Archaeology - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Indigenous Heritage and Public Museums: Exploring Collaboration and Exhibition in Canada and the United States

Date created: 
2015-06-22
Abstract: 

The struggle for Indigenous rights to self-determination has included the recognition that Indigenous peoples are stakeholders in the treatment of their cultural heritage within museums. Large public museums tasked with representing Indigenous heritage tend to support the principle of working with communities to create exhibits, but studies on specific practices are lacking. I address this problem by asking: “What does ethical collaborative practice look like in the context of museum exhibit creation?” My research falls under three themes: 1) the history of collaborative practice; 2) collaborative processes; and 3) exhibit design. I show that patterns of increased collaboration were influenced by larger trends in Indigenous rights movements, and introduce the term “Indigenous museology” to frame engagement between Indigenous peoples and museums. I have defined Indigenous museology as museum work done “with, by, and for” Indigenous peoples, whereby they are recognized as primary stakeholders in museological practices. This dissertation presents a broad overview of the development of Indigenous museology over time, while focusing on exhibit creation as a key practice. My fieldwork consisted of a multi-site ethnographic study at four large, public museums: the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii; the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado; and the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, British Columbia. By exploring how these museums have engaged Indigenous peoples in exhibit creation, I found a variety of independent adoptions of similar principles. My results show that museums adopt a range of methods to engage communities, and that a “one-size-fits-all” practice for collaboration is impractical. Several patterns emerged that illustrate models for good practice. A preferred approach is to engage Indigenous peoples from the outset of projects. Even better is the involvement of Indigenous peoples as staff museum members working on interpretation. Techniques for effective design include storytelling, mobilizing “Native voice,” and programming that includes Indigenous peoples. Strong institutional mission and vision statements are also important. These ways of working are significant trends in museum practice. Finally, research on Indigenous museology illustrates how ethical, collaborative practices manifest and can be further developed within museums.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
George Nicholas
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Changing Ways, Constant Companions: The Ancient DNA and Local Knowledge of Tla'amin Dogs

Date created: 
2014-06-26
Abstract: 

Until the mid-nineteenth century, First Nations peoples in British Columbia valued dogs as hunting aides, draught animals, sources of fibre and food, protectors, and companions. Unfortunately, the details of these past human-dog relationships are not well known. To understand the importance of these dogs in general, and particularly the dogs once kept by Tla’amin people, this study integrates ancient DNA analyses with local knowledge. Interviews with Tla’amin community members and the presence of archaeological dog burials clearly show that dogs were an important part of ancestral Tla’amin society. Additionally, local knowledge and ethnographic evidence indicates that breeding and training practices served to both reinforce the bond between dogs and humans, and to improve the hunting ability of dogs. Ancient DNA analysis of 17 skeletal dog remains (3500-430 ya) from six archaeological sites in Tla’amin traditional territory has revealed a minor mtDNA haplogroup that was only found in Tla’amin dogs, however, the majority of mtDNA haplotypes are shared with many other archaeological dogs in BC. These results are consistent with local knowledge and ethnographic evidence regarding native North American dogs, and are reflective of trade networks and kin relations in BC, which may have facilitated the distribution of these dog haplotypes. This study highlights the importance of integrating archaeological data with local knowledge and cultural context to achieve a more complete understanding of the relationship between humans and their biological worlds.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dongya Yang
Department: 
Environment: Department of Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Ancient Human DNA Research in North America and Abroad: Challenges and Opportunities

Date created: 
2015-07-07
Abstract: 

