Chelsee Arbour

Previous Education

M.A. (Anthropology), Trent University, 2011
B.A. (Anthropology), McGill University, 2008


Dr. Peter Whitridge


Indigenous peoples of Québec/Labrador peninsula, Maritime Archaic, quartz, landscape archaeology, narrative construction, knowledge practices, cultural identity.

Research Statement

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.



Department of Archaeology

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000