Ways Forward for Archaeology & Indigenous Sovereignty

Session Hosting Format: 
in-person session
Jeudi, mai 2, 2024 - 10:20am - 5:20pm
  • Lisa Hodgetts, Department of Anthropology, The University of Western Ontario
  • Natasha Lyons, Ursus Heritage Consulting
Contact Email: 
Session Description (300 word max): 

Indigenous Peoples and organizations have long histories of battling Western colonial institutions to re-establish their rights to self-determination. As affirmed by UNDRIP and other human rights instruments, Indigenous self-determination extends to the relations with and care of Ancestors and their belongings, and includes the right to self-government of internal affairs. In this session, we ask contributors what it means for the discipline of archaeology to take Indigenous sovereignty seriously. In Canada, we operate in a piecemeal system of local, regional and national policy and legislation that establishes archaeologists and other heritage practitioners as the de facto stewards of Indigenous Ancestors and belongings. How would fully respecting Indigenous sovereignty confront the status quo in Canada and elsewhere and reshape our understandings of archaeological ethics? How would it change the role of archaeologists and heritage professionals in the ‘management’, care and curation of Ancestors and belongings? What legal and policy avenues are being or could be pursued to effect the self-determination that communities demand? We invite contributors to weigh in on these and related questions from their respective standpoints, and to share case studies that are working to dismantle the colonial instruments of archaeology and restore Indigenous rights to and care of Indigenous cultural heritages.

10:20 AM - 10:40 AM: Archaeologists in Support of Inuvialuit Cultural Heritage Engagement, Self-determination and Sovereignty: preliminary findings
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Ashley Piskor - Western University

Inuvialuit are working toward Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination over their cultural heritage in response to and as resistance to the colonial systems that have and continue to impact their communities. Many archaeologists working with Inuvialuit are incorporating decolonizing theory and method into their research projects to amplify Indigenous voices and worldviews, and to deconstruct harmful colonial values and practices that alienate Inuvialuit from their cultural heritage.

My PhD research examines how Inuvialuit are engaging in their cultural heritage through education, social and digital media, community events, and on-the-land experiences. It discusses the challenges they are facing in this endeavour and how archaeologists and archaeological research can actively and practically support Inuvialuit cultural heritage engagement, sovereignty, and self-determination in culturally relevant and meaningful ways. In this paper, I will explore some of my preliminary findings and will discuss how this might reshape what archaeological research looks like in the Inuvialuit settlement region.

10:40 AM - 11:00 AM: Beaver, but not Dane-zaa: Supporting cultural resurgence of the Tsattine (Tsa-Dene) River People
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Jessica Z. Metcalfe - Lakehead University

The name ‘Beaver’ was used by Europeans to describe those Dene people whose traditional territory centres on the Peace River of modern NE British Columbia and NW Alberta. A rich body of anthropological research has been conducted with and for the Beaver (Dane-zaa) of British Columbia, yet the existence of different, distinct groups of Beaver people in Alberta is rarely (if ever) mentioned. This work centres the descendants of the Tsattine (Tsa-Dene) group formerly known as the ‘Beaver Indians of Dunvegan’ or ‘the River People,’ whose traditional territory includes (but is not limited to) areas around Dunvegan, Fairview, Peace River, and Grande Prairie, Alberta. Tsattine River People had their early-20th century reserves illegally ‘surrendered’ to the government and/or occupied by outsiders, leaving their descendants with no reserve or First Nation representation, and therefore no voice within settler-Canadian systems of government. In this paper, I explain my current understanding of the post-Treaty 8 history of the Tsattine River People’s band and reserves, and how names have been used to both define and obfuscate Tsattine identities. I reflect on my role, as a settler archaeologist, in supporting the cultural resurgence of Tsattine River People.

