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Apachean Origins and the Turbulent A.D. Thirteenth Century World



Apachean Origins and the Turbulent A.D. Thirteenth Century World

Speaker: John W. (Jack) Ives, Emeritus Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta and founding Director of the Institute of Prairie Archaeology (now Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology).

Abstract: In 1930-31, Julian Steward recovered hundreds of well-worn moccasins in Utah’s Promontory caves – along with mittens, bison robe fragments, bows, arrows, pottery, bone and stone tools, cordage, gaming pieces, and abundant faunal remains – making for one of the most remarkable hunter-gatherer archaeological records in western North America. Steward recognized that the moccasins and other artifacts were out of place in the Great Basin but were characteristic of the Canadian Subarctic and northern Plains, further suspecting they reflected ancestral Apachean populations making their way to homes in the Southwest and southern Plains. His findings languished for decades, with the Promontory materials regarded as enigmatic.

Our research has involved new excavations in Promontory Caves 1 and 2 that reinforce Steward’s conclusion that the early Promontory Phase resulted from an intrusive, large game hunting population, particularly of bison, very different from nearby late Fremont communities. Lingering for just one or two human generations, the cave occupants accepted people as well as material and symbolic culture from surrounding A.D. 13th Century neighbors. We employ a trans-disciplinary search image to evaluate the possibility that the Promontory Phase materials reflect the presence of Apachean ancestors, with a treatment that expands to Franktown Cave (Colorado) and other sites suspected of having Apachean connections. In these records lie the seeds for the intensive Plains-Puebloan interactions of the centuries that followed.

Bio: Emeritus Professor John W. (Jack) Ives received his B.A. from the University of Saskatchewan (1974), his M.A. from the University of Alberta (1977), and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan (1985). His interest lie in Plains, Subarctic, Great Basin and northeast Asian prehistory, kinship and economic organization, and PaleoIndigenous studies. From 2007-2022, he was a professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta, holding the Landrex Distinguished Professorship from 2012-2017. Ives was the founding Director of the Institute of Prairie Archaeology (now the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology). He received the University of Michigan’s Distinguished Dissertation Award, subsequently published as A Theory of Northern Athapaskan Prehistory. With Joel Janetski, Ives co-edited Holes in Our Moccasins, Holes in Our Stories (University of Utah Press), a volume on Apachean origins.

From 1979-2007, Ives served with the Archaeological Survey of Alberta, the Royal Albert Museum, and the Historic Resources Management Branch, with senior management responsibilities as Alberta’s Provincial Archaeologist for 21 years. He undertook various executive and curatorial roles in developing the World Heritage Site of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, the Gallery of Aboriginal culture and international exhibitions (Rise of the Black Dragon). Ives led the drafting team for the First Nations Sacred Ceremonial Objects Repatriation Act of Alberta, the only legislation of its type in Canada. He was honored to receive the name Awoutaan from distinguished Blackfoot ceremonialist Allan Pard.

NOTE: The Denver Chapter 2024 Board Elections for will take place after the speaker’s presentation.


December 11th– Members Night Potluck and Presentations

January 8th – Sarah Allaun, Assistant State Archaeologist and State PAAC Coordinator


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