Lithic technology during the fur trade period at housepit 54

Anna Marie Prentiss, Kelly French, Sara Hocking, Matthew Mattes, Matthew J. Walsh, Mary Bobbitt, Kristen D. Barnett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Lithic Technology during the Fur Trade Period at Housepit 54 Anna Marie Prentiss, Kelly French, Sara Hocking, Matthew Mattes, Matthew J. Walsh, Mary Bobbitt, and Kristen D. Barnett While the study of lithic technology has been very prominent in Middle Fraser Canyon archaeology (Hayden et al. 1996, 2000; Prentiss 2000; Prentiss and Clarke 2008; Prentiss et al. 2015; Rousseau 1992), little explicit research has focused on stone tool production and use from the Colonial period despite wide recognition that stone tools were made and used at least into the early Gold Rush period of 1858 (Alexander 2000; Hayden et al. 1996; Teit 1900, 1906). Ethnographer James Teit (1900, 1906) provides remarkably detailed descriptions of many tool forms from this period. Excavation of the Fur Trade period floor and roof of Housepit 54 has for the first time provided extensive archaeological data on stone tool technology from the earlyto mid-nineteenth century. It is even conceivable that Teit’s (1900, 1906) St’át’imc informants had lived there— ​ or at least knew of its occupants. Access to such an excellent assemblage of materials provides the ideal opportunity not only to document traditional stone technology during this critical time period, but also to draw from the lithic technology data to further our under standing of household economic decision making, ritual behavior, and the effects of the fur trade economy on an indigenous household. We begin with a brief review of the literature on lithic technology in Colonial contexts. We then examine recent research into Mid- Fraser lithic technology with a particular focus on models of lithic technological organization developed by Brian Hayden and colleagues. Next we provide a descriptive and interpretive overview of the lithic artifacts from the Fur Trade period occupation at Housepit 54. Finally, we consider a range of implications regarding persistence of ancient traditions and the effects of the fur trade. Archaeology of Stone Tool Production in the Colonial Period of North America It is well known that traditional lithic technology persisted well into the Colonial period in many parts of the Americas. In the Southeast, Mississippian groups had long favored a combination of core and flake and biface reduction strategies in sedentary farming villages (Parry and Kelly 1987). These technologies continued during colonial times as groups negotiated relationships with newcomers (Cobb and Ruggiero 2003), but they were also modified to fit local demands— ​ for example, those associated with participation in new exchange networks calling for furs and other animal products (Johnson 1997, 2003). Plains village societies found themselves in the center of both more ancient networks as well as European- associated networks centered on bison products and the movement of goods from both the Atlantic and Pacific contexts (Hudson 1993; Mitchell 2013; Odell 2003; O’Shea and Ludwickson 1992; Rogers 1990). Organization of tool production in these contexts was impacted by raw material constraints and activity demands 68 ANNA MARIE PRENTISS ET AL. (Holen 1991), specialized production demands (Mitchell 2013), and in some villages, household status (Mitchell 2013). California groups continued chipped stone tool production in response to demand for trade goods (Gamble 2008) and as resistance to Spanish and Russian incursions (Lightfoot 2005; Lightfoot et al. 1993, 1998; Silli man 2003). Pacific Northwest Coast groups adopted European technologies selectively while maintaining many traditional stone tools (Prince 2003). People of the Pacific Northwest Plateau were also highly selective regarding the use of European goods, thus maintaining many ancient technologies despite an expanding Euro- Canadian fur trade (Carlson 2000, 2006). By the time of European incursions into the western Arctic, Eskimo/Inuit groups had largely adopted ground slate technology over chipped stone (Ford 1959; Frink 2005). However, there was apparently significant variation involving elements of chipped stone technology, as demonstrated by Cassell (2003, 2005) and Friesen (2013) in camps associated with European and American whalers. The question of technological transitions in colonial contexts has long been of interest to anthropologists (Spicer 1964) and somewhat more recently to archaeologists (Kaplan 1985). The study of technological changes in this context has transitioned from the topic of “acculturation” (Cusick 1998) to investigation of resistance (Lightfoot 2005) and persistence (Panich 2013). Simultaneously, archaeologists have become aware that their interpretations of the Colonial period archaeological record have direct impacts on descendant communities (Lightfoot et al. 2013). Several hypotheses have been offered concerning decisions by indigenous groups regarding organization of stone tool production and use in reference to entanglements with colonial powers. While there has been a sharp rebuttal against simple concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Last House at Bridge River
Subtitle of host publicationThe Archaeology of an Aboriginal Household in British Columbia during the Fur Trade
PublisherUniversity of Utah
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781607815440
ISBN (Print)9781607815433
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Lithic technology during the fur trade period at housepit 54'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this