Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Neal Ferris


Indigenous engagement in Canadian archaeology encompasses jurisdictional variances, microcosmic colonial/resistance implications and the promise of mutually-beneficial heritage management practices. Drawing from literature commentary, primary document review, surveys and interviews, this dissertation explores consistency and uniqueness in the relationship between commercial archaeology and Indigenous peoples in Canada. Four Conditions of engagement and four Capital properties of engagement emerge and are theorized as constituting a framework capable of considering the diversity of engagement practice in Canada.

Conditions include: Regulation, Capacity (Developer and Community) and Relationships. The regulatory heritage regimes governing engagement are considered across provincial/territorial boundaries together with a host of legislation, policy documents, treaty settlements, and other State/Indigenous agreements. The reasons for developers to instigate and maintain Indigenous community engagement components of cultural resource management (CRM) and the infrastructures within communities capable of realizing community-centric heritage management outcomes are defined and explored. The importance of interpersonal and institutional relationships and the identities of participants and proxies in the course of these relationships are emphasized in detail by those involved in archaeological practice.

Drawing from Bourdieu’s cultural and social capital marketplaces, the four capitals in this dissertation include: embodied, objectified, collective (social/institutionalized), and economic. Embodied cultural capital represents the skills, knowledge and experiences acquired and transmitted during engagement and as a product of the archaeological process. Objectified cultural capital represents the varyingly ascribed values attached to objects/artifacts and places/sites by archaeologists and Indigenous peoples. Objectified capital also represents the various ways heritage is commodified in commercial/development transactions. Collective capital represents both the social (group/community affiliation) and institutionalized (institutional affiliation/certification) capitals. Collectively, these capitals define and perpetuate the proxy roles of engagement participants, emphasizing that Indigenous engagement in archaeology is about more than just the individuals involved. Finally, economic capital represents the tangible monetary component of engagement.

Together, these conditions and capitals are defined and combined as Indigenous and critical heritage epistemologies synthesize a fluid interpretative framework considering the dynamics of Indigenous engagement in contemporary archaeology.