In this study, I develop a theory of landscape archaeology that incorporates the concept of “animism” as a cognitive approach. Current trends in anthropology are placing greater emphasis on indigenous perspectives, and in recent decades animism has seen a resurgence in anthropological theory. As a means of relating in (not to) one's world, animism is a mode of thought that has direct bearing on landscape archaeology. Yet, Americanist archaeologists have been slow to incorporate this concept as a component of landscape theory. I consider animism and Nurit Bird-David's (1999) theory of “relatedness” and how such perspectives might be expressed archaeologically in Mesoamerica. I examine the distribution of marine shells and cave formations that appear incorporated as architectural elements on ancient Maya circular shrine architecture. More than just “symbols” of sacred geography, I suggest these materials represent living entities that animate shrines through their ongoing relationships with human and other-than-human agents in the world.
A comparison of identified faunal assemblages from the Dorset site of Phillip's Garden indicates that harp seal hunting was the main focus of activity throughout the site's occupation. Despite the highly specialized nature of site use, it appears that reliance on harp seal decreased over time while fish and birds became increasingly important. These changes may reflect longer seasonal occupations at the site in later centuries, and/or a decrease in the local availability of harp seal. The observed shift coincides with the onset of a local climatic warming trend, which might have affected harp seal movements in the area. Dorset subsistence and settlement patterns in Newfoundland are still poorly understood due to a lack of preserved faunal assemblages in the region. The temporal trend illustrated here indicates that we cannot assume that these patterns were static throughout the Dorset occupation of the island.
Native Americans have long relied on the oral transmission of their ideas rather than developing an alphabet and a reliance on written records. While the use of pictures to communicate basic concepts is found throughout Alaska during the historic contact period, the development of an alphabet or pictorial text among Natives in Alaska is extremely limited with examples found only in the Kuskokwim Delta (ca. 1901) and Seward Peninsula (ca. 1914). The later appearance of a pictorial text on Nunivak Island (ca. 1940) is believed to have derived from the Seward Peninsula style. Each of these texts is believed to have originated from the influence of missionaries. This paper traces the appearance and development of a picture text among the Nuniwarmiut Eskimo on Nunivak Island and its current status in the Mekoryuk community.
Professor Dumond's research on the Alaska Peninsula provided information that prior to 1,000 years ago people of both sides of the Alaska Peninsula shared material culture and exhibited subsistence interests that persisted into historic times, During the Late Precontact Era (ca. 1100 A.D. to mid-1700s) these Alutiiq societies shared cultural traits including language, house styles, and material culture with their relatives and neighbors on Kodiak Island. Until recently, few data were available regarding potential variability in house construction techniques, or styles and functions of Alutiiq semi-subterranean houses of this era found on the Alaska Peninsula, This paper provides examples of a few known prehistoric and historic Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Alutiiq houses and presents previously unreported data from archaeological tests at Marraatuq on the Central Alaska Peninsula, Taken together with Dumond's 1998-1999 field work at Leader Creek and archaeological research on Kodiak Island, the work provides further evidence that interregional interaction was strong during the Late Precontact Era. However, large population centers and ranked political hierarchies probably were not hallmarks of central Alaska Peninsula communities during the Late Precontact Era and historic times as they were on the Kodiak and Aleutian islands.
The study of archival materials and published historical and ethnographic sources shows that alcohol played an insignificant role in contacts with the aboriginal population during the Russian colonization of Alaska. The Russian-American Company (RAC) tried to fight alcoholism and limited access of spirits to the natives of the Russian colonies partially for moral and partially for economic reasons. The only Alaskan natives to whom agents of the RAC supplied rum in large quantities were the Tlingit and Kaigani Haida in 1830–1842, and among them excessive drinking became a widespread problem. The chief suppliers of alcohol for these Native Americans were the British and American traders at the end of the eighteenth century. In the mid-nineteenth century traders and whalers began to supply it to the Bering Sea Eskimos as well. Russian colonization was marked by efforts to limit drunkenness in the native populations. In that sense, Russian colonization was favorable in comparison with subsequent American colonization of Alaska.
Some stories enjoy a very widespread distribution in the North. Anthropologists and folklorists have long collected and analyzed these stories, and scrutinized their regional variants. Craig Mishler taps into this longstanding scholarly tradition as he looks at the widespread story of “The Blind Man and the Loon.” However, he goes beyond analyzing the form of this tale to explore what gives it healing properties. He wants to know why this story has become part of virtually every Native storyteller’s repertoire throughout the Arctic and Subarctic. One answer is that the main character and events of the story evoke the undeserved suffering that shapes the human condition everywhere. Much of the story’s power stems from its depiction of a ritual for healing the handicapped, thereby becoming a medicinal oral text. Additional power comes from the wide range of local and regional forms that adapt it to local sensibilities.
Insight into the relative importance of sheep and goat herding and of the economic significance of each species (i.e., milk vs. meat vs. wool) in Medieval Greenland is obtained through the application of Halstead et al.'s (2002) criteria for the identification of adult ovicaprine mandibles to faunal assemblages from three Norse farmsteads: Sandnes, V52a, and Ø71S. The economic strategies identified are broadly comparable between the two species and the Eastern and Western Settlement sites examined, and are suggestive of the subsistence production of meat and milk. Comparison with farmsteads elsewhere in Greenland indicates that socio-economic status and/or farmstead size interacted with geographical location in determining the economic strategies employed by the Norse farmers. A broader use of resources and a more varied diet are evident at larger farmsteads in Greenland and this paper suggests that such sites would have been better able than their smaller counterparts to withstand environmental deterioration during the early Middle Ages. These analyses have also confirmed that goats were relatively more common in Norse sites in Greenland than in Norse sites in Iceland, Orkney, or Shetland.
The Kachemak tradition was established by ca. 3000 B.P. in Kachemak Bay. Probably somewhat later a variant termed Riverine Kachemak, with a population adapted to salmon and terrestrial resources, appeared on the northern Kenai Peninsula. The Kachemak tradition people seem to have abandoned Kachemak Bay by ca. 1400 B.P. Seven of 12 available Kachemak tradition dates predate 1400 B.P. even at two sigma. Scattered younger dates are thus suspect outliers. The end of Riverine Kachemak tradition has been placed at ca. 1000 B.P., at which time the population was supposedly replaced by in-migrating groups ancestral to the Dena'ina Athapaskans. Close examination of the numerous available radiocarbon dates shows that most Riverine Kachemak dates cluster in the early centuries of the First Millennium A.D. and most Dena'ina dates substantially postdate 1000 A.D. Probably the Riverine Kachemak and Dena'ina peoples never met on the Kenai River. However, the correspondence in date ranges between Kachemak Bay and Riverine Kachemak is striking, suggesting their fates were linked. Both traditions collapsed by 1400-1500 B.P. The causes are probably multiple but do not include cultural replacement.
The existing corpus of data on radiocarbon dates for Holocene sites in Northeastern Siberia was used as proxy to reconstruct the chronology of human occupation of the region. The problem of reservoir age correction in the Bering Sea region complicated this task and this issue needs to be solved in order to obtain more reliable age determinations for coastal archaeological sites. Using a chronology built after excluding the questionable dates from the database, the major patterns of human population dynamics and their possible correlation with climatic fluctuations were examined. No direct relationship appears to exist between these two processes. Additional archaeological and paleo environmental work needs to be carried out in this region of the North.