Article Title

A Feeling in their Bones: Issues of Deciphering Animal Ritual in the Archaeological Record among the Naskapi Innu and Eastern Cree


Whether religion and ritual are elements of past cultures that can be studied effectively by archaeologists has divided experts for some time within the discipline. This paper examines specific animal rituals from two mobile hunter gatherer groups from Canada’s North, the Naskapi Innu and Eastern Cree, in relation to Colin Renfrew’s 1985 book The Archaeology of Cult. In this paper I seek to demonstrate that the archaeological concepts and methods put forth in Renfrew’s (1985) work, related to analyzing religious and ritual contexts in large scale sedentary societies, cannot be neatly applied to Northern mobile hunter gatherer groups because of the nature of their movements across the landscape and their unique ritual relationships with animals. By going into detail describing, and subsequently analyzing the practical implications of the animal rituals and beliefs held by the Naskapi Innu and Eastern Cree, it is my goal to call more attention to the archaeological study of small scale mobile societies and their ritual practices that defy conventional methodologies for discerning and analyzing ritual in the archaeological record.

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