Ethnography Lab: Rebecca Gray

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Date(s) - 13/11/2015
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

AP 330


Friday, November 13, 2015

Rebecca Gray (Anthropology MSc Student)
Tłı̨chǫ Ethnography and Oral Tradition: Ethnoarchaeology in Subarctic Canada
Ethnography Lab, 5:00-6:00pm, AP 330. Further info here.

In June 2015 I travelled to the community of Behchokǫ, NWT in order to interview Tłı̨chǫ elders, members of the Dene first nation, as a part of my Masters of Science thesis. My project explores Tłı̨chǫ history from an indigenous perspective through archaeological analysis and community-based ethnographic research, an approach referred to as “ethnoarchaeology”. I spoke with the elders about an area of traditional land use called Ezodzidi (The Refuge), located in Grandin River. Ezǫdzı̀tı is a vitally important part of Tłı̨chǫ heritage, where a Tłı̨chǫ leader named Edzo helped to revitalize the struggling Tłı̨chǫ nation during the early fur trade period. The area was protected under the Tłı̨chǫ land claim agreement and has been unvisited until recently by archaeologists.

My purpose was to help collect oral histories about Ezǫdzı̀tı which would later enrich the results of my archaeological fieldwork and analysis in the region. During my first experience conducting ethnographic fieldwork I had the opportunities to work with both a translator and interpreter, develop and utilize maps as an interview tool, participate in community activities and traditional practices, access archival ethnographic material, and apply my experiences to subsequent archaeological fieldwork. I also encountered challenges associated with speaking to monolingual speakers in a context in which there is a colonial precedent to research and knowledgeable elders are rapidly passing away. The results of my ethnographic and archeological research will become records for the community and for future generations of Tłı̨chǫ.

Rebecca Gray is a 2nd year MSc. archaeology student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Her research incorporates both ethnographic and archaeological methods to explore the experiences of the Tłıc̨ hǫ Dene First Nation during the fur trade in the Northwest Territories, Canada. She hopes to continue to collaborate with First Nations communities in the subarctic on archaeological and traditional knowledge projects.