The Notigi Lake Site and the Woodland Periods in northern Manitoba

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Tisdale, Mary Ann.
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The prehistory of northern Manitoba is only sketchily known now, and was virtually unexplored before l966 (Wright 1971). Efforts to collect archaeological data were stimulated by initiation of major hydroelectric development along the Churchill and Nelson Rivers and the intervening basin of the Rat and Burntwood Rivers. Initially, research goals of the Churchill Diversion Archaeological Project were those of locating sites and compiling an inventory of locations, densities and. diagnostic materials. One of the more unexpected outcomes of this progran was the recovery of Middle Woodland ceramics (Laurel Ware) as far north as Southern Indian Lake. The discovery raised questions re1ating to the geographic range, formal variation and time depth of Laurel Pottery, as well as to the definition of an associated tool assemblage. The Notigi Lake Site is one of four discovered by Wiersum (1972) containing Laurel components. These sites share characteristics of geographic situation, size and content, so it was desirable to develop a format wherein the laurel components of each could be compared. This task was seen as a preliminary step, preceding comparisons with Shield Archaic, Late Woodland and other Middle Woodland materials in other research locales. Laurel ceramics have traditionally constituted the basis upon which a Laurel culture was defined (Stoltman 1973), and laurel pottery has been widely studied (Brose 197O, Buchner 1976; Janzen 1968; Mason 1967; Stoltman 1973; Wright 1967). However, definition of a distinctive Laure1 too1 assemblage, and from there the technological subsystem of a culture, has not been very successful. Uniformity of lithic traditions from Archaic to Middle Woodland Periods has been postulated (Wright 1972). However, for the sake of thoroughness, the position taken here is that analysis, particularly of lithic debitage, and of lithic materials as a who1e, suffers from a lack of rigor and a limited analytic framework. An attempt will be made to explore a more concise and detailed approach involving: 1) methods of distinguishing tool from debitage forms, 2) reconstruction of lithic reduction sequences and 3) examination of some assumptions behind the functional connotations of lithic tool categories. The physical context, i.e. location of each kind of cultural debris and the arrangement of associated materials, contributes to each of these three directions of analysis...