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Chelsee Arbour

 Chelsee Arbour at Tsheshuk site, KamestastinAcademics

  • B.A. Anthropology 2008 McGill University
  • M.A. Anthropology 2011 Trent University
  • Ph.D. Archaeology Memorial University (in progress)


Phone: 864-2451
Office: GH-2019

Research Interests

Spatial analyses and landscape context of archaeological sites, monumentality, the development of agriculture, archaeological theory, the study of science and technology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), narrative construction, knowledge practices, the indigenous people of the Québec/Labrador peninsula, coastal adaptation, aquatic networks, hunter-gatherer/fisher social dynamics, the negotiation of cultural identity.

Current Research

At its broadest level, my research seeks to investigate the interrelationship between site location, quartz and lithic artifacts, and the underlying social life-ways of the mid-late Maritime Archaic at Kamestastin Lake in the interior of the Québec/Labrador peninsula. It is part of a larger collaborative project with the Tshikapisk Foundation, an Innu non-profit cultural heritage organization, and the Arctic Studies Center of the Smithsonian Institution. My role in this larger project is to investigate the numerous and predominantly quartz assemblages of some of the earliest occupations at Kamestastin. Within the last decade, investigations in the Kamestastin region have produced evidence of 260 sites including 39 Maritime Archaic sites spanning a 2700 year period (5940 +/- 20 B.P. - 3230 +/- 40 B.P), suggesting continuous – albeit episodic – occupation from the time of deglaciation to the present. The unique archaeological signature of Kamestastin is not, however, the only reason why this region is significant. These early sites, and the Kamestastin region as a whole, figure prominently within contemporary Mushuau Innu personal experiences (such as the seasonal goose and caribou hunt), oral histories within contemporary generational memory, and oral traditions embedded in myths and epic travel accounts that have been passed down over many generations. In this way, the sites and find-spots found on the land are tangible traces of the Mushuau Innu ancestors and part of the larger narrative of Nitassinan. Thus at a more refined scale, my research attempts to develop a forum where multiple narratives about the past and the land can be engaged without creating a hierarchy that places any one narrative above any other. Consequently, this research explores how the multiple narratives associated with the use of quartz in the Kamestastin region, and people’s relationship to the land (including Mushuau Innu oral histories, personal experiences and archaeology) are engaged with in different contexts.

Recent Publications/Research Reports

Jenkinson, A. and C. Arbour
2014 The Year of Slate: Archaeological fieldwork at Kamestastin, spring 2013. Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation: Provincial Archaeology Office 2013 Archaeology Review (eds) Stephen Hull. 12: 67-83.

Arbour, C., A. Jenkinson and S. Loring
2013 Caribou paths and stone hearths: Archaeological fieldwork at Kamestastan, Spring 2012. Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation: Provincial -Archaeology Office 2012 Archaeology Review (eds) Stephen Hull. 11: 7-23.

2013 Plans and Profiles: Chelsee Arbour; Researching Quartz use at Kamestastin, Labrador. An Interview with Tim Rast on Elfshot.

Recent Presentations

2014 Tshetshuk, Kamestastin: Interior/coastal connections in the Maritime Archaic period of Québec/Labrador. Paper presented at the 79th Annual Society for American Archaeology Conference, Austin, TX.

2013 Community Archaeology: Addressing Issues of Stewardship, Representation and Responsibility. Guest Lecturer in ARCH 3850: Material Culture. Memorial University, St. John’s NL.

2013 Marking place, mapping memory: The use of GIS in Archaeology. Guest Lecturer in ARCH 2080: Principles of Archaeology. Memorial University, St. John’s NL.

2013 Studying the Deep Past at Kamestastin: Archaeological fieldwork during the Spring of 2013. Public Community Talks, Natuashish NL

2012 Archaeology at Kamestastin, interior northern Labrador. Paper presented with Anthony Jenkinson at the Visiting Researcher’s Public Presentation Series. College of the North Atlantic, Goose Bay, NL.

2012 Researcher Positionality, Knowledge Practices and Narrative Construction: A Discussion on Archaeological Research to be Conducted at Kamestastin, Northern Interior Labrador. Annual Aldrich Interdisciplinary Conference, St. John’s NL.