Friday, August 14, 2015

From Mesa to Monte Verde


   Michael Kunz, BLM/Arctic Field Office
   Tony Baker, Denver Colorado
   Presented at the Alaska Athropological Association
   38th Annual Meeting
   Fairbanks, March 9-12 2011
   (Link)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I Forgot to Remember to Forget

Tony Baker    
March 25, 2009
(Link)

"In 1955 Elvis Presley recorded I Forgot to Remember to Forget and in February of 1956 it became his first number one record. How many baby boomers remember this? In 1957, Marie Wormington wrote in her famous Ancient Man in North America that non-fluted points (Figure 1) were found with extinct Pleistocene mammoths in Mexico (p.97). How many readers remember this?

"Archaeologists, like individuals of other disciplines, have a tendency to forget facts that don't fit their understanding of the world. Now they don't really forget them, they just fail to remember them in their writings and presentations. I believe they do this to present a clean and concise explanation. On the other hand, if they presented all of the contradictory information associated with their explanation, it would appear as conjecture instead of a solid theory. The peopling of the New World has also suffered from this forgetfulness and so this paper has the purpose of remembering some of the forgotten facts.

(read more)



     
                                                  Fluted Clovis Points (13,300 - 12,900 cal. BP)
El Jobo, Monte Verde (14,800 - 13,800 cal. BP)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Horse and camel hunting by prehistoric humans in North America

Vol. 18 Spring 2015
Popular Archaeology
(Link)

New dates for horse and camel butchering sites in Canada  [St. Mary's reservoir on the edge of the Blackfoot Kainai (Blood) Reserve, Alberta] push the clock back [on Clovis].

Map of North America showing stages of Ice Age retreat with associated ages. Wally's Beach, as an active site, would have been located within the 12 - 15 ka region on the map. (T. Kostolany, Wikimedia Commons)

Advanced radiocarbon dating techniques have revealed that a prehistoric kill and butchering site attributed to the Clovis People was active approximately 300 years earlier than previously dated. Animal remains butchered with stone tools near Wally’s Beach, Alberta, Canada, currently represent evidence that prehistoric humans hunted now-extinct horse and camel species near the end of the last Ice Age. The site contains the only known evidence to date for horse and camel hunting in the Americas during that time period.

As documented in a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences*, Michael Waters of Texas A&M University and colleagues from two other institutions re-dated the remains using advanced sample purification techniques. The remains were previously dated to around 13,000 years ago and ascribed to the Clovis People. The authors produced 27 new radiocarbon ages that suggest that Wally’s Beach was active around 13,300 years ago, approximately 300 years before the generally accepted earliest date range for the Clovis culture. The new timeframe, the authors report, allows the Canadian site to be examined in the context of human hunting and the well-documented extinction of numerous large mammal species near the end of the last Ice Age. Added to other North American sites that demonstrate mammoth, mastodon, sloth, and gomphothere hunting, Wally’s Beach suggests that prehistoric humans hunted six of the 36 now-extinct genera of large mammals for at least 2,000 years before the animals vanished from the North American landscape around 12,700 years ago, according to the authors.*

*Article #14-20650: “Late Pleistocene horse and camel hunting at the southern margin of the ice-free corridor: Reassessing the age of Wally’s Beach, Canada,” by Michael R. Waters, Thomas W. Stafford, Jr., Brian Kooyman, and L. V. Hills.
 
Source: Adapted and edited from the PNAS press release, Large mammals hunted by prehistoric humans

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sewell Wright: The Initiation of Agriculture

Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Volume 4: Variability Within and Variability Within and Among Natural Populations
Sewall Wright
1978
(Link)

[blog comment

Sewall Wright is considered to be a founder of the field of population genetics.  If you've been following my blog, you can probably guess that I don't think anything terribly significant happened, from a human evolutionary perspective, in the last thirty thousand years [probably more].  Wright was wrong about agriculture serving as a measure of peak genetic intelligence. Wright couldn't have known about the detailed timeline of megafauna extinctions that happened at the end of the Pleistocene which obviated the need for full scale domestication of animals and plants.  Still, he could have looked into the culture of hunter gatherer societies, especially the Algonquian and Siouan speaking peoples of Massachusetts, Illinois and Wisconsin, where he had lived.  He surely didn't bother to do this and instead, rambled off authoritatively about something he knew nothing about.  I cringe when I read this.  In fact, many Native American groups had managed to live in concert with their natural environment for thousands of years, and had not exterminated the animals on which they depended to the same degree as Eurasians. Surely this must be a measure of intelligence. 