11:00 AM - 11:20 AM: Cartographic Resurgence of Traditional Indigenous Knowledge: Re-Mapping Historical Tsattine Trails
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Lauryn Eady-Sitar - Lakehead University
  • Victoria Wanihadie - Tsattine Resurgence Society
  • Jessica Metcalfe - Lakehead University

Long before Europeans arrived, the Alberta landscape featured networks of ancient trails utilized by Indigenous peoples and animals since time immemorial. Despite archival documentation, little is remembered about these trails today. The Tsattine (Beaver River People), of the Peace Region, encounter unique challenges from ongoing colonialism including territorial displacement from both invading Europeans and incoming communities moving westward during the fur trade. This complex colonial history has nearly erased Tsattine presence and collective memory in their communities today. Our community-based project works to revitalize traditional Tsattine knowledge. ‘Counter-mapping’ is a collective approach that can incorporate Tsattine lived experiences and help visually emphasize their presence on the land, while incorporating traditionally-important Indigenous name-places, archaeological data, and narratives. This cartographic research will help to decolonize the settler-dominated perspectives inscribed on Albertan maps utilized today and is a crucial step for the revitalization of traditional Indigenous knowledge. Our collaborative, landscape-based approaches will support Tsattine in making cultural connections to memory, identity, and history of the past. Making data produced from this study readily available for the Tsattine, especially their youth, will contribute to community healing, empowerment, and help to support Indigenous sovereignty within their traditional lands. 


11:20 AM - 11:40 AM: Teaching Archaeology in the Settler Colonial Context: Unpacking ongoing systemic racism within archaeology and heritage protection frameworks
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Sarah Proulx - University of Toronto
  • Griffin Assance-Goulais - University of Toronto
  • Alicia Hawkins - University of Toronto

Most archaeological practice in Canada is undertaken in the context of cultural resource management. Universities play a significant role in preparing archaeologists for employment within this sector. Archaeological curriculum that focuses on field methods and cultural historical frameworks are not preparing archaeologists with the type of knowledge required to successfully work alongside Indigenous Peoples in the field, particularly in the context of compliance driven archaeology. We discuss findings of a research project that asked Indigenous archaeological monitors in Ontario what field archaeologists should be educated in before undertaking archaeology on Indigenous territories and ancestral lands. Interviews illuminated the need for archaeologists to have an academic background in broader subjects that concern contemporary Indigenous Peoples, including settler colonialism; Indigenous histories and worldviews; stewardship responsibilities; Indigenous research methodology; and the implications of settler colonial heritage management frameworks. Of particular importance within this field of applied archaeology, is how archaeological protection legislation, mandated and regulated by the province, undermines Indigenous sovereignty. Professionals entering the archaeological consulting industry must come to the field with both the background knowledge and willingness to challenge ongoing systemic racism and oppression within the planning and development sector.  

11:40 AM - 12:00 PM: Heritage in Their Hands: Navigating Power and Possibilities for Inuvialuit Data Sovereignty in the Northwest Territories
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Emily Henry - Western University

In archaeological work, it can be said that those who control the remains of cultural heritage in the present and how it is defined, preserved, accessed, and presented have a hand of power over the past, and, thus, over the future. For decades, Indigenous communities have asserted their rights to govern themselves. More recently, attention has increasingly focused on Indigenous sovereign rights to control and manage their knowledges, cultures, and histories. To move towards Indigenous data sovereignty, my research critically analyzes Inuvialuit heritage data governance structures by examining the existing approaches to managing Inuvialuit heritage data and the perspectives of diverse actors involved in this process. This paper explores intersections of legislation, policy, and practice within the Northwest Territories as they relate to Inuvialuit heritage. How do governance frameworks support or undermine Inuvialuit data sovereignty? What opportunities and challenges exist for implementing changes to support Inuvialuit data sovereignty? Specifically, I will outline how the staff at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center work creatively within the bounds of their legal responsibilities to the colonial government in an attempt to fulfil their ethical obligations to the NWT’s Indigenous populations, including the Inuvialuit, as they wait for more transformative change.

01:20 PM - 01:40 PM: Enacting Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Pathways to Implementing UNDRIP in Canadian Archaeology
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Lindsay Montgomery - University of Toronto

In 2020, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) received Royal Assent within Canada’s parliament, compelling the Trudeau government to address systemic racism and historic injustices in consultation with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. UNDRIP, and particularly Article 13 (the right to control, protect, and develop cultural heritage including biocultural remains) has important implications for the practice of cultural heritage management across the country. Article 13, position Indigenous peoples as the primary rights holders over archaeological sites and cultural landscapes as well as the traditional knowledge associated with these places. Despite growing discourse around data sovereignty and Indigenous human rights, there remains a significant gap between the spirit of UNDRIP and the operationalization of these principles within ongoing settler colonial contexts, like Canada. Through an examination of archaeological database structures and licensing practices in Ontario, this paper considers how institutional practices within cultural heritage management currently constrain the implementation of UNDRIP and associated principles of Indigenous data sovereignty. In drawing attention to current archival protocols and ministerial policies, I hope to identify pathways through which archaeologists working in Canada as well as more globally might actualize the principles of UNDRIP both in spirit and in practice.   

