Diachronic palaeodietary analysis of prairie fringe peoples of southeastern Manitoba

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Ens, Denise A.
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Subsistence pursuits are intricately connected to social, political, economic and biological phenomena. The study of subsistence strategies, therefore, is fundamental to understanding a population. The objectives of this study are two-fold. First, is to develop a model of the subsistence that can account for the variability potential used in the prairie fringe of southeasten Manitoba. Second, is to contribute to stable isotope research in Canada. The principal method of analysis of the human remains from five burial sites is stable carbon and nitrogen analysis of bone collagen. However, this is a multidisciplinary study that incorporates dental palaeopathological, historical, archaeological, and environmental evidence into the analysis. Stable isotope analysis has seldom been used to study palaeodiets in the northern temperate zone in Canada. This study demonstrates the potential of this technique for biological and environmental studies within this region. The results suggest a tripartite subsistence modelfor the prairie fringe of southeastern Manitoba. This model suggests that prior to European contact subsistence strategies in this region were quite restricted. One strategy focussed predominantly on aquatic animals, and another strategy focussed on terrestrial animals. The latter strategy is further divided into two groups that either concentrated on boreal forest/parkland mammals, or groups that relied heavily on plains mammals. Furthermore, the highly diverse diet of the seasonal round recorded in historic documents may be a post-European contact phenomenon.