Precontact utilization of sandhill environments during the Pelican Lake and Besant phases
Neal, Barbara S.
Construction of a natural gas pipeline through central Saskatchewan resulted in three years of investigation at two archaeological sites within the Douglas Park Sandhills near Elbow, Saskatchewan. Excavation, testing, and monitoring resulted in the recovery of an array of cultural materials from sites EgNn 9 and EgNo 23. Typical precontact period campsite activities and the communal hunting of bison are indicated by the cultural materials recovered. Diagnostic projectile points collected from sites EgNn 9 and EgNo 23 date occupation of the region to the Middle and Late Precontact Periods. Controlled excavation of the sites resulted in the identification of a series of intact buried occupations dating to the Pelican Lake and Besant phases. Sites EgNn 9 and EgNo 23 provide valuable insight into precontact utilization of sandhill environments within the greater grasslands ecosystem of the Great Plains. This thesis includes an overview of precontact utilization of sandhill environments across the Great Plains and a view into the subsistence and settlement choices made by precontact populations within the region. The archaeological record of the Great Plains indicates that precontact populations developed a stable, broad spectrum hunter-gatherer adaptation to the region following glacial retreat and the opening of the vast grasslands. Integration of the resources available from the 'ecological islands' created by sandhill ecosystems appears to have begun in the Early Precontact Period and continued through to the Historic Period. The focus of this thesis is the Pelican Lake and Besant phases which are represented at sites EgNn 9 and EgNo 23, and have been identified at the full range of archaeological sites identified within the Great Plains region. An overview of the Pelican Lake and Besant phases across the northern Great Plains is also included in this thesis.