01:40 PM - 02:00 PM: Understanding Indigenous Data Governance through First Nations Research Governance Strategies for Archaeology and Digital Heritage in the Canadian Context
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Rebecca Bourgeois - University of Alberta
  • Neha Gupta - University of British Columbia Okanagan

Principles of Indigenous data governance such as OCAPⓇ and CARE center the rights of Indigenous Peoples in terms of controlling their data and cultural heritage. In this context, Indigenous nations have developed research governance laws and policies regarding the management, sharing, and curation of Indigenous data and cultural heritage. However, these structures have not been implemented in professional action, creating a practical disconnect between the expectations of Indigenous Peoples and heritage professionals. In this presentation, we will show this disconnection through a critical examination of Indigenous cultural heritage policy documents that outline and describe Indigenous expectations when it comes to research data and Canadian heritage legislation. We discuss current mechanisms such as co-management in light of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to fully control their heritage as affirmed in UNDRIP (2007). Specifically, we build on the work of Carroll et al. (2019), which sets out specific actions for Indigenous communities as well as western institutions to activate Indigenous data sovereignty and governance, to evaluate how Canadian institutions are responding to these calls for action. We argue that while mechanisms such as co-management in archaeology encourage conversations about Indigenous data, they do not explicitly facilitate Indigenous data sovereignty and governance of heritage.

02:00 PM - 02:20 PM: Inuvialuit Sivuniksait Kappiangaqiyuaq. The Urgent Question of Inuvialuit Futures and its relation to the care of ancestors and their belongings
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Natasha Lyons - Ursus Heritage Consulting
  • Lisa Hodgetts - University of Western Ontario
  • Letitia  Pokiak - Inuvialuit scholar and beneficiary

The Inuvialuit of the Canadian Western Arctic signed a land claim with the Government of Canada in 1984 as a coordinated community response to the threat of mounting social and environmental pressures to their/our territory, and particularly oil and gas exploration. The Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA), considered then as now a living document, focused on the need to ensure continuing sustenance and food security through provisions for the viability of wildlife, plants, lands and waters. A heritage, culture and language chapter was not part of the original agreement; its development is part of ongoing self-government negotiations. Forty years after the signing of the IFA, and within the context of rampant effects of the climate crisis, this paper explores aspects of Inuvialuit Sivuniksait Kappiangaqiyuaq, the urgent question of Inuvialuit futures in relation to the care of ancestors and their/our artifacts/belongings. Drawing on Inuvialuit leadership’s guiding principles and heritage priorities, we offer a model of heritage policy development based on customary principles of governance and caretaking shared by Inuvialuit Elders and knowledge-holders of the past and present. This work seeks to support the efforts of Inuvialuit to reclaim sovereignty over all aspects of their/our cultural heritage.

02:20 PM - 02:40 PM: A Case Study of Stó:lō Indigenous Rights and Regulatory Processes in the Field of Heritage Stewardship: the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in S’ólh Téméxw
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • David Schaepe - Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Centre

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) is a major pipeline project that runs from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia with a route that traverses S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō Traditional Lands) – the lower Fraser River Watershed in southwestern B.C. Prior to the introduction of UNDRIP, the Stó:lō Nation leadership adopted the Stó:lō Heritage Policy and associated Heritage Investigation Permitting system which applies within S’ólh Téméxw and has been implemented in its current form since 2003. In this presentation I focus on the impact of this Indigenous regulatory system as it was applied to the heritage and archaeological processes of TMEP’s planning and construction.  I focus particularly on the impact of the Stó:lō Heritage Policy during the final three years of pipeline construction as administered through a collective of Stó:lō rights holders – the 17 First Nation members of the S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance.  This occupation of the field of heritage stewardship lead to the avoidance of dozens of heritage sites and the establishment of archaeological standards, cultural protocols, spiritual guidance, mitigation measures, curation procedures and redress for sites that were unavoidably impacted by this major pipeline project – through the assertion of Indigenous right-holders as heritage stewards and regulators.

