Hunter Gatherer Research

Stratigraphy and storytelling

Imbricating Indigenous oral narratives and archaeology on the Northwest Coast of North America

Hunter Gatherer Research (2016), 2, (3), 303–325.

Abstract

Oral narratives and archaeological chronologies are diachronic systems of knowing the past. In this paper we explore how archaeologists working on the Northwest Coast of North America have imbricated these two ‘forms of knowing’ to achieve a more complete understanding of history. Indigenous communities on the Northwest Coast have transmitted their complex and dynamic oral narratives across generations for millennia. Indigenous knowledge keepers have upheld rigorous standards of transmission in order to maintain the legitimacy of their oral narratives. Archaeologists have therefore looked to Indigenous oral records as a legitimate and informative source for insight and interpretation. Through the application of archaeological survey and dating methods, archaeologists have been able to temporally and spatially anchor events recounted in oral narratives on the Northwest Coast. In concert, the results have added significant contributions to science, history, jurisprudence and other socio-political pursuits.

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Gauvreau, Alisha

McLaren, Duncan