Archaeological Gender-Based Spatial Analysis


Late Taltheilei Phase

In the 300-700 year-old Little Ice Age the Greenlandic Norse disappeared, some Canadian Thule sealers retreated inland to become Copper and Caribou Inuit, and Late Taltheilei caribou hunters borrowed the bow and notched arrowheads from either further west in the Yukon or south from Prairie bison Indians adjacent to the Beverly forest. But unlike their sources, the Taltheilei borrowers used the bow horizontally like their Chipewyan descendents and the Inuit (Thompson 1916). On the tundra, the use of the bow as discussed under projectile points, allowed greater access to hunting away from traditional water-crossings where lances were still used.

Late Taltheilei is 200-1300 years old, based on 38 radiocarbon dates. Beverly range dates agree with 185-1230 and 220-1290 year-old Bathurst and Kaminuriak range dates. Beverly forest sites are generally later, around 390-1275 years ago, with fewer 220-1150 year old tundra dates. Unlike many historic Chipewyan sites whose locations were determined by the Fur Trade, sites of the ancestral Chipewyan or Late Taltheilei phase overlay those of even earlier cultures on the Beverly caribou herd migration route, and are more numerous at the centre of the range. Sites are at Rennie-Lynx-Firedrake and Mantic-Sid-Mary Lakes in the Northwest Territories; then Black and Cree Lakes in northern Saskatchewan, then split along the Haultain and Mudjatik Rivers before ending at Saleski Lake, Buffalo Narrows and Churchill River even further south. Of 93 tundra and 154 forest sites, camps outside this route at Artillery, Clinton-Colden, Grant, Barlow, Boyd, Nonacho and Athabasca Lakes represent hunters of smaller subherds. Late phase hunters represent the final bands of herd followers before the fur trade and White-introduced disease ended most aspects of their traditional life.

Middle Taltheilei Phase

Under Late phase levels in stratified sites KjNb-5 to 7 and KkLn-4 are thick Middle phase beds dating 1300-1800 years ago. The other radiocarbon dates are on single buried levels at Rennie, Jarvis and Firedrake Lake forest sites. Most tundra dates in stratified levels dated not only a ton or so of quartzite flakes but many symmetrical ground stemmed lanceheads, knives and triangular scrapers, hallmarks used to assign thousands of surface tools in hundreds of other sites. That this phase saw the greatest range exploitation of all Beverly people under a warm stable climate is seen in the largest number, variation and distribution of bifacial butchering knives. Most big tundra water-crossings are at Warden's Grove, Hornby and Lookout Points, Ursus Island and Beverly Lake, while small site clusters are at north Artillery and Mantic-Mary-Sid-Mosquito Lakes. Big forest water-crossings are at Whitefish-Lynx and Damant-Rennie-Firedrake Lakes; small site clusters are at south Artillery and Noman-Nonacho-Gray Lakes. Sites are absent on the Churchill, but some are at Athabasca, Black and Cree Lakes, and Cree River. Three sites in the Bluenose and Kaminuriak ranges are dated, but dates are absent in Saskatchewan.

Early and Earliest Taltheilei Phase

The nature of Earliest phase tool styles and radiocarbon dates continue to inspire speculation on Chipewyan origin. Radiocarbon dates of 2485 and 2570 years ago in forest sites KdLw-1 and JjNi-2, and 2575 and 2605 years ago in tundra sites KeNi-4 and KkLn-4 suggest rapid inroads of the Beverly range by a small band of hunters quickly adapting to herd following. After the end of the cold Pre-Dorset period these first Taltheilei people likely entered the range via the east-flowing Peace River which pierces the Rockies and flows past Lake Athabasca. The Earliest phase people are included here because they are ancestral to Early phase.

The Early phase lasted 1800-2450 years ago, based on four radiocarbon dates west of the range, eight tundra dates at Grant Lake and Warden's Grove, nine forest dates at Whitefish, Nonacho, Lynx and Rennie Lakes, but none to the east. Western dates are from sites with shouldered Early phase points at Bloody Falls near the Coppermine delta (McGhee 1970), Fisherman Lake in the southwest District of Mackenzie (Millar 1968) and Artillery Lake (Noble 1971). Early phase points occur east in the Kaminuriak range but their sites are undated.

Early-Earliest sites occupy the complete range, with a Churchill River occupation on its Haultain branch. Tundra sites cluster at north Artillery Lake, Warden's Grove, Ursus Island-Thelon Bluffs and Jim-Sid-Mantic-Mary-Mosquito, Grant and Beverly-Aberdeen Lakes, with a few sites at Caribou Narrows-Lockhart River and Eyeberry and Barlow Lakes and Slow River. Forest sites focus at south Artillery, Lynx-Whitefish-Howard, Nonacho, Damant-Jarvis-Rennie-Knowles-Firedrake, Black and Athabasca Lakes, with some sites at Cree Lake and river. Stratified sites with Earliest Taltheilei levels are at Rennie and Whitefish Lakes in the forest and Grant and Mosquito Lakes on the tundra.

from Gordon 1996. People of Sunlight; People of Starlight: Barrenland Archaeology in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Archaeological Survey of Canada, Mercury Series Paper 154. Canadian Museum of Civilization, pp.55; 85; 115.

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