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Abstracts: Issue 71

Issue 71 Spring 2006

The editorial comment for issue number 71 can be found at the end of this page.


1-8 Upstream from Old Coldspring: William N. Fenton and the Investigation of Seneca Culture in Time

Thomas S. Abler
William N. Fenton began his investigations into Iroquois culture at Coldspring Longhouse on the Allegany Reservation of the Seneca Nation in the 1930s. At that time, the theoretical stance of such figures as Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown belittled an attempt to approach social and cultural questions historically. Fenton, however, found a rich historic record documenting the past of the Iroquois. Fenton's knowledge of contemporary Iroquois language and culture gained from fieldwork, especially at Allegany and Tonawanda in New York, and at Six Nations in Ontario, allowed him to approach documentary evidence with extraordinary sophistication. Fenton's publications over the past 70 years have done much to legitimize the ethnohistorical study of the native peoples of North America within both anthropology and history. Indeed, Fenton continues to set a standard for all interested in historic roots of the contemporary cultures of Native North Americans.

William N. Fenton a débuté son enquête sur la culture iroquoise à Coldspring Longhouse, sur la réserve Allegany de la nation Sénéca, au cours des années 1930. À cette époque, l'influence théorique de penseurs tels que Malinowski et Radcliffe-Brown dévalorisait les approches historiques des faits sociaux et culturels. Fenton se trouvait toutefois en face d'une riche documentation historique sur le passé des Iroquois. Ses connaissances de la langue et de la culture iroquoises contemporaines qu'il avait acquises sur le terrain (surtout à Allegany et à Tonawanda dans l'État de New York et à Six Nations en Ontario) lui ont permis d'aborder les sources documentaires de façon très sophistiquée. Son oeuvre publiée au cours des 70 dernières années a fortement contribué à legitimer l'étude ethnohistorique des Amérindiens nord-américains, tant au sein de l'anthropologie que de l'histoire. Encore aujourd'hui, Fenton pave la voie pour tous ceux qui sont intéressés par les racines historiques des cultures amérindiennes contemporaines d'Amérique du Nord.

9-21 Sky Dancers and Bear Chasers: What (If Anything) Does Haudenosaunee Star Lore Mean?

Anthony Wonderley

Most Iroquois star lore recorded since the eighteenth century pertains to the Pleiades and the Big Dipper. Although stories about these constellations tend to be brief, there is reason to regard them as serious oral narratives--the Pleiades, for example, were once identified as the land of the dead. Folklore about the Pleiades seems oddly redundant (two names and two stories) and weirdly nonspecific (one Pleiades story attaches to the Big Dipper). These circumstances suggest the tales are essentially mythological, and not astronomical, in character. Regarded as myths, the stories evince surprising links to far-flung mythic traditions. As specifically Iroquois tales, however, they continue to express a local Haudenosaunee truth.

La plupart des traditions orales iroquoises récoltées depuis le XVIIIe siècle au sujet des étoiles, concernent les Pléiades et la Grande Ourse. Même si les histoires à propos de ces constellations ont tendance à être brèves, il y a lieu de les considérer comme des récits sérieux; par exemple, les Pléiades ont déjà été identifiées au pays des morts. Les traditions concernant les Pléiades paraissent redondantes (deux noms et deux récits) et curieusement non spécifiques (un récit sur les Pléiades se rattache à la Grande Ourse). Ces circonstances suggèrent que ces contes ont un caractère essentiellement mythologique plutôt qu'astronomique. Vus comme mythes, ces récits montrent des liens surprenants avec des traditions mythiques plus vastes. Toutefois, en tant que contes spécifiquement iroquois, ils continuent d'exprimer une vérité locale bien Haudenosaunee.

23-63 Untangling Multiple Components at the Log Cabin Point Site in Southern Ontario

Jenneth E. Curtis

Excavations at the stratified Log Cabin Point site on the Trent River in southern Ontario recovered artifact and faunal assemblages from Point Peninsula and Early Iroquoian components. The analysis of the faunal remains indicates continuity in the use of the site as a hunting and fishing camp. The ceramic and lithic assemblages provide opportunities to investigate local patterns of change over time and to place the site within the broader context of regional settlement patterns. They also provide data in support of the in situ hypothesis for Iroquoian origins in the lower Great Lakes region. An historic component resulting from a nineteenth-century, Euro-Canadian farm is also described.

