Covering Bones: The Archaeology of Respect on the Kazan River, Nunavut

Author(s): Max Friesen; Andrew Stewart

Year: 2017


Complex relationships between people and animals define life in the northern past. For Inuit these relationships are manifested in many ways; particularly in practices that are often described as "showing respect" for animals, thus promoting stable relations between animal and human societies. Frustratingly, many of these activities, which are so prominent in the ethnographic record, have few archaeological correlates. Here, we examine one important practice with a relatively high level of archaeological visibility: the concealment of caribou bones under stones and in other inaccessible areas, thereby protecting them from dogs and other disturbances which could offend the caribou’s inua. We examine this phenomenon at several important caribou crossings and elsewhere at inland Inuit archaeological sites on the Kazan River, southwest Nunavut, where we have mapped hundreds of features and collected bones from some of them. This research was performed in collaboration with Baker Lake community members who have direct knowledge of these localities, including aspects of bone disposal. Together, these studies reveal a cultural landscape in which the human-caribou relationship is omnipresent not just in terms of features relating to hunting and storage, but also with regard to the spiritual connection between these two interdependent categories of being.

Cite this Record

Covering Bones: The Archaeology of Respect on the Kazan River, Nunavut. Max Friesen, Andrew Stewart. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429587)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -178.41; min lat: 62.104 ; max long: 178.77; max lat: 83.52 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14411