The Landscapes of my Ancestors: Using Archaeology to Tell the Story of Métis Connections to the Landscape.
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, fur traders and bison hunters known as the Métis moved throughout a landscape that encompassed much of the space between the Rocky Mountains and the region now known as the Canadian province of Ontario. As a culture Indigenous to the Canadian West, they developed a deep connection to the land as they navigated the relationships between their First Nations and European kin. While some Métis, such as Marie Rose Delorme Smith, wrote down their experiences of this time, many of the stories were passed down through oral traditions. But what happens when the chain of oral storytelling is broken within a family? How can today’s Métis maintain their connections to such a vast landscape without the stories of their ancestors? Archaeology is one tool that can be used to reclaim these linkages to the past and the land. In this paper I will discuss how the archaeology of three bison hunting communities can be used to tell the Métis stories connected with the surrounding landscapes.
Dawn Wambold is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta and an MA student at the University of Alberta. As a scholar at the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology, she is honoured to be able to tell the stories of her ancestors using archaeology. Her research focus is on the lives of Métis women at bison hunting winter camps. It is her hope that this research will help others know these remarkable women and how they, along with the men in their families, made their homes in the lands now known as Western Canada.
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