Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ethnoarchaeology of the Middle Tanana Valley, Alaska
by Smith, Gerad M., Ph.D., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2020, 501; 28151478
Abstract (Summary)

This study explores the shifting anthropological constructs of identity for the Middle Tanana people through time. It first summarizes this theme through contemporary regional Native American internal and external influences. A discussion is then given on how these constructs became formed through historical processes. Next, it provides an in-depth look into how identity became shaped prior to the Euro-American influence through an ethnographic reconstruction. These are framed in a way to form relevant hypotheses to study the regional prehistoric archaeological record. The Historical Linguistics analytical approach used here confirms that there is very little, if any, evidence in the languages of the Tanana Valley from any non-Dene or other hypothetical pre-existing linguistic group. Language forms an integral unit of community identity. This study also frames the linguistic argument for deep regional cultural antiquity and identity through an extensive survey of traditional place names. A brief comparative study of the processes and effects of the incursion of the Indo-European languages into traditional Dene territory is discussed to demonstrate this argument. Next, the research explores the middle and later Holocene archaeological record of the Shaw Creek basin, located deep within the Middle Tanana homelands, using innovative approaches framing traditional Optimal Foraging theory arguments through the lens of Complexity theory. It focuses on the household archaeology and spatial artifact analysis of two archaeological sites, Swan Point (three Holocene components) and Pickupsticks (one Holocene component). In these case studies, cultural identity analogs, social structure, and agency are discussed using the material cultural record as a proxy. Finally, a dynamic, seasonal, ecological landscape-use model informed by predator/prey interactions is used to inform hypothetical human foraging movements. It models decision-making and risk-mitigation processes through resource shortfalls, predicting raw materials' movements from their source locations to their discard locations at these two archaeological sites. The conclusions support the theory that Dene presence in the Middle Tanana Valley is an ancient phenomenon that has at least early Holocene roots. Further, the period between 2,000 and 1,000 years ago appears to have been a critical period of additional cultural intensification processes. The processes leading to the development of the Athabascan archaeological tradition are considered to be the result of demographic expansion, increased territoriality, and a critical reinterpretation of the roles of kinship and non-related partnerships.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Reuther, Joshua
Commitee: Kari, James, Holmes, Charles, Hanson, Diane
School: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Alaska
Source: DAI-A 82/6(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Archaeology, European history, Ancient languages, Native American studies, American history, Cultural anthropology
Keywords: Behavioral ecology, Complexity theory, Historical linguistics, Household archaeology, Social complexity, Subarctic archaeology, Alaska, Holocene, Middle Tanana people, Euro-American influence
Publication Number: 28151478
ISBN: 9798698595465
Copyright © 2021 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy Cookie Policy
ProQuest