Blackduck settlement in south-western Manitoba : land use and site selection

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Graham, James William
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The occupation of south-western Manitoba by Blackduck people from approximately A.D. 700 to at least A.D. 1300 is poorly understood by archaeologists. While many Blackduck archaeological sites are documented on the landscape, few have been properly excavated and interpreted. Ray (1974) identified a seasonal round of resource exploitation for Blackduck, in which it is proposed that Blackduck people occupied the aspen parkland during the fall and winter, and returned to the boreal forest in the spring. Archaeologists have largely accepted this model and this explanation has served as the foundation of similar models of Blackduck settlement. However, recently discovered Blackduck archaeological sites in southern Manitoba challenge the general acceptance of these models. Through an assessment of environmental variables related to site placement on the landscape, those most significantly influencing site selection are identified and used to interpret site seasonality. The research is conducted through a combined qualitative site survey and quantitative GIS evaluation. In this study, a model of year round Blackduck settlement in south-western Manitoba is proposed, in which Blackduck groups moved between the plains physiographic regions of south-western Manitoba in the summer and the upland physiographic regions in the winter. It is also proposed that separate groups of Blackduck people occupied the prairies and boral forest areas. These groups interacted with one another along the aspen parkland/boreal forest fringe, where social networks were maintained and ideas and trade items were exchanged.