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Fort Selkirk: Early Contact Period Interaction Between the Northern Tutchone and the Hudson's Bay Company in Yukon Open Access


Other title
culture contact
Northern Tutchone
Hudson's Bay Company
historical archaeology
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Castillo, Victoria E.
Supervisor and department
Dr. Raymond Le Blanc (Anthropology)
Examining committee member and department
Friesen, Max (Anthropology, External)
DeBernardi, Jean (Anthropology)
Supernant, Kisha (Anthropology)
Gruhn, Ruth (Anthropology)
Ens, Gerhard (History and Classics)
Department of Anthropology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Historical archaeology has often struggled to reveal the roles that Indigenous people played as socio-economic agents during the initial contact period in North America. Previous research in the discipline largely focused either on reconstructing everyday life in early European settlements while ignoring Indigenous agency or on European material culture and dominance over Indigenous groups. The absence of Indigenous agency in historical archaeology unfortunately presents Aboriginal people as lacking the reflexivity to create their own space within their social conditions. Research presented in the dissertation employs a holistic, multi-scalar approach, combining archaeological, archival, and ethnographic data to examine how Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) fur traders and Northern Tutchone Athapaskans negotiated their socio-economic roles at Fort Selkirk, Yukon (A.D. 1848-1852) and to expose the underlying social processes of early European-Indigenous interaction. Results of this study demonstrate that the Northern Tutchone were active agents in their trade relations with the Hudson’s Bay Company and Coastal Tlingit Chilkat trade partners. The archaeological and archival records reveal that the Northern Tutchone traded with the HBC but were never subsumed within the HBC trade sphere. The Northern Tutchone people, as reflexive agents, remained autonomous throughout the fort’s existence and were able to create a dual trading strategy that was profitable for them for the duration of the forts existence.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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