Constructing Agricultural Niches in Pre-Contact Southwestern Ontario: A Look at Botanical Remains from Western Basin Tradition Sites

MASUR, Lindi - University of Toronto

Human-plant interactions in southwestern-most Ontario during the early Late Woodland period (AD 1000 - 1300) are poorly understood. Until very recently, past peoples associated with the archaeological manifestation known as the Western Basin Tradition (WBT) were thought to have been hunter-gatherers, engaging with their landscape in stark contrast to their maize, bean, squash farming Iroquoian neighbours. While recent isotopic studies have revealed that, in actuality, these groups appear to be consuming similar amounts of maize, notions regarding supposed 'difference' in subsistence strategies and mobility surprisingly remain emphasized in our current understanding of these groups. This paper will provide an overview of paleoethnobotanical data which has informed the predominant WBT model, and provide a critique on the current framework. I suggest an approach to re-evaluating our previous constructs by looking at past anthropogenic landscape construction as a way to interpret interactions with their environment more meaningfully than in the past.