PhD Dissertations: Kasstan, Steven, 2016

Caribou is Life:  An Ethnoarchaeology of Ethen-eldèli Denesųłiné Respect for Caribou



Descendant communities request that archaeological practices in Canada change to incorporate their traditional values and needs. This study directed by Ethen-eldèli Denesųłiné centres on their relationship to barrenland caribou. This research serves as a case study on how to close gaps between archaeological and indigenous communities by integrating community guidance and differing worldviews. This collaboration addresses how the relationship between the Ethen-eldèli Denesųłiné and the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq caribou herds helps to maintain cultural continuity. The study uses interviews of knowledge holders to understand how Denesųłiné relate to caribou. It documents variations in Denesųłiné techniques of caribou harvest, migration routes, and seasonal rounds. It provides data on how technological, social, and ecological changes influence cultural resilience. Because of the unprecedented ecological change occurring in the barrenland caribou ranges, this research has particular value for the Denesųłiné. This community oriented study uses ethnohistorical and ethnoarchaeological methods to understand Denesųłiné rules of caribou harvest and to show how Denesųłiné embed their respect for caribou in harvest and butchery practices. The Ethen-eldèli Denesųłiné believe that caribou is life, and think that the ways they show respect to caribou preserves and adjusts their way of life.

Keywords: Ethen eldèli Denesųłiné; barrenland caribou; anthropology of respect; ethnoarchaeology; cultural resilience; caribou is life