02:40 PM - 03:00 PM: Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq Archaeology on Prince Edward Island
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Helen Kristmanson - Senior Archaeologist, L'nuey

As the indigenous people of Epekwitk, or Prince Edward Island, the Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq have an inherent interest in archaeology. For decades they have initiated or participated in local archaeological activities and provided support to various archaeological projects. With the recent establishment of an archaeology division in L’nuey, the Mi’kmaw rights initiative under the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, the Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq have considerably strengthened their own archaeological capacity. This development is part of a much broader journey and represents decades of hard work and commitment by the Mi’kmaq Epekwitnewaq Kapmntemuow (Mi’kmaw Nation Government of PEI), the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI, and most recently, L’nuey. This paper traces that journey and shows how the Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq are, through formal mechanisms with the federal and provincial governments, taking an incremental and cooperative approach to the management of their archaeological affairs.

03:20 PM - 03:40 PM: How Chipewyan Prairie First Nation’s Archeological Excavation at Doltu´chogh led to the Creation of their Cultural Heritage Policy
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Ave Dersch - Chipewyan Prairie Industry Relations
  • Shaun Janvier - Chipewyan Prairie Industry Relations
  • William Wadsworth - Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta
  • Kurtis  Blaikie - Ember Archaeology

Chipewyan Prairie First Nation’s territory has witnessed the large-scale removal and destruction of cultural heritage sites in the face of rapid oil sands development. This has occurred within a regulatory context that excludes First Nations people and their knowledge from historical resources management, fails to conduct adequate monitoring of historical resources, and lacks regional heritage management plans. In this presentation we share the results of our two field seasons of archaeological excavation on Chipewyan Prairie reserve lands at Doltu´chogh. Using this as a case study, we explore the deficiencies of Alberta’s regulatory system for including First Nations in the management of historic resources and present Chipewyan Prairie’s Cultural Heritage Policy as a path forward. 

03:40 PM - 04:00 PM: Inuit Self-Determination and Nunavut’s Cultural Heritage
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Lesley R Howse - Inuit Heritage Trust
  • Aasivak Arnaquq-Baril - Inuit Heritage Trust Inc.
  • Robert Comeau - Inuit Heritage Trust

While the Government of Nunavut (GN) regulates Nunavut’s cultural heritage, Inuit Heritage Trust Inc. (IHT)., established by the Nunavut Agreement (NA) to represent Inuit interests, shares governance responsibilities. IHT’s mandate includes coordinating the community review of archaeology permit applications and reviewing Nunavut Collection research requests. However, the historical arm's length distance between IHT and researchers, along with top-down approaches and a lack of transparency, has limited Inuit oversight and contributed to misunderstandings.

To address this, IHT is actively working to reassert Inuit rights and dismantle the remnants of colonial practices ingrained in Nunavut’s heritage management. This work puts the NA in action, which states that IHT is to assume increasing responsibilities (Article 33.4.3) and is to balance the responsibilities of the GN (Article 33.2.3). This paper details our progress in implementing IHT’s Archaeology Guidelines and introduces the Digitization Strategy for the Nunavut Collection. The strategy focuses on increasing Inuit access to archaeological collections and data. It includes capacity-building opportunities for Inuit at every stage and enables the development of policies at a community level regarding the care of Inuit cultural belongings.

04:00 PM - 04:20 PM: Parallel Paths within Ontario Archaeology
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Tanya Hill-Montour - Six Nations of the Grand River

Archaeology and research in Ontario is largely carried out by cultural heritage contractors known as Consulting Archaeologists (CRM Cultural Resource Management) who fulfil the government requirements to assess archaeological resources prior to development. Indigenous community involvement in Ontario Archaeology has many challenges under current legislation and policies. Current approaches are non-collaborative, colonial, and destructive. Indigenous communities’ involvement in Archaeology is minimal and generally through roles as monitors during on-site fieldwork. Minimal engagement creates harm to Heritage resources, Indigenous knowledge and the care and control of significant sites. Archaeology must decolonize past practice by promoting collaborative Indigenous approaches that support social justice. Archaeology must go beyond seeking the permission of Indigenous communities when conducting exertion on ancestral objects and archaeology fieldwork. Creating a collaborative approach would foster a positive relationship in the development of a systematic and continuous practice that would address reconciliation. This would create autonomy, guiding a parallel path of decision making for best practices in the care and control of Ancestors and Heritage overall. Indigenous engagement during the planning stages contributes to the understanding of an archaeology project beyond the process of notification. This inclusion would promote equal justice, equal opportunity, and equal dignity for repatriation and rematriation.