It's also clear from Wright's comments that he knew nothing about the broader picture of agriculture in Africa, and confined his comments to the African northeast 'corner'.

These kinds of dogmatic statements still permeate many academic genetic anthropology, linguistic and population genetics discussions. 

My view:  apart from a few alleles like lactase persistence, there is no evidence that agriculture made us happier, smarter, or healthier.]

page 456:

"The initiation of agriculture and livestock breeding was a revolutionary advance from the hunting and gathering way of life, which could hardly occur until the genetic basis of intelligence had reached an advanced grade.  It is fair to assume that the regions in which these appeared first were at the peaks in the genetic basis for intelligence.  This implies a peak at southwest Asia at least 10,000 years ago, and presumably long before this, and peaks in China and Middle America where agriculture developed later but largely independently.  The genetic and cultural advance in each of these regions was not, however, restricted to a single people.  Neighboring people had presumably stepped each other up genetically and culturally by the analogous shifting balance processes and continued to do so thereafter.  Livestock breeding, however, could be practiced to advantage in semi-dessert grasslands not suitable for agriculture, by nomadic peoples in whom different genetically based traits would be favored by selection from those favored among settled farmers and inhabitants of the cities.  All peoples in Southwest Asia and the northeast corner of Africa presumably had high but somewhat diverse genetic capabilities and soon acquired relatively advanced but diverse cultures."

[blog note:  Here, Wright makes a bizarre switch from a general discussion about the transition to agriculture, to a discussion about Indo-European languages, clearly, by association, attempting to equate Indo-European languages with "peak genetic intelligence." ]

"Linguistic evidence indicates the establishment of an important center of diffusion in east-central Europe some 5,000 years ago from which wave after wave of peoples moved in all directions.  The Hittites carried an Indo-European language of the western (centum) type into Asia Minor and established an empire 4,000 years ago.  A thousand years later the Iranians, who had moved east into what is now Southern Russia and Turkestan, brought an Indo-European language of the eastern (satem) type into the original cultural center and later established the Persian Empire.  They also carried another Aryan dialect to India.  Other tribes moving south from the east central European center reached Greece in several waves which, after mixing with the indigenous people, produced classical Greek civilization."

[There you have it.] 

[For an alternative view:  The Oxford Handbook of Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers, Part VII:  Future Directions in Hunter-Gatherer Research, Vicki Cummings, Peter Jordan, and Marek Zvelebil, editors, Oxford University Press, 2014.]

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Mi'kmaq Nation - A Story of Survival


Statistics for Eight Holocene-Aged American Ancient DNA Samples

Raghavan et al.
Science
July 21, 2015
(Link)

Supplementary Material

"Fig. S13. Heat maps plotting outgroup f3 statistics of the form f3(X, Ancient; Yoruba) for Anzick-1 and seven Holocene-aged samples from the Americas using a SNP chip genotype dataset consisting of worldwide populations (Section S1). This analysis is complementary to the results presented in main text Fig. 4, with the difference between the two stemming from slightly different ancestry painting and masking methods. The plots in the main text are based on masking ‘Method 1’ while the following results are based on ‘Method 2’ (see Section S5). Overall, we find similar results from the two methods relating to the ancestry of these ancient samples and the early genetic diversification patterns amongst Native American ancestors."
 
Anzick-1 [Rasmussen et al 2014]
10,705 ± 35 14C years BP (approximately 12,707–12,556 calendar years BP)
mtDNA D4h3, Y-chromosome Q1a2* [ISOGG], Q1a3* [Karafet et al]


Kennewick [Rasmussen et al 2015]
8,340–9,200 calibrated years before present (BP)
mtDNA X2a, Y-chromosome Q-M3 [Rasmussen et al.]
 
