Rethinking Eastern Subarctic History

Donald H. Holly and Moira McCaffrey

in The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195380118
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Rethinking Eastern Subarctic History

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If an area is perceived as marginal, it is often assumed that the history is too. Such has been the general assessment of the rocky and sparsely forested country of the eastern Subarctic. For a long time, scholars projected a rather dismal reading of this landscape into the past, with the effect that history was imagined as a struggle for survival, but otherwise uneventful. As a result, culture became adaptation and adaptation became history. It is difficult to reconcile this perspective with the archaeological record as it is now understood. Over the past few decades, an increasingly rich and complex picture has emerged from archaeological research in subarctic Québec and Labrador, and on the island of Newfoundland. It suggests that history here—rather than being the simple culmination of an environmentally appropriate calculus—was willed and crafted by people who were responding to changing social relations and social phenomena. With this in mind, this brief sketch of eastern Subarctic history aims to highlight the dynamic nature of social interactions through time.

Keywords: Subarctic history; social interactions; eastern Subarctic; adaptation; social relations; forested country

Article.  4194 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology of North America

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