04:20 PM - 04:40 PM: The After Times: Thinking About Archaeology Beyond Provincial Regulation
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Matthew A. Beaudoin - TMHC Inc.
  • Joshua Dent - TMHC Inc.
  • Holly Martelle - TMHC Inc.

The current state of CRM archaeology in Ontario offers a glimpse into what the next generation of our “industry” could become. This is a timely case study to consider the value and appropriateness of government dictated standards and guidelines, or ad hoc versions thereof, for almost every aspect of archaeological projects. We are increasingly seeing Indigenous directions and expectations being proactively incorporated into planning approval authority processes to address systemic deficiencies in the conventional provincial regulation of archaeology. Similar situations have been unfolding across the province where municipalities, Indigenous and Descendant communities are having more say in how archaeology is done, where, and why. These decisions are also happening as part of larger planning discussions between Indigenous communities, municipalities and developers. One wonders what role, if any, remains for standardized provincial oversight of archaeology, now a regulatory body that appears more disconnected than ever from the participants and practices in an archaeological endeavor increasingly driven by the intersection of Indigenous sovereignty with municipal planning.

04:40 PM - 05:00 PM: Who Has the Right to Control the Past – Genocidal Policy
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Scott Robertson - Nahwageahbow & Courbiere Genoodmagejig/Barristers & Solicitors
  • Laura Arndt - Survivors' Secretariat

Canadian and Provincial laws don’t protect and preserve remains of Indigenous ancestors, which perpetuates assimilation policy. For a century and half, Crown policies have erased sacred Indigenous ceremonies, governance structures and legal traditions.  By doing so the Crown is attempting to erase the very evidentiary basis on which Indigenous communities are required to prove their legal title to land and water. 

The survival of Indigenous nations and protection of their distinct cultures is tied to their ability to protect, preserve, and honour their past.  The Supreme Court of Canada, in Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests) [2004] ruled Aboriginal peoples were here when Europeans arrived and were never conquered.  In defining Aboriginal and Treaty rights and resolving the many outstanding claims the Crown must act honourably in preserving the evidence and proof of Indigenous people’s existence and occupancy of the lands on which they have traveled, lived and buried their ancestors since time immemorial.

Does the Crown’s assertion of the “best interest” doctrine or the “common good” supersede constitutionally protected Aboriginal and Treaty rights? How can Indigenous peoples prevent archeology and “Western science” being used to assimilate and invalidate Indigenous people’s history?

05:00 PM - 05:20 PM: Working Together to Protect Ancestors
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Katherine Nichols - Simon Fraser University and Sioux Valley Dakota Nation
  • Maegan Courchene - Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc.

The repatriation and protection of Ancestors, their belongings and sacred sites is a critical issue for Indigenous communities. Currently, a patchwork of provincial guidelines, policies and legislation exist that do not fully recognize Indigenous sovereignty. Through a partnership between Wipazoka Wakpa (Sioux Valley Dakota Nation) and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) to locate missing children at the Brandon Residential School, an urgent need was identified to safeguard sacred sites and unmarked graves located on private lands. To address this ongoing issue, Wipazoka Wakpa and MKO hosted the Protecting Our Ancestors Conference which brought together Indigenous voices from Canada, USA, and New Zealand, as well as museum, policy, and law experts. The aim of this conference was to begin discussing the development of an Indigenous-led law similar to the USA Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). This presentation will share the complex challenges related to repatriation and protection of Ancestors in Manitoba, navigate the legal and cultural landscape surrounding NAGPRA and highlight community perspectives on these issues. Through sharing knowledge and innovative approaches, this conference was a pivotal moment, serving as a call to action to continue preserving the memory of the Ancestors, ensuring their stories are never forgotten.