Wanuskewin Heritage Park and the concept of resource patches, ecological islands, and special places on the Northern Plains

by author] [No

Institution: University of Saskatchewan
Year: 2016
Keywords: Wanuskewin; Wolf Willow site; Resource Patches; Ecological Islands; Island Biogeography; Sacred Islands
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2067488
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10388/ETD-2016-04-2393


The Wolf Willow site (FbNp-26) is a multicomponent Precontact site located within the confines of Wanuskewin Heritage Park approximately 2 km north of the city of Saskatoon Saskatchewan. The site was excavated during 2010 and 2011 field seasons with the participation of The University of Saskatchewan’s archaeological field school and the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society’s field school. As a result of these excavations, 30 m2 were exposed and four distinct cultural levels were identified. These include the Plains Side-Notched complex, Prairie Side-Notched complex, McKean series, and Oxbow complex cultures. An analysis of artifacts, ecofacts, and features from each cultural level was undertaken in order to determine site usage for each time period. Ecological concepts are often used as heuristic devices in archeological studies. The theory of island biogeography and the study of patch dynamics are two concepts that can lend themselves to the archeological study of past human groups. Island biogeography was developed to explain speciation in insular environments. In archeological studies, the same mechanisms affecting speciation can be employed to study the development of culture. Patch dynamics can be used to hypothesize how resource availability affected the behavior of past populations. Using the aforementioned concepts, the Wanuskewin/Opimihaw Valley area can be viewed as a terrestrial island. The unique combination of resources both tangible and intangible combined to make the area a draw for Precontact populations for the past 6000 years. Wanuskewin continues to attract people from around the world as a centre of spiritual and cultural renewal, a world class tourism destination, and an educational facility. Advisors/Committee Members: Walker, Ernie (advisor), Kennedy, Margaret (committeeMember), Robertson, Elizabeth (committeeMember).