M.A. Theses: Elisabeth Louis Bedard, 1990

The Historic and Ethnographic Background of Fort d'Epinette (HaRc 27): Considerations for the Archaeological Determination of Ethnicity

This thesis undertakes a contextual examination of the artifact record from Fort D'Epinette (HaRc 27). The artifacts and their distributions are interpreted using ethnographic and historic data to determine whether archaeological identification of ethnic groups is possible. An attempt is made to determine whether the artifact assemblage contains distinctive distributions and types of artifacts that reflect the ethnic diversity indicated to be present in written records.

Through the use of historic and anthropological data, this study presents a picture of the events and social background at Fort D'Epinette on the Peace River in the early 19th century. Emphasis has been given to native Indian groups who participated in the fur trade and the stylistic and ethnic attributes of material culture which may reflect their presence within a fur trade fort. Those traits thought to reflect the presence of Indian groups are assessed against the artifact assemblage.

The examination of ethnically related traits within the Fort D'Epinette assemblage reveals some patterning. However, the link between this patterning and specific ethnic groups cannot be reliably determined from the data at hand. The historic and ethnographic background indicates an interdependence of groups in the area. Much of the spatial patterning of artifacts at Fort D'Epinette confirms this. The study indicates that determination of ethnicity within a fur trade context has limitation because of the multiethnic nature of the population which overrides the expression of ethnic traits. Interpretations of this lack of ethnic patterning are discussed. Finally, the validity of the application of the concept of ethnicity to a fur trade assemblage is examined, and suggestions are made for future studies.

Through the examination of the historic and ethnographic background and the artifact record from Fort D'Epinette, a more complete understanding of the social environment and its affects on the artifact record has been gained.