research has involved Native elders as consultants in project design, data collection and analysis, and the training of Native youth as crew members. Collaboration between archaeologists and northern Native people poses new questions of mutual concern that integrate oral histories, material culture, contemporary land use and settlement patterns, and archaeological data. At the regional level of analysis, new hypotheses evaluate present and past interrelationships of Native place-names, resources, travel routes, and camp locations. Traditional Native knowledge of spatial usage and feature function allows more accurate archaeological definition of site structure and settlement types at both pre- and post-European contact sites.
Northern Athabaskans with extensive knowledge of their traditional history and culture are increasingly interested in preserving their heritage. The authors are working with Allakaket area Koyukon people in Alaska to record data on important historic sites and events, but they are also using ethnoarchaeological approaches, particularly Binford's models of settlement systems and site mobility, to help make the information they gather more valuable to both local Native people and archaeologists. Drawing on their preliminary data, as well as existing research, they describe changes in the late winter part of the seasonal round, showing how, over time, the Koyukon become more logistically organized as they become more sedentary. These changes have interesting archaeological implications, including effects on site mobility patterns. The Koyukon belief system, with an intricate set of traditional beliefs and practices, has significant, though largely unexplored potential for influencing archaeological variability.
Nookapingwa was one of the best hunters and most experienced dogsled travellers in northernmost Canada and Greenland during the first half of the 20th century. He played a crucial role in the European exploration of the Queen Elizabeth Islands and northern Greenland, having acted as a guide and hunter for such explorers, scientists and government officials as Donald B. MacMillan, Lauge Koch, officers for the royal Canadian Mounted Police (notably Inspector A.H. Joy and Staff-Sergeant H.W. Stallworthy), Edward Shackleton and David Haig-Thomas. He was instrumental in many of their achievements and sometimes their survival. Nookapingwa was born in the summer of 1893 in the Thule district of northern Greenland. ... [This profile chronicles his participation in and contribution to various expeditions in and around Greenland and the District of Franklin. He was renowned for his ability to hunt, to navigate through difficult terrain and conditions and survival skills.] Several geographic features have been named after Nookapingwa: Nookap Island (off th north coast of Devon Island); Mount Nukap (1783 m) and Nukap Glacier (both near the head of Gilman Glacier, northern Ellesmere Island); Nukapingwa Glacier and Nukapinwa River (north of Borup Fiord, northern Ellesmere Island).
Over a 35-year career as a public servant, Dr. Percy Elmer Moore affected the course of native health care policy in the Canadian North more than any other single individual. As director of the Indian and Northern Health service programs of the federal Department of Health and Welfare from their inception in 1946 to his retirement in 1965, it was Moore who implanted a modern system of state-directed health care in the North. ... In 1946, after the Department of Health and Welfare was created, Moore was made director of its Indian and Northern Health Services. The challenge was to mobilize an immediate response to the grim health conditions facing Canada's Indian and Inuit peoples in the Canadian North. In typical Moore fashion, he responded aggressively to reports such as that of Dr. G.J. Wherrett, who, working under a grant provided by the Rockefeller Foundation and concerned with health and hospital services in the Mackenzie River District of the N.W.T., documented the existing problems in northern native health care. ... The crucial years in this post were 1946-55, when the department and Moore faced a number of challenges in their drive to modernize northern health services. For Wherrett, and later Moore, the voluntary sector, particularly the churches, were an obstacle to the implementation of a progressive health care system. While the churches had provided a start at dealing with the problem of native health care at a time when the government had accepted only limited responsibility for this matter, in the postwar era the concern was that inter-church competition (for example, in Aklavik) and the use of medical facilities for proselytizing had discouraged usage and led to underutilization of beds and duplication of services. ... Moore challenged the role of the churches in the operation of hospitals and rapidly implanted a system of state-run primary health care facilities, including nursing stations and lay dispensaries in the North. As well, he led efforts to interest non-governmental agencies in northern native health problems. ... For all these accomplishments, however, Percy Moore was not without his critics. ... In one exchange between the Anglican Bishop of the Arctic, Donald Marsh, and the Department of Health and Welfare, Moore is cited as being belligerent in opposing a northern-based sanitarium for TB treatment, a strategy advocated to lessen the negative social/psychological consequences for native peoples of southern care. ... Dr. Percy Moore died of Alzheimer's disease on 15 April 1987. Along with his wife of nearly fifty years, Edna, and his daughter, Mary, he left the memory that his energy and vision had brought many of the health benefits associated with the welfare state to Canada's northern peoples. For this he deserves a prominent place in the history of northern social policy.
Bishop Paul Piché was a pioneer missionary far ahead of his time who witnessed the results of his labour to educate native people. He acted on his firm belief that education was for the children and founded educational institutions and programs for the native students in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. His love, strong conviction and confidence in his students influenced two generations of outstanding native leaders. ... In March 1959 ... he was consecrated as bishop and installed as Vicar Apostolic of Mackenzie in St. Isidore Cathedral in Fort Smith, N.W.T. ... The Northwest Territories was not recognized at the time as a diocese. His area covered more than 600 000 square miles, stretching from northern Alberta and Saskatchewan to the North Pole. During his first year of appointment as bishop, Piché worked to open Grandin College in Fort Smith. Native children were not attending high school and the government did not want to help. ... In the summer of 1964, Bishop Piché travelled all over the N.W.T. interviewing and recruiting native students to enroll in Grandin College, in Fort Smith, N.W.T. ... Grandin College was opened in the fall of 1964 with 60 boys and 14 girls. ... Academic expectations were high, .... Gradually music and band lessons, sport activities and camping trips were included in our schedule. These enabled the students to participate in activities together and develop lasting bonds of friendship. The Grandin students began to surface as those who were academically and physically talented from the outset. ... Bishop Paul Piché's knowledge of the need for love for, and attention to, children while educating them has yielded rewards that few achieve in their lifetime. He devoted his energy to create an environment that reflected his motto that education is for the children. He was a pioneer missionary far ahead of his time who was able to witness the fruits of his labour. He is respected and loved by his students and all those who know him.
Maurice Haycock, mineralogist, geologist, photographer, musician, painter, historian, radio operator, died in Ottawa on December 23, 1988, at the age of 88 years. ... [Haycock is remembered for his many talents and achievements including receiving the Massey Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 1980, receiving an Honourary Doctorate of Civil Laws degree from Acadia University in 1986 and the display, at Acadia, of a retrospective exhibition of more than 80 of his arctic paintings. A collection of his paintings resides at the University of Saskatchewan.]