Mobility, ceremonialism, and group identity in archaic Newfoundland

Lacroix, Dominic (2015) Mobility, ceremonialism, and group identity in archaic Newfoundland. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English] PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (58MB)


This dissertation explores the world in which the first permanent inhabitants of the island of Newfoundland situated themselves. People of these First Nations lived in Newfoundland for thousands of years during the Archaic (5500–3200 uncalibrated years BP), leaving material traces in the form of objects and site locations. The three analyses presented herein use these material traces to investigate movements and contacts across the island, different expressions of burial ceremonialism, group identity, and ethnicity, and re-introduces the use of “country” to refer to land occupied by separate indigenous groups. Least-cost paths are used to model precontact routes of travel and suggest that a number of significant places along the travel route network played an important role for Archaic islanders. It suggests that Back Harbour, and perhaps Burgeo too, were central places; that the Deer Lake-Grand Lake junction may have been of particular ceremonial importance, and that Port au Choix was intentionally positioned at a cultural boundary. The investigation of the landscape setting and burial assemblages of Newfoundland’s only two known Archaic burial grounds at various scales further demonstrates important differences present between the burials at Port au Choix and Back Harbour, suggesting they were intended to fulfill slightly different roles, with Port au Choix acting as a gathering place for multiple groups, while Back Harbour appears to have been the central location of a single kin-group. The comparative analysis of stone tool assemblages from Newfoundland and its adjoining mainland regions reveals the presence of at least three contemporary and spatially distinct technological complexes on the island. Distinct regional patterns in access to food resources, burial ceremonialism, and location along the travel route network support the presence of multiple cultural groups in Archaic Newfoundland. This dissertation argues for the recognition of three ethnic groups sharing the island; people who inhabited separate countries, saw each other as different and maintained these differences over time despite repeated contacts and exchanges. It is time to move beyond the limiting notion of a single group of Maritime Archaic Indians occupying the island, a concept that over generalizes the complexity of the worlds present in Archaic Newfoundland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 11615
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 398-453).
Keywords: Least cost path analysis, artifact patterns, site location preferences, stone tools, ethnicity
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Archaeology
Date: October 2015
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Indians of North America--Newfoundland and Labrador--Antiquities; Indians of North America--Newfoundland and Labrador--Migrations; Indians of North America--Newfoundland and Labrador--Rites and ceremonies; Burial--Newfoundland and Labrador; Indians of North America--Newfoundland and Labrador--Ethnic identity

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics