M.A. Theses: Eva Mary Mina Linklater, 1994

The Footprints of Wasahkacahk: The Churchill River Diversion Project and Destruction of the Nelson House Cree Historical Landscape

Traditionally, the archaeological community has been indifferent to First Nations world views and oral traditions as a complement for interpretation of the archaeological record. My underlying thesis is that aboriginal history is recorded in traditional landscape and only through oral traditions can an archaeologist understand the past and the relationship of people to the land. Because of the integral relationship of land and history, First Nations cultures are always seriously impacted by large-scale resource development projects which destroy or alter traditional landscapes. This thesis examines one such project, the Churchill River Diversion Project and its impact upon the historical landscape of the Nelson House Cree of north central Manitoba. While this project dealt with concerns for environmental, economic and archaeological impacts, it did not address the question of Cree heritage values, how they are superimposed on the land as named places, and the consequences of their loss due to inundation. It is also argued that the philosophical basis of a typical archaeological impact assessment cannot address such problems. Rather these projects must become a holistic endeavour, integrating both tangible archaeological remains and Cree traditional history.