MARC1492 [this paper]
Listuguj Mi’kmaq
400 years BP
mtDNA A2+(64)
 
939, Lucy Islands, West Coast British Columbia [this paper]
Measured collagen based radiocarbon age of 5710±40 BP was obtained for 939 (Beta-317343). Conventional age of 5930±40 BP was also reported by Beta Analytic Inc.  Correlated two-sigma age range:  6260-5890 cal. BP.
mtDNA D4h3a7
 
Enoque65 [this paper]
Serra da Capivara, Piaui, Brazil
~ 3500 cal BP
mtDNA A2e
 
Chinchorro mummies [this paper]
Arica, Chile
~5800 cal BP
mtDNA A2

Pericúes, Las Palmas Culture [this paper]
Piedra Gorda, Baja California, Mexico
800-300 years BP
mtDNA CZ

MA577, Selknam (Ona) Culture
Emperaire (1946-1949) and Rousson & Willems mission collections,
Musée de l´Homme in Paris, France.
Isla Grande, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia
mtDNA D1g5
 
 
Map (ancient DNA sample locations shown in cyan blue)
 
 
mtDNA evolutionary tree

 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Saturday, August 8, 2015

John Noel, Mi'kmaq Chief (1829-1911)

























John Noel, (1829-1911), chief of the Indians of Halifax, Lunenburg, Hants, Kings, Colchester, and Cumberland Counties, Nova Scotia. Dressed in typical Micmac ornamented coat, with red sash; and with round silver medal presented to Micmac chief by George III

Mi'kmaq Portraits Collection of the Nova Scotia Museum (Link)

Biography of John Noel's adoptive father Chief Peminuit Paul (Link)

Micmac Woman, 1865

Micmac Woman, unknown artist (1865) at the New Brunswick Museum

Mi'gmaq Ideograms

About Mi'kmaw(Mi'gmaq) 'Hieroglyphics'
Muin'iskw (Jean), Crowfeather (Dan)
Mi'kmaw Spirit Webpage
(Link)

In 1652, Father Gabriel Druillettes, a Jesuit missionary to the Abenaki, reports seeing the Mi'kmaq use ideograms to record lessons in the "Jesuit Relations" of that year:

"Some of them wrote out their lessons in their own manner. They made use of a small piece of charcoal instead of a pen, and a piece of bark instead of paper. Their characters are novel, and so individual that one could not know or understand the writing of the other; that is to say, that they made use of certain marks according to their own ideas as of a local memory to preserve the points and the articles and the maxims which they had remembered. They carried away this paper with them to study in the repose of the night."

(read more)

MARC1492 from Mi'gmaq PrehistoricTjigog

Raghavan et al.
Science
July 21, 2015
(Link)

Supplementary Material

MARC1492


Old Mission Point (ClDq-1) is located on the banks of the Restigouche River, near the town of Atholville in northern New Brunswick, Canada (Fig. S1). The site represents the prehistoric village of Tjigog, the place of summer aggregation for the northern Mi’gmaq (80-83). Rediscovered in 1968 by Martijn’s (84) archaeological surveys of Gloucester and Restigouche counties, the site was only excavated in 1972 and 1973 by Turnbull (85, 86) after construction workers unearthed human remains in a nearby gravel pit. The discovery of the burials left the skeletal assemblage badly commingled and fragmented, however, Turnbull’s (85) report features several photographs of in situ graves representing both primary and secondary internments, specifically in the form of bundle burials (see 87 and 88 for bundle burial descriptions). Artifacts recovered from the burials include a toggling harpoon head, worked bone, copper tube and shell beads, an axe head, rare pieces of cordage and braided plant-fibre textile, as well as remnants of beaver fur and birch bark (86, 88). Turnbull’s excavations also uncovered possible domestic architecture near the burial area in the form of post moulds, as well as over a thousand ceramic sherds featuring punctate, dentate-stamped, and pseudo-scallop shell designs (85). A single charcoal sample taken from a hearth feature associated with the ceramic finds gave an uncalibrated radiocarbon date of 2030±130 BP (RL-343) (89). With permission from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq community, the human remains recovered from the site underwent bioarchaeological assessment beginning in 2011 at Memorial University, where it was determined that at least 5 adults and 9 juvenile individuals (MNI=14) were included within the skeletal assemblage. Samples from a loose tooth (right mandibular first premolar (RPM1) - MARC1492) associated with a middle adult female individual (Skeleton #4) within the Old Mission Point assemblage were taken for ancient DNA analysis. The mandible of this individual in question was well-preserved unlike many of the skeletal elements found elsewhere in the assemblage, however, the in situ right first, second, and third molars (RM1, RM2, RM3) all feature a great deal of occlusal dental wear. The only remaining left molar (LM3) does not feature occlusal wear to the same extent. It is surmised that this female individual preferentially chewed on the right side of the mandible, the reason for which may be explained by the presence of a moderately healed periapical abscess located in the area of the left mandibular first and second molars (LM1, LM2) resulting in antemortem tooth loss. Uncalibrated radiocarbon AMS dates obtained on ultrafiltered bone collagen from the right femorii of 4 of the adult skeletons, (UCIAMS-125912, UCIAMS-107245, UCIAMS-107246: Skeleton #4, UCIAMS-107247) as well as the lower extremities of 4 of the juvenile skeletons (UCIAMS-125908, UCIAMS-125909, UCIAMS-125910, UCIAMS-125911) ranged from 2405-415 BP. This time range overlaps with the previous uncalibrated charcoal radiocarbon date (89), and along with the ceramic finds, suggests that Mi’gmaq individuals were living and being buried in the area as long ago as the early Middle Woodland period (ca. 2150-1650 BP) and up and until the Late Woodland (ca. 650-400 BP) or Early Historic (ca. 400-250 BP) periods (90). These findings lend support to the idea that Old Mission Point represents the oldest known long-term use Mi’gmaq cemetery in the Canadian Maritimes region to-date (88). The sampled individual was dated to ~400 BP after correcting for marine reservoir effect. (Table S2).