Des fouilles entreprises au site stratifié de Log Cabin Point, sur la rivière Trent dans le sud de l'Ontario ont permis de récupérer des assemblages artéfactuels et fauniques datant des époques pointe-péninsulienne et iroquoienne ancienne. L'analyse du matériel faunique indique qu'il y a eu continuinté dans la fonction du site en tant que campement de chasse et pêche. Les assemblages céramiques et lithiques donnent l'occasion d'etudier leurs changements chronologiques locaux et de positionner le site dans le contexte des schèmes d'établissements régionaux. Ils appuient également l'hypothèse du développement in situ des Iroquoiens dans la région de l'ests des Grands Lacs. L'article se termine par la description d'une composante historique datant du XIXe siècle, soit une ferme eurocanadienne.

65-85 The Stones Throw Site: a Late Paleoindian Site in East-central New Hampshire

Timothy H. Ives

Recent archaeological investigations in Tamworth, New Hampshire identified a small Late Paleoindian site designated the Stones Throw site. It is spatially defined by a small, low-density distribution of rhyolite debitage reflecting channel flake removal and late-stage bifacial thinning. A broken lanceolate preform was recovered adjacent to a probable hearth remnant, 14C dated to ca. 8,800 B.P. Site data substantiates the use of channel flaking technology in New England during the early Holocene and reflects a persistent pattern of regional mobility involving north-south travel through the White Mountains.

Une intervention archéologique récente à Tamworth au new Hampshire a permis la découverte d'un petit site paléoindien récent: le site Stones Throw. Il se limite dans l'espace à une petite aire de répartition de faible densité d'éléments de débitage en rhyolite témoignant de la production de cannelures et des étapes finales de l'amincissement bifacial. Une préforme lancéolée brisée a été trouvée à coté de ce qui semble être les restes d'un foyer, daté au radiocarbone à environ 8800 ans A.A. Les données du site appuient l'usage de la technologie des cannelures en Nouvelle-Angleterre au début de l'Holocène et reflètent la persistance d'une mobilité régionale qui met en scène un axe de déplacement nord / sud à travers les Montagnes Blanches.

87-88 Caribou Hunter: A Song of a Vanished Innu Life (Serge Bouchard)
Robert Jarvenpa

89-90 The Lowell Experiment: Public History in a Postindustrial City (Cathy Stanton)
Ivan D. Steen


This volume of Northeast Anthropology contains a range of interesting papers and marks a continuation of the journal staff's commitment to bringing the reader a variety of anthropological perspectives on the Northeast. Volume 71 starts with Thomas Abler's analysis of the works of the legendary ethnologist, the late William Fenton. Not long ago, in my inaugural volume as the editor of this journal I included a brief remembrance of Dr. Fenton's passing. Abler's paper puts his work in the historical context in which it was conducted, and notes what a truly influential and innovative researcher he was. This is an apt moment to remember Fenton's work, as his last book, Iroquois Journey: An Anthropologist Remembers, will be published next month by the University of Nebraska Press.

Anthony Wonderly's contribution is one of which I think Fenton himself would have approved. Wonderly investigates the mythical associations of two prominent constellations. His findings are a cautionary tale that Native Americans did not necessarily make the relatively rigid identifications and associations of the heavens as is the case for Western cultures. Researchers who make facile and simplistic assumptions about Native American myths and symbols, and their role in daily life, proceed at their intellectual peril.

Contributions by Jenneth Curtis and Timothy Ives show the journal's continued goal of presenting primary anthropological data as well as more general or synthetic analyses. Both papers are initial reports of excavations at northeastern archaeological sites. Curtis presents the results of her excavations at a multi-occupation site southern Ontario, where Native Americans returned to the same location repeatedly for over a thousand years. Ives' paper relates excavations at a Paleoindian occupation in New Hampshire, and provides additional data relating to one of the still mostly poorly understood periods of northeastern prehistory.

In closing, I will remind readers about the upcoming Eastern States Archaeological Federation annual meetings in Burlington, Vermont. This year's meeting promises to be one of the larger gatherings of that organization in some time. Details can be found online at esaf-archeology.org.


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