Dene involvement in the Fort Churchill fur trade market economy - a world systems theory application

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Bobbie, Lisa Corinne
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A significant change has occurred over the last forty years in the way archaeological and historical studies have perceived the way Aboriginal groups participated in the Western fur trade, from outdated portrayal of subordinate to a more accurate role as equal partner. A diachronic examination of Fort Churchill Trade Shop (IeKn-61) in northern Manitoba will provide a case study through which the Dene contributed to the market economy of the fur trade while maintaining their traditional modes of subsistence based around the migratory caribou herds of the subarctic. Employing world-systems theory, which attempts to relive the old patterns of thinking, would indicate that the Dene would abandon their central socio-economic on the caribou in favour of the new market economy focused on fur-bearers and European trade goods. However, aspects of this theory show the interconnectedness of the system from which follows that a partnership and control could be held by peripheral groups. A comprehensive analysis using historical, ethnographical and archaeological data sets are employed to determine the presence and degree of participation of the Dene at Fort Churchill through the 19th century. This examination using multiple lines of evidence provides an opportunity for a deeper understanding of Dene decision-making processes.
Fur Trade, Archaeology, History, Manitoba