DNA extraction: All laboratory procedures including pre-treatment, extraction, library construction and PCR set-ups were carried out in ancient DNA facilities at the Centre for GeoGenetics (Copenhagen). Fine drill heads were used with a Dremel drill operated on low-speed setting to obtain the powdered sample. The tooth was drilled by cutting off the end of the roots and drilling into the pulp chamber with special dental drill heads, thereby collecting ~50 mg of powder. The collected powder were digested overnight at 55°C in 1ml of a buffer consisting of 1 M urea, 0.5 M EDTA and 0.3 mg/ml Proteinase K (modified from 91). Following digestion, the supernatant was concentrated using a 30 kDa centrifugal filter unit down to 100-200 μl and purified through a Qiagen MinElute spin column (using Qiagen PN binding buffer) following manufacturer’s instructions. In the elution step, the column was incubated in 45 μl of Qiagen EB buffer at 37°C for 30 minutes, spun down, and re-incubated in 30 μl of EB buffer at 37°C for 15 minutes.

Library preparation and sequencing: Two blunt-end Illumina libraries were prepared using NEBNext DNA Sample Prep Master Mix Set 2 (New England Biolabs, E6070), as described in (39), with the following differences in the protocols. Ligation was performed for 15 minutes at 20°C using Illumina-specific adapters specified in (74) and the fill-in reaction was performed for 20 minutes at 37º C. The libraries were amplified as follows: 25 μl DNA library, 1X High Fidelity PCR buffer, 2 mM MgSO4, 200 μM dNTPs each (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA), 200 nM Illumina Multiplexing PCR primer inPE1.0, 4 nM Illumina Multiplexing PCR primer inPE2.0, 200 nM Illumina Index PCR primer, 1 U of Platinum Taq DNA Polymerase (High Fidelity) (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA) and water to 50 μl. Cycling conditions were: initial denaturing at 94°C for 4 minutes, 12 cycles of: 94°C for 30 seconds, 60°C for 30 seconds, 68°C for 40 seconds, and a final extension at 72°C for 7 minutes. PCR products were purified through Qiagen MinElute spin columns and eluted in 10 μl of Qiagen Buffer EB, following a 10-minute incubation at 37°C. A second round of PCR (two parallel reactions for each library) was set up as follows: 5 μl of purified product from first PCR round, 1X High Fidelity PCR buffer, 2 mM MgSO4, 200 μM dNTPs each, 500 nM Illumina Multiplexing PCR primer 1.0, 10 nM Illumina Multiplexing PCR primer 2.0, 500 nM Illumina Index PCR primer, U of Platinum Taq DNA Polymerase (High Fidelity), and water to 50 μl. Cycling conditions included an initial denaturing at 94°C for 4 minutes, 10 cycles of: 94°C for 30 seconds, 60°C for 30 seconds, 68°C for 40 seconds, and a final extension at 72°C for minutes. Both PCR products originating from one library were purified through one Qiagen MinElute spin column and eluted in 20 μl of Qiagen Buffer EB, following a 10-minute incubation at 37°C. The amplified libraries were pooled in equimolar quantities, run on Agilent Bioanalyzer 2100 and thereafter sequenced on HiSeq 2000 (100 cycles, single-read) at the Danish National High-throughput DNA Sequencing Centre.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Lanterns on the Prairie