The field of ancient DNA has revolutionized the way in which archaeologists and anthropologists investigate the lives of ancient people. However, there is a growing awareness that genetic research has important and diverse implications for people living today. These considerations are of particular importance for Indigenous peoples for whom genetic pronouncements about identity and ancestry may have important social, cultural, and political consequences. This thesis addresses these complex issues through three sources of information: literature on genetic research involving modern populations and how this translates to the context of ancient DNA; a review of case studies involving the genetic analysis of eight archaeological individuals found in British Columbia; and a survey completed by 47 ancient DNA researchers working around the world. The results of this tripartite study suggest that researchers working in this field face an array of social, ethical, and political challenges that differ significantly depending on the geographic location of their study. The unique needs, interests, and values of descendant communities situated around the world, and with whom the survey respondents interact, are important factors to consider when interpreting this difference. Three recommendations are provided along with relevant resources to assist researchers in navigating the challenges of ancient DNA research and to create opportunities for a more equitable and collaborative investigation of the human past.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
George Nicholas
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Expedient shell scrapers in the Kingdom of Tonga

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-02-19
Abstract: 

Shell has played a significant role as a raw material for tool manufacture in the South Pacific. Archaeological research on Lapita (2850-2650 cal. BP) sites in the Kingdom of Tonga recovered an assemblage of Anadara antiquata valves with what appears to be deliberate edge modification. These were collected, but at the time of collection, the origin of the shells was unknown. No other researcher had determined if these shells had been modified anthropogenically or whether the modification was the result of natural taphonomic processes. This study investigates whether or not the recovered valves represent a type of expedient shell tool, and if so, how they can be differentiated from naturally fragmented Anadara antiquata. The techniques used to assist in making these determinations include morphological analysis, a variety of experimental analyses, and a low power starch analysis.Taken together, the results of these analyses provide a robust case for the consideration of the valves as scraping tools, and further, they provide guidelines for identification of such artifacts in the field.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Burley
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Reauthorizing Kanaka Oiwi Heritage Discourse at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawaii

Date created: 
2014-07-24
Abstract: 

This case study examines how the management practices of Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park affect Kānaka ‘Ōiwi (also known as Native Hawaiians) and communities the park was created to serve. This National Historical Park was established in 1978 to provide a center for Kānaka ‘Ōiwi and others to rejuvenate the Hawaiian culture by rehabilitating Kaloko-Honokōhau as a thriving cultural landscape. However, as of 2014, the Park Service has yet to achieve the goals set out by the United States Congress in 1978. The National Park staff struggles to rehabilitate Kaloko-Honokōhau, that is, as deemed appropriate and desired by Kānaka ‘Ōiwi and non-Kānaka ‘Ōiwi. I use documentary data and information from interviews to understand Kaloko-Honokōhau management history, policy, and practice. I give particular attention to the management of Kānaka ‘Ōiwi cultural heritage and to how management practices and park policies create management challenges. I describe the shared goals of Kānaka ‘Ōiwi and non-Kānaka ‘Ōiwi and provide recommendations to re-align Park Service management practices with policy as a way to better fulfill the Congressional intentions.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John R. Welch
George P. Nicholas
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Heiltsuk Adoption of Euro-American Material Culture at Old Bella Bella, British Columbia, 1833-1899

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-02-20
Abstract: 

The contact-era Heiltsuk settlement of Old Bella Bella, British Columbia, site of both HBC Fort McLoughlin (1833-1843) and a Methodist mission (1880-1890), existed during a time of rapid change resulting from interactions with Euro-American groups. Notable among these changes is a shift from traditional plank houses to European-style single-family frame houses that occurred shortly after missionary arrival. Using data collected during a 1982 excavation, this study compares the artifact assemblages from Fort McLoughlin, one contact-era traditional plank house, and one frame house to analyze changes in the frequencies of various artifact types between the two contact periods. By looking at how European goods were incorporated by the Heiltsuk into their culture over time, this research examines the process of adoption of Euro-American material culture on the Northwest Coast and explores the idea that material culture was actively used by the missionaries as a tool of enculturation.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Burley
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Remembering the Forgotten Archaeology at the Morrissey WWI Internment Camp

Date created: 
2015-04-09
Abstract: 

