M.A. Theses: Simon Solomon, 2011


Shattered Glass and Broken Bones: Pikani Domestic Space 1880-1960

Reserves have existed in Canada for over 140 years, yet their archaeological correlates are virtually unknown. Historical archaeologists in North America typically focus on sites of European origin, so critical examinations of Indian engagement with Canadian society from an archaeological perspective are lacking. Using a combination of historical documents, oral testimony, and archaeological data, I examine the Piikani First Nation’s transition from tipis to cabins in the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries. I detail the Piikani adoption of alien vernacular architecture, exploring what elements of tipi spatial organization persisted once they adopted cabins. I document the material culture associated with a sedentary occupation. It has been assumed that, having adopted European housing, Indians lived inside them as “White” people did. Yet the organization and use of space within at least on Piikani cabin reflected continuity from their pre-reserve tipi lifeways, even though the associated material culture the indicated change.  

Keywords: reserve archaeology, tipi, cabin, culture continuity, culture change, Piikani, Blackfoot, social space, Plains