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Métis Hivernants: The Women of the Buffalo Lake Overwintering Community
Abstract: The hivernants were groups of Métis families who banded together to form winter bison hunting brigades. Overwintering on the Canadian prairies, they constructed cabins at sites that positioned them to take advantage of natural resources such as water and plant life, but also allowed them to readily engage in the bison hunt. In this talk, I focus on the Buffalo Lake site that was occupied by the Métis during the 1870s. More specifically, I focus on the stories that the artifacts from this site can tell us about the Métis women who lived there. Using approaches from Indigenous archaeology, I also engage the artifacts with the Cree and Métis concepts of keeoukaywin and wâhkôhtowin in mind. These concepts translate into “the visiting way” and the “state of being related”. This approach allows me to discern the details of daily life but also encourages the consideration of what the site can tell us about the relationships that Métis women would have had with the other members of their community.
Biography: Dawn Wambold is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta and an MA student at the University of Alberta. As a scholar at the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology, she is honoured to be able to tell the stories of her ancestors using archaeology. Her research focus is on the lives of Métis women at bison hunting winter camps. It is her hope that this research will help others know these remarkable women and how they, along with the men in their families, made their homes in the lands now known as Western Canada.
Keywords: Métis, Archaeology, Western Canada, Ancestors