To date, there is very little known archaeologically about First World War era Internment Camps, especially in Canada where many of the Federal Internment records were destroyed in the 1950s. Archaeologists can play a fundamental role in contributing knowledge where there remains a lack of oral and documentary evidence through a triangulation of data sets commonly used by historical archaeologists. This thesis focuses on one of Canada’s twenty-four WWI internment camps – Morrissey Internment Camp, and specifically its cemetery. Through an archaeological landscape analysis, GPR survey of the cemetery, archives retrieval and oral history interviews, the story of the Morrissey Internment Camp was brought to light and gaps in the historical record finally answered.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eldon Yellowhorn
Department: 
Environment: Archaeology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Identifying Microblade Function at EeRb-140 and EeRb-144, Kamloops, British Columbia

Date created: 
2015-03-06
Abstract: 

The microblade industry of the Pacific Northwest represents a discrete artifact category that is often cited as temporal and/or cultural markers, yet their precise function is poorly understood. The research presented here explored microblade function through use-wear analyses of assemblages collected from two Middle Period-aged sites (7,500-4,000 years BP) on the Kamloops Indian Reserve, EeRb-140 and EeRb-144. These two sites, related closely in terms of space and time, offer a good opportunity to explore some of the assumptions about microblade and their potential functions. Microblades are considered important indicators of Middle Period components. When encountered they are often presumed to reflect either elements of composite hunting weapons or implements utilized for a suite of specialized activities. However the results of the use-wear analysis indicate that, at least at EeRb-140 and EeRb-144, microblades served many purposes. The functional inferences observed in the Kamloops microblade assemblages indicate a degree of multifunctionality consistent with previous functional studies.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
George Nicholas
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Emergence and Development of Ancestral Polynesian Society in Tonga

Date created: 
2014-11-21
Abstract: 

Patrick V. Kirch and Roger C. Green proposed that Polynesian cultures today emerged and developed in an ancestral homeland situated in western Polynesia, primarily Tonga and Sāmoa. The archaeological marker for the beginnings of cultural and linguistic divergence from a founding Eastern Lapita base is Polynesian Plainware pottery produced for nearly 1,100 years during the Polynesian Plainware phase. Kirch and Green believe this transition reflects social and economic changes that led to the development of an ancestral Polynesian society. An ongoing debate in Pacific anthropology is whether archaeologists can convincingly identify and explain the historical trajectory of an ancestral Polynesian society. My dissertation evaluates the development of an ancestral Polynesian society in Tonga by identifying three processes that shaped its trajectory: isolation, integration, and adaptation. By focusing largely on undecorated ceramics from several Tongan sites, comparisons can be made within Tonga and across the archipelagos of western Polynesia that have implications for understanding unique island histories. If Polynesian culture developed in western Polynesia then the evidence for social and economic change may potentially be reflected in an adequate assessment of the archaeological record from the end of the Lapita phase into the Polynesian Plainware phase. That includes not only ceramic data but non-ceramic data such as site distribution, settlement patterns, subsistence practices, demographic studies, and geochemical source data – all of which provide a more holistic view of early Polynesian culture in Tonga and aid considerably in how we as anthropologists perceive past Polynesian lifeways and development through time.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Burley
George Nicholas
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The Cultural Context of Food Grinding Equipment in Northern Ethiopia: An Ethnoarchaeological Approach

Date created: 
2014-10-31
Abstract: 

Grinding stones have been in use by humans since the African Middle Stone Age and for food processing for at least the past 28,000 years. This study uses data collected and insights gained through ethnoarchaeological interviews and participant observations to document the technological and social interrelationships in the life history of grinding stones in northern Ethiopia. The study took place in northeastern Tigrai, Ethiopia, in a traditional (non-mechanized) rural setting using design theory and the chaîne opératoire approach. Research involved the comparison of gross morphology and contexts of modern and pre-Aksumite (1600 BCE – 1 BCE/CE) archaeological grinding stones which resulted in interpretations of efficiency changes through time. The knowledge gained through ethnoarchaeological interviews and observations when applied to the archaeological record revealed that during pre-Aksumite times, people in this locale were processing both indigenous grains (t’ef and finger millet) as well as imported Near Eastern domesticates.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Catherine D’Andrea
Sarah Walshaw
Department: 
Environment:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.