Interpreting northern plains subsistence practices : an analysis of the faunal and floral assemblages from the Thundercloud site (FbNp-25)
Webster, Sean Michael
The Thundercloud site (FbNp-25) is a multi-component processing/habitation site located within Wanuskewin Heritage Park near the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The site contains at least ten cultural occupations ranging from the period of European contact to 4,000 years before present. In 1993 the University of Saskatchewan chose the site for their annual field school and excavations continued at the site until the summer of 1998. During that time sediment samples were collected from every unit as part of the paleoenvironmental program. In 1996, a detailed analysis of the faunal and floral assemblage was begun including a complete examination of all sediment samples. The samples revealed a diversity of micro-remains which would not have been collected using standard screening techniques. The analysis of these remains provided a wealth of new archaeological and paleobiological data including new insights into pre-contact subsistence practices and paleoenvironmental studies. More specifically, analysis of these data played a pivotal role in the interpretation of seasonal occupation patterns, the depositional history of some levels, and in the reconstruction of past environments. More importantly, by examining hearth samples, suggestions were made regarding the human utilization of small animals. These analyses suggest that small animals have played a minor role in the subsistence strategies of all cultures represented at the Thundercloud site. This discussion was expanded into an examination of McKean subsistence on the Northern Plains and forms the basis for further studies in this area.