Great Lakes Enclosures and Un-silencing the Midewiwin Ceremonial Complex

Author(s): Meghan Howey

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Silenced Rituals in Indigenous North American Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The Midewiwin is a ceremonial complex whose importance among the Algonquin-speaking peoples of the Great Lakes Region was noted frequently throughout the historical era. Various scholars have interpreted this ceremonial complex as an exclusively post-contact phenomenon, as a medicine society that evolved in relation to European-introduced diseases. This interpretation relies on a Euro-centric understanding of the indigenous concept of "medicine" resulting, then, in the silencing of the socio-spatial breadth and temporal depth of this indigenous ritual system. Various lines of archaeological evidence indicate a precontact origin to the Midewiwin. One such line of evidence comes from the circular enclosures indigenous communities built across the Great Lakes during Late Precontact. I have argued these enclosures embed deep and complicated social and religious histories, histories that were implaced in them. Here, I explore connections among enclosures at a large geographic scale in order to contribute to an un-silencing of the foundational, deep-time, and potentially, pan-regional significance of Midewiwin in the centuries prior to colonialism.

Cite this Record

Great Lakes Enclosures and Un-silencing the Midewiwin Ceremonial Complex. Meghan Howey. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450671)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -103.975; min lat: 36.598 ; max long: -80.42; max lat: 48.922 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24236