An Overview of the Archaeology, Ethnohistory, and Traditional Use of the Miskweyaabiziibee (Bloodvein River) in Northwestern Ontario
By: Jill Taylor-Hollings
My PhD project investigated the archaeology of the Miskweyaabiziibee (Bloodvein River) within the Woodland Caribou Signature Site provincial park in northwestern Ontario and focused on the Late Woodland Selkirk Composite through to postcontact timeframes. It was enhanced by the availability of complementary Anishinaabe traditional knowledge as well as ethnographic and ethnohistoric information. Ten community archaeological survey projects were undertaken along the Bloodvein River in the Woodland Caribou Signature Site, as part of ongoing partnerships between Ontario Parks and Pikangikum, Lac Seul, and Little Grand Rapids First Nations within their traditional territories. Eighty archaeological sites and 24 quartz quarry locales were found. Results from fieldwork were combined with a reanalysis of assemblages from the only other survey of the river in Ontario, during the West Patricia archaeological study in the 1970s, to identify occupations spanning the entirety of the precontact time frame. An updated geographical overview was compiled for existing Selkirk Composite complexes and the northern, eastern, and southern extents were determined. A review of pertinent ethnohistoric and ethnographic references combined with information from Anishinaabe community members about more recent postcontact sites and land use provided informed interpretations of recent cultural and technological changes. By combining the different epistemologies of archaeologists, park staff, and Anishinaabe community members, a more holistic view of the ancient and recent people who lived along the Bloodvein River in Ontario was elucidated.