 
The Blackfeet Photographs of Walter McClintock
Steven L. Grafe (Editor)
(Link)

"Lanterns on the Prairie explores the motivations of the players in McClintock’s story and the historic context of his engagement with the Blackfeet. The photographs themselves provide an irreplaceable visual record of the Blackfeet during a pivotal period in their history."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Genomic evidence for the Pleistocene and recent population history of Native Americans

Raghavan et al.
Science
July 21, 2015
(Link)

"We explored the genetic structure of Native American populations in the context of worldwide populations using ADMIXTURE (36), employing a reference panel consisting of 3,053 individuals from 169 populations (table S3) (28). The panel included SNP chip genotype data from present-day individuals generated in this study and previously pub-lished studies, as well as the 4,000 year-old Saqqaq individ-ual from Greenland (29) and the 12,600 year-old Anzick-1 (Clovis culture) individual from Montana (5) (table S3). When assuming four ancestral populations (K=4), we found a Native American-specific genetic component, indicating a shared genetic ancestry for all Native Americans including Amerindians and Athabascans (fig. S4). Assuming K=15, there is structure within the Native Americans. Athabascans and northern Amerindians (primarily from Canada) differ from the rest of the Native Americans in sharing their own genetic component (fig. S4). As reported previously, Anzick-1 falls within the genetic variation of southern Native Americans (5), while the Saqqaq individual shares genetic components with Siberian populations (fig. S4) (29)."














Part of Fig. S4 C. shows Admixture run at K=14 for North and Central American Native Groups.  Looking closely, the figure shows that Southern Athabascans, CanAmerican 1, and Ojibwa are similar.


Add caption

















Fig. S1. Geographical locations of populations from the Americas that were analyzed in this study. See Section S1 and Tables S1, S3and S4 for further information.

 D-stats in Figure S9 also show that Southern Athabascans, CanAmerican 1, and Ojibwa group closely. 

"We applied diCal2.0 (28) (Method 1), a new version of diCal (41) extended to handle complex demographic models involving multiple populations with migration (42), and an identity-by-state (IBS) tract method (43) (Method 2) to the modern genome dataset (28). With these, we first estimated divergence times between Native Americans and the Koryak of Siberia, one of the genetically closest sampled East Asian populations to Native Americans (fig. S5), using demograph-ic models that reflect a clean split between the populations (28). With both diCal2.0 and IBS tract method, the split of Native Americans (including Amerindians and Athabascans) from the Koryak dates to ca. 20 KYA (28) (tables S11A and S12 and fig. S15)."

"We further applied diCal2.0 to models with gene flow post-dating the split between Native Americans and Koryak (Fig. 2A) and found that they provided a better fit to the data than the models without gene flow (28). Overall, simulated databased on the models inferred using diCal2.0 and real data show very similar IBS tract length distributions (Fig. 2B) and relative cross coalescence rates (CCR) between pairs of individuals estimated using the Multiple Sequentially Markovian Coalescent (MSMC) method (Method 3) (28, 44) (Figs. 2, C and D). This serves as a confirmation for the model estimates from diCal2.0. We evaluated all the three methods using simulations under complex demographic models, and additionally investigated the effects of switch-errors in haplotype phasing on the estimates (28)."

"We then applied the diCal2.0 model that allows for gene flow between populations after their split to estimate divergence times for Native Americans from more geographically and genetically distant East Asian groups, including the Siberian Nivkh and Han Chinese. As before, the divergence estimates for Amerindians and Athabascans were very simi-lar to one another, ca. 23 KYA (table S11B and figs. S18 and S21)."

"Hence, our results suggest that Amerindians and Athabascans were, by three different methods, consistently equidistant in time to populations that were sampled from different regions of East Asia, including some proximate to Beringia, and with varied population histories. This suggests that these two major Native American sub-groups are descendants of the same source population that split off from ancestral East Asians during the LGM. It is conceivable that harsh climatic conditions during the LGM may have contributed to the isolation of ancestral Native Americans, ultimately leading to their genetic divergence from their East Asian ancestors."

"We also modeled the peopling of the Americas using a climate-informed spatial genetic model (CISGeM), in which the genetic history and local demography is informed by paleoclimatic and paleovegetation reconstructions (28, 45), and found the results to be in accordance with the conclusion of a single migration source for all Native Americans. Using present-day and ancient high coverage genomes, we found that Athabascans and Anzick-1, but not Greenlandic Inuit and Saqqaq (29, 39), belong to the same initial migration wave that also gave rise to present-day Amerindians from southern North America and Central and South America (Fig. 3), and that this migration likely followed a coastal route, given our current understanding of the glacial geological and paleoenvironmental parameters of the Late Pleistocene (fig. S31)."

"Overall, our results support a common Siberian origin for all Native Americans, contradicting claims for an early migration to the Americas from Europe (49), with their initial isolation and entrance into the Americas occurring no earlier than 23 KYA, but with subsequent admixture with East Asian populations. This additionally suggests that the Mal’ta-related admixture into the early Americans (4), representing ancestors of both Amerindians and Athabascans (Fig. 1 and fig. S5), occurred sometime after 23 KYA, following the Native American split from East Asians."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Old Man Leads a Migration

Clark Wissler, D. C. Duvall
Mythology of the Blackfoot Indians
(New York: Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, 1908)
v. 2, part 1, pp. 19-21.
(Link)

The first Indians were on the other side of the ocean, and Old Man [Napioa] decided to lead them to a better place. So he brought them over the ice to the far north. When they were crossing the ice, the Sarcee [Tsuu T'ina Athapascan speakers] were in the middle and there was a boy riding on a dog travois. As they were going along, this boy saw a horn of some animal sticking up through the ice. Now the boy wanted this horn, and began to cry. So his mother took an ax and cut it off. As she did so, the ice gave way, and only those on this side of the place where the horn was will ever get here.

Now Old Man led these people down to where the Blood Reserve [Blackfoot Kainai Reserve] now is, and told them that this would be a fine country for them, and that they would be very rich.

He said, "I will get all the people here."

All the people living there ate and lived like wild animals; but Old Man went among them and taught them all the arts of civilization. (When crossing the ice, only about thirty lodges succeeded in getting across, and among these were the representatives of all the tribes now in this country. At that time the Blackfoot were just one tribe.)

When he was through teaching them, he did not die, but went among the Sioux, where he remained for a time, but finally disappeared . He took his wife with him. He had no children.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

“The Elks Are Our Horses”: Animals and Domestication in the New France Borderlands

Benjamin Breen
[http://benjaminpbreen.com/]
Journal of Early American History 3 (2013) 181–206 
(Link)

"When the Ottawa chief warned that “the French will do with us what they do with their cattle”, he explicitly linked animal husbandry to human captivity. In doing so, he drew upon a deep-seated association between the two concepts so fundamental that it was embedded in the structure of his language. In Ottawa, as in other Algonquian and Iroquoian tongues, the words for “tamed creature/pet” and “captive/slave” were linked."

"To ally with the French, the chief argued, was to willingly become an animal in their service – and the state of being a tame animal shaded into native conceptions of human bondage. In protesting this specific alliance, the Ottawa chief was thus also rejecting one of the most fundamental structuring principles of European society: a hierarchical social order that regarded mas-tery over domesticated animals as integral to improvement, commerce, and “civility”."

European and Native Conceptions of the Human-Animal Relationship.


"The Ottawa chief and his audience inhabited a world that was in many ways both physically and symbolically centered on animals. Although most Algonquians and Iroquoians practiced extensive agriculture, harsh winters necessitated a substantial seasonal reliance upon game hunting. Animal products not only supplied food, but also furnished critical materials for clothing, housing, and tools. The most prominent creatures inhabiting the North American woods (such as turtles, elk, eagles, lynxes, and bears) also played an important role in mythology as sentient beings with complex motivations and powers.  Materials from such “other-than-human persons” were central to Native American religiosity and to the closely related realms of medicine and bodily practice."

"Perhaps the most important symbolic role of animals was as markers of individual and group identities. Among the Anishinaabeg (a culture group including the Ottawa and the Ojibwe), Heidi Bohaker has identified 108 discrete pictorial identities used by native signatories in treaties and petitions throughout the colonial period, the vast majority of which were animals. In a 1701 treaty, for instance, 30 out of 38 different indigenous nations repre-sented themselves with animal pictographs ranging from bears, eagles, and foxes to beavers, cranes, frogs, turtles, and catfish. John Tanner, an Ojibwe captive at the end of the eighteenth century, likewise described an animal-based symbolic writing that “was in common use among the Indians” as a method of communicating information about oneself and close kin."

"The sense of divine order that informed these conceptions of the animal-human relationship was exemplified by the Algonquian concept of manitou, described by Daniel Richter as “the impersonal force that permeated the world, observable in anything marvelous, beautiful, or dangerous”. Indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes region typically viewed their sub-sistence hunting as a part of this balanced cosmos, and strove to keep things in order by propitiating the manitous of the animals they killed. These ‘boss spirits’ or ‘keepers of the game’ figured in dreams, stories, and myths as beautiful, manitou-infused versions of the animals they represented."



Fig. 1. The North American interior circa 1700, with places, cities and indig-enous cultural groups mentioned in the text labeled. Note that there were several sites named ‘Kaskaskia’ in the Mississippi region – the Kaskaskia labeled here refers to the settlement (sometimes called ‘Old Kaskaskia’) that existed along the banks of the Illinois River in the 1670s and 1680s. Map by the author.

"In his travels with the Sieur Dulhut from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi, the missionary Louis Hennepin observed that the people he encountered uniformly “believe that several kinds of Animals have a rea-sonable Soul” capable of “com[ing] back into the World to see how they treat their Bodies, and give notice accordingly to the rest of the Beasts both dead and living”. Although Hennepin and other French travelers held such beliefs in contempt, Europeans also envisioned animals as co-existing with humans according to a universal cosmic order. These beliefs had an Old Testament pedigree which established humans as the most exalted mortals on the “great chain of being”: the rest of the world’s creatures existed for and because of them, and it was the duty of man to shape nature to his will. In common with other early modern Christians, French travellers in the New World thus believed that man’s “divinely ordained role was to change and control [nature] by his arts and his technology”. On the ground, these generalized views acquired a distinctly Baroque French favor. In his recent work on animals and the “civilizing process” in absolutist France, Peter Sahlins has argued that the symbolic meanings of animals in elite French culture changed markedly during the seventeenth century. Whereas sixteenth-century nobles prized bloody animal combat and exotic beasts, by the 1660s, Louis XIV and his court had adopted a “language of the animal world” in which well-ordered, tamed menageries became “a living metaphor of royal authority and aristocratic civility”"

"These evolving attitudes toward animals shaped the foreign policies of Colbert and other leaders who sought to domesticate, tame and "Frenchify" (franchiser) a "wild" landscape."

"However, Colbert’s objectives were frequently counterbalanced by what François-Xavier Charlevoix called the “libertine habits” of young fur traders in the interior, who he blamed for “the Arts being neglected” and “many good Lands left uncultivated”. Fur traders were hostile to both the Jesuits and the French government, since any attempt to force native peoples into permanent settlements would necessarily disrupt existing commercial networks built upon territorial ranging. Long-distance trade in animal pelts and hides across the North American interior had a deep Pre-Columbian history, but by the seventeenth century this trade had also tapped into a globalized mercantile system that offered an alternative, mobile, hunting-based model for French commercial expansion. Conflicts about francization of societies on the outer edge of French imperial control were thus, at the largest level, part of a debate about the nature of commerce and society itself: was it possible to be “civilized” yet unsettled? Could land usage patterns based around hunting form the basis for a successful commercial society? The language of animals played an important role in these debates: the missionary survey of sixteenth-century exotic animal combat (including the famous battle between a rhinoceros and elephant at the behest of King Manuel I of Portugal in 1515), Jacques Marquette was expressing a common sentiment when he likened the inhabitants of the Illinois country to “lost sheep, that must be sought for among the thickets and woods” in order to be civilized. The goal of la francization was thus to transform both American landscapes and the humans and animals who inhabited them into not only societal, but also ecological and environmental analogs of France. Indians were to find fixed habitations, to cease to “keep things in common”, and to adopt Old World patterns of resource management, husbandry, and agriculture. One of the first steps toward achieving these goals was the abandonment of long-held attitudes toward animals and the embrace of European models of animal possession."