Bearing identity: a biocultural analysis of human remains from Old Mission Point (C1Dq-1), New Brunswick

Pike, Kelly-Anne (2014) Bearing identity: a biocultural analysis of human remains from Old Mission Point (C1Dq-1), New Brunswick. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis focuses on the biocultural analysis of human remains recovered from the site of Old Mission Point (C1Dq-1), located in northern New Brunswick. For centuries, the site of Old Mission Point was home to prehistoric northern Mi’gmaq peoples of the Maritimes region, and later, became an important seventeenth-century Récollect and Jesuit missionary settlement. The first research objective of this thesis was to explore the concept of identity, in both its biological and social forms, through the assessment of the skeletal assemblage. The second thesis research objective was, upon identifying the ancestry of the remains, to investigate those factors attributed to the maintenance and transformation of identity throughout the life course. This goal extended into understanding possible changes in identity for the dead, and whether burial environment, funerary rites, and afterlife beliefs affected or reflected the social standing of the deceased. Ethnohistorical accounts and oral traditions, archaeological data, and morphological and stable isotope analyses of the remains were all used to gather the information needed to fulfill these research objectives. The human remains were identified as Native American in ancestry, and date to the Early Woodland period (BC 500 – AD 300), as well as the Late Woodland (AD 1000 – 1534) and Early Historic (AD 1534 – AD 1755) periods. The skeletal assemblage consisted of both male and female adults, and several young juvenile individuals. The social and biological statuses of these individuals, as conveyed by the ethnohistorical accounts, influenced the interpretation of the morphological assessment and carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis results. However, it was found that discrepancies existed between the osteological, archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence, promoting the use of multiple lines-of-evidence and the tenents of the biocultural approach. The biological versus social identity trade-offs experienced by these individuals over the life course is interpreted as affecting Mi’gmaq social status, health, diet, and juvenile weaning practices. Moreover, it was found that the living identity of the deceased ultimately affected the manner and space in which the dead were buried. This evidence supports the idea that the living identity of the dead remained intact even after crossing-over into the afterlife, with social roles and responsibilities continuing on in accordance with Mi’gmaq cosmological beliefs. It is concluded that the formation, maintenance, and metamorphosis of identity over the course of life was integral to the lifeways and deathways of the precontact and postcontact Mi’gmaq.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 6356
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 213-234).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Archaeology
Date: 2014
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: New Brunswick
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Human remains (Archaeology)--New Brunswick, Northern; Excavations (Archaeology)--New Brunswick, Northern; Dead--Identification; Micmac Indians--New Brunswick, Northern--History; Group identity--New Brunswick, Northern

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