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“Protohistoric Practice: Trade, Kinship, and Social Status among the Sixteenth-Century Wendat in Southern Ontario” by Alexandra O. Conell

May 9, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Join us as Alexandra O. Conell defends her dissertation proposal, “Protohistoric Practice: Trade, Kinship, and Social Status among the Sixteenth-Century Wendat in Southern Ontario” on Wednesday, May 9th, 2018 in 454 Baker Hall from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.

The proposed research seeks to test Trigger’s (1976) conclusions that the Protohistoric period was not characterized by significant social changes at the intra-village level. One of the most consistently noted inter-village changes during the Protohistoric period is a dramatic increase in indigenous interaction throughout northeastern North America, including increased exchange of goods, increased migration of peoples, and increased sharing of stylistic variation. However, since much of the recent research on the Protohistoric period of the Great Lakes region focuses on the means of entrance of European trade goods into Protohistoric villages or on the modification of the forms of these goods upon their acquisition, the proposed research seeks to move beyond the acquisition and form of the Protohistoric trade goods themselves by undertaking an intra-village level analysis comparing a late Late Prehistoric Wendat village to a Late Protohistoric Wendat village to examine the everyday experience of the individuals who lived there.

Within a framework of practice theory, then, the proposed research seeks to address the following overarching research question: Did the increased interaction, exchange, and population movements of the Protohistoric period in the Great Lakes region significantly change the social organization of Wendat villages? This research question will be addressed in two phases, first at the intra-village level and then at the inter-village level, by comparing the archaeological evidence at the late Late Prehistoric Mantle Site (AlGt-334, A.D. 1500-1530) to archaeological evidence at the Late Protohistoric Molson Site (BcGw-27, A.D. 1580-1600) in Ontario. In doing so, it will examine the following aspects of Wendat social organization: the expansion of trade relationships, a redefinition of extended family relationships, and alterations in the nature of social status differentials. One strength of this research lies in its in-depth approach to understanding Wendat social organization in detail at two particular moments in time, each representing a single generation’s daily actions, one generation just prior to the start of Protohistory and one generation just prior to contact with Europeans. This in-depth examination of a village at each point in time allows for a stronger inter-village comparison through time and a greater ability to identify changes which occurred during Protohistory.


May 9, 2018
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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454 Baker Hall

United States

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Department of Anthropology