Aboriginal land use patterns in the boreal forest of north-central Manitoba : applications for archaeology

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Malasiuk, Jordyce Anne
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This thesis presents a set of ethnohistoric reconstructions of Aboriginal land use patterns in the interior boreal forest of north-central Manitoba. In the boreal forest, the ways that people used the land varied seasonally. Land use could also vary for people of different cultures, and would change over time as those cultures changed. In order to highlight this variability, the seasonal rounds of the settlement and subsistence activities of both the Rock Cree and of the seasonally resident Caribou-eater Dene peoples are hypothesized for the Late Woodland Period (c. 1300 to 350 B.P.). Changes to these seasonal rounds in response to changing economic and social conditions of the European fur trade and to resulting changes in the resource base are considered in reconstructions of the Cree and Dene seasonal rounds during the Early Fur Trade Period (c. A.D. 1611 to 1820). These reconstructions have been developed based on a detailed study of ethnographic, historical and emic sources of data on both the Rock Cree and Caribou-eater Dene and culturally similar Algonquian and Athapaskan peoples in similar environments. The details on land use activities and criteria for site selection contained within these diverse sources have been reviewed, evaluated for consistency and relevance to the study region, and synthesized to produce the reconstructions of seasonal land use presented. Attention is paid to how different peoples were interacting with their environments, i.e. what activities were being located where, when and why. Thus, study of these reconstructions can help increase our ability to understand, explain and predict archaeological site distributions and the underlying systems of land use in a boreal forest environment. Suggestions are made for how this might be done through the use of predictive modelling. Minimally, these ethnohistorical analogues call attention to those types of locations that could be expected to have moderate to high potential for specific uses, but which have been traditionally under-represented in archaeological survey because of the "archaeological invisibility" of those activities and/or survey bias.