Toronto Chapter - Inuvialuit Architecture: Archaeology of Cruciform Houses in the Mackenzie Delta

  • March 20, 2019
  • 7:30 PM
  • 19 Russell Street, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, St. George Campus, 2nd Floor Boardroom, Rm. 246

Speaker: Max Friesen, Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Topic: Inuvialuit Architecture: Archaeology of Cruciform Houses in the Mackenzie Delta

Within the great range of house types occupied by northern peoples, a few stand out due to their size, complexity, or unusual form. One of the most spectacular is the cruciform semi-subterranean house occupied by Inuvialuit in the Mackenzie Delta region, Northwest Territories. These are known through the historic record as very large, carefully constructed driftwood-framed houses with three alcoves bordering a central floor area.

Over the past 60 years, several archaeologists have excavated portions of cruciform houses, leading to gradually increasing knowledge about them. However, due to their great size, deep burial, and problems with permafrost, it has been difficult to excavate one fully.

Dr. Friesen will report on the recent excavation of two large cruciform houses at the site of Kuukpak on the East Channel of the Mackenzie River. Following a brief overview of the ethnohistoric record, he will interpret aspects of the houses’ architectural form, construction techniques, and change over time.

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