Bone and antler tools from the Victoria Day site (Manitoba) : building bridges with First Nation communities through experimental archaeology

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Brownlee, Kevin M.
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Archaeological research in the province of Manitoba is shifting towards collaborative projects with First Nation communities. The aim of this project was to establish a collaborative model for Indigenous research through the involvement of the First Nation community and the use of experimental archaeology. Members of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation were involved throughout the entire research process, from excavation to analysis. Recent archaeological work in northern Manitoba has recovered several human burials in a remarkable state of preservation. Individuals interred with bone and antler tools provide us a rare glimpse into the use of perishable materials. This research project focuses on the bone and antler tools associated with burial of an adolescent male, dating to 4,000 BP from the Victoria Day site (GkLr-61, feature 2) on Threepoint Lake. The tools were studied following an 'operational sequence' or 'chaine operatoire' method of analysis, focusing on the entire "life cycle" including the acquisition of raw materials, the manufacturing process, use and re-use of the tool and final deposition. Interviews were conducted with members of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and their insights guided the use of experimental archaeology to evaluate tool performance. The results of this project provide important insights into the culture of the people who lived in the Boreal Forest of Manitoba 4,000 years ago and are presented in a format that is meaningful to both the Indigenous community